Cam King

Contributing Writer


The state of New Hampshire has required children to be fully immunized, unless through religious exemption, before being enrolled in kindergarten. Controversy surrounding vaccinations and its induction of a preservative that contained mercury had parents, such as Patti Smith, of Keene, seeking this alternative route.

With two children now aged 18-years and 20-years-old, Smith had no intention of seeking “religious exemption” from the state of New Hampshire to get her children enrolled in kindergarten. Her eldest child, whom she did not name, was first vaccinated shortly before enrolling in kindergarten. Smith, like many other parents in the early 1990s, had noticed short and slight behavioral symptoms. Some of which have led to the idea that early immunizations in the 1990s that contained a preservative called, “Vimerisol,” had traces of the toxic element mercury. The state of New Hampshire requires that all youth be vaccinated against various forms of common diseases such as Polio, whooping cough, and other harmful bacteria. After noticing these changes, Smith  decided against the second round of immunizations, then sought religious exemption for both of her children to be able to be enrolled in kindergarten.

Smith commented on her actions and said, “I did it for no church-associated reasons. I just did it because these vaccines were clearly harming his health. He wasn’t responding the way he had and I wouldn’t put him through it. The only way out was through religious exemption by the school.”

In 1999, the EPA, FDA, and the Toxic Substance CDC did find that various immunizations mandated by several states in order for youth to be enrolled in preliminary education contained mercury above the non-lethal amount for a child-aged person.

Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., John Modlin, has been working extensively in this field.

“The federal government in 1999 realized that the toxic substance of mercury was above previously agreed upon levels. It was originally used as a preservative and then it was ordered to be removed.”

Modlin said that when the government did this, anti-vaccine groups blamed the recent 1990s outbreak of autism on the high levels of mercury in the vaccines, causing even more parents to seek religious exemption for the states that required immunization for their children.

“There is no scientific data whatsoever. I have been among the leaders in this research and in the past decade, there have been over 12 iron-clad scientific studies that have without a doubt proven that mercury is not related to autism.”

For parents like Patti Smith and others, they may not be so sure.  “It doesn’t matter what was in those vaccines. Too much mercury is fatal, and whatever it was, it was affecting my son.”

Elementary schools and kindergartens are not allowed to release statistics on parents seeking religious exemption for their children. Smith, who is among many other parents in the Keene community that have sought this approval, found it very easy. “We didn’t even have to go to a church. You just go and sign the documents right there saying you want religious exemption from getting the required shots, and you’re good,” Smith said.

Modlin, however, does not see the logic.

“The argument here is that it’s the forgotten diseases that we’ve eliminated is because of these vaccines. Some of these diseases do exist still in this country and people should get vaccinated regardless.”

Smith, a stay-at-home mom when her first son was vaccinated, believes that babies should not be vaccinated days after coming into this world. “A baby’s body is not strong enough to handle that because their immune systems are not capable of fighting these weakened infectious diseases.”

“I want to call it a herd thing, so many kids are vaccinated and there is not a problem, but I do think other children can be susceptible to behavioral changes from these required immunizations.”

Modlin went on to cite the dangers of an anti-vaccine group in semi-rural California, a community much like Keene that had many parents seeking religious exemption for their children.

“The community in California suffered an enormous outbreak of whooping cough, resulting in 12 deaths and hundreds of cases ending up at the local hospital. Parents don’t see these diseases so they don’t think they exist anymore, but they do, and they kill.”


Cam King can be contacted at


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