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Staunchly defending the basic human right to harm children - Mad River Union

Staunchly defending the basic human right to harm children - Mad River Union


Staunchly defending the basic human right to harm children - Mad River Union

Posted: 24 Sep 2015 12:00 AM PDT

Anti-vaccinationists have been petitioning at the Co-op, and were successfully gathering signatures at the North Country Fair.

They want a referendum on SB277, which prohibits unvaccinated children from attending public schools. Their premise, as I understand it, is that the requirement takes away parental rights and choices.

The bill came about because of experience – the rise of preventable disease back when "Personal Belief Exemptions" could allow a child to skip vaccination requirements.

The historical outcome of this exercising this "right" has been a return of fully preventable diseases like measles and pertussis, and children made sick with the potential for worse.

KevbadgeI asked the nice, well-intentioned person at the fair what the benefit is to exposing children to diseases that are dangerous, even fatal. She cited personal experience of her family. A woman who said she was a teacher (!) from Crescent City signed the petition, also mentioning her family and friends' experience.

As any advertising professional can tell you, personal stories are extremely compelling. That's why ads are full of testimonials. But can one small, uncontrolled, anecdotal data sample be extrapolated out to represent the entire country?

Can you imagine a Food and Drug Administration panel of doctors and scientists looking at vaccines, and saying, "This person in Arcata says her kids were never vaccinated and are just fine. Right, this changes everything! The only sensible thing to do is rescind vaccine requirements."

Obviously, broader statistical data, clinical findings and real-world experience supports vaccination, overwhelmingly and decisively, for the good of all.

The petitioner said she isn't anti-vaccination, as they usually do. But of course she claimed vaccines injure children, and actually have the effect of exposing them to disease rather than preventing it. If true, why wouldn't she be against that? It's a disingenuous claim.

She said that if you approve of vaccines but want to "space them out" (for some unspecified, non-medical reason), your child can't be in school.

To verify her outlandish assertions, she told me to look on the Internet, so I did. The SB277 Referendum website, sb277.org, offered no reason, logical or evidence-based, to allow the spread of disease among school children. Just a lot of correlation/causation confusion and fear about "catastrophic adverse vaccine reactions."

The "Educational" page directs one to "get informed" at places like vaxtruth.com. There, amid the hideously-treated fonts that for some reason plague quack websites, we learn that vaccines cause autism, that having the measles helps you fight cancer but that vaccination against polio gives you cancer.

Sunday, at the Co-op, two other petitioners– one holding a baby – told me that vaccines cause disease, rather than prevent it. Apparently tens of thousands of doctors and nurses, who have to treat disease every day, want to propagate ill health among children and their parents by recommending vaccination. At one point, one of the women told me that theres "no recourse" for those injured by vaccines. Two sentences later, she said a secret "tribunal" has made massive payouts to vaccine-injured persons at taxpayer expense.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. And there's much more wrong. Like anti-fluoridation and anti-GMO websites, the anti-vax sites blame vaccines for all manner of unverified perils to our health, environment and way of life. Fear is the well-nourished theme.

Speaking of wrong, the North Country fair petitioner also cited "the presidential debate" – the CNN Republican candidates' debate – during which two doctors advocated "spacing out vaccines." They did, indeed. Drs. Rand Paul and Ben Carson also deny climate change and oppose same-sex marriage.

Pro-tip: citing GOP candidates on almost anything to do with science or medicine is not a credibility booster. These people want to shut down Planned Parenthood!

As with the anti-fluoride folk, the anti-vax person said that vaccines are medicine. But that undermines the arbitrary "space them out" demand. If it's medicine, isn't is best to take it at the recommended dosage and frequency? Let's say you get cancer from a polio shot, like those poor vaccine victims on vaxtruth did. Would you then "space out" the cancer treatment for some superstitious or political reason?

Co-op has a record it can be very, very proud of in terms of protecting freedom of speech. In principle, one can't help but support the right of anti-vaxxers to petition there – especially since their claims are so outlandish as to be self-negating. But faddish anti-science is popular among Co-op's clientele, and even victimizes its credulous Board of Directors.

There's a simple, compelling argument for containing the anti-vax petitioners – that biology trumps ideology. Reports one vaccine supporter: "We managed to convince [Co-op] that having a presumably unvaccinated child in hand while greeting everyone coming into the store (and no warning to those who wish to avoid exposure) is irresponsible. We hope to see a cordoned-off area they must stay in, along with some sort of notice to immune-compromised individuals at the very least, if they follow through with what was discussed."

The real problem with vaccines is one steeped in irony: they are safe and effective. So much so that we've forgotten the epidemics of the past. Just go up to Greenwood and St. Mary's cemeteries. There you'll find grave markers of children – some siblings – who died around the turn of the century during epidemics of now-preventable diseases.

Outrageously and cluelessly, some anti-vaxxers point to the modern absence of flu epidemics to support a claim that vaccines are unnecessary!

Don't succumb to fluffed-up fear and fads. Evaluate health issues on evidence, not crappily-fonted websites. And get yourself and your children vaccinated. For everyone's sake.

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