By law, all students through ninth grade were required to be vaccinated against hepatitis B and chickenpox by January 2. According to Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education, approximately 12,000 students have failed to comply with the new rules. Of those 12,000, the ones who showed up for class on January 22 were suspended.
According to Carol Mowen of Washington County Public Schools, once a noncompliant student has been absent for ten days, "it becomes an issue of truancy," meaning their parents could be charged with breaking compulsory schooling laws.
However, Washington County Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction Donna Hanlin said that before taking such aggressive measures, officials hope to "find out what the road blocks" to vaccination are and encourage parents to have their children immunized.
One well-known obstacle to vaccination is economic difficulties and lack of access to clinics that do vaccinations. However, some parents are also reluctant to vaccinate their children due to potential allergic reactions and other side effects. Critics of compulsory immunization have alleged that many vaccines contain toxic substances and are actually highly dangerous.
"Forced mass vaccination of schoolchildren is medical tyranny at its worst," charged Mike Adams, author of "Natural Health Solutions and the Conspiracy to Keep You From Knowing About Them."
"What school and state officials are essentially saying now is that they will use the threat of violence to force parents into injecting their children with neurotoxic substances known to cause severe harm or even death. It is yet another sign of the utter absence of health freedom in a society whose leaders proclaim to be free."