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Enough is Enough with Blaming “Anti-Vaxxers”

admin January 23, 2015

anti-vaxxers

 

Image by NIAID

All right, I’ve had it.

I don’t normally get mad.  I don’t normally post about it.  But really?  I’ve had enough now.

In the last few days, there have been *dozens* of articles coming out in major media outlets that are absolutely filled with hate and anger towards families that don’t vaccinate.  It’s an unbelievable overreaction to the “Disneyland Measles” outbreak (which is actually, so far, much smaller than other recent outbreaks — so why is it such a big deal?).  This fight has reached an absolute fever pitch.

We’re also dealing with Dr. Sherri Tenpenny being denied at venues in Australia, with some people wanting to deny her a visa to even enter the country.

There is bullying, nastiness, insanity from every corner.  We’re at the peak now.  And it’s affecting people in their everyday lives.  More and more are having to read tirades in their Facebook newsfeeds about how stupid “anti-vaxxers” are, or endure personal berating over their family’s choices.  Some are encouraging people to find out which children in their child’s classroom aren’t vaccinated so they can ostracize them.  Some are refusing to allow unvaccinated children into church nurseries, playgroups, and more.  Perfectly healthy children, who happen to not have been vaccinated.

I’ve even been told that some of my readers have been messaged by trolls and harassed, simply for participating in some of the threads on my Facebook page!  That’s just going too far.

So, I’ve had enough.  

Families who believe in vaccine choice, it’s time to stand up.  I know it’s hard, with all the hate.  But if we sit silently and let them rage and fight, they’ll strip our rights.  Yes, it’s easier to be quiet and hope people don’t know who we are, so that we don’t have to deal with the brunt of the anger directly.  If we are silent, they win.  And they cannot win.  They are wrong.  They are wrong to bully people into their way of thinking.  They are wrong to try to force their will on others.  And they won’t do it, if I have anything to say about it.

Luckily, since I have this platform…I do have something to say about it.

The Facts About the Measles

There’s a sore lack of facts right now in the media about the “Disneyland Measles” as well as measles in general.  So let’s just share some.

In the Disneyland situation:

  • There are around 70 confirmed cases currently
  • 5 of them were fully vaccinated
  • 37 were not vaccinated
  • There are no records available for at least 30 cases (so we don’t know their vaccination status)
  • We don’t know the vaccination status of “patient zero” (the first person to have measles in this outbreak)

We can’t make the leap, from what we do know, that this was “caused by unvaccinated people.”  We simply can’t.  That is just an easy scapegoat.  If fits their agenda — to stir up hate and anger towards people who make alternative vaccination decisions, in order to try to strip exemptions and peoples’ rights.  (No, nobody has the right to force medical care of any sort on anyone else.  Period.)

But, of course, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Basic facts about measles:

  • In the 1950s, there were not “thousands of deaths per year from measles”  — it was between 350 and 600, averaging around 500 annually
  • In the 50s, there were between 300K and 800K reported cases per year (mumps and rubella were so mild they didn’t even keep records until the mid-60s)
  • It was “assumed” since most children got measles and it usually was not serious that there were closer to 2 million cases annually in the 50s (minor cases were not reported)
  • The death rate from measles is about 1 in 1000 for more serious cases; about 1 in 5000 for total cases
  • The last measles death in the U.S. was in 2005, and there was 1 death that year (there have been a total of 15 measles deaths in the U.S. since 1992)
  • There have been between 37 and 212 cases of measles annually between 2000 and 2011.
  • Vitamin A supplementation can prevent blindness from the measles
  • In 2012, there were about 50.  In 2013, just under 200.  In 2014, almost 650.
  • In the 2013 – 2014 school year, 94.7% of kindergarteners nationwide had 2 doses of the MMR. ( vaccine rates remain high overall)
  • According to a meta-analysis, the MMR has an efficacy rate of 64 to 95% (depending on strain, number of doses, age at first dose, etc.) and isn’t sufficiently tested for safety
  • There’s an association between auto-immunity, autism, and the MMR — but it hasn’t been sufficiently studied

The measles is just not a serious illness for most people.  We also know far, far more about it now than we did 60 years ago, and medical science has advanced quite a lot as well.  We know how to prevent the most serious complications now in most cases.  If we stopped vaccinating, more kids would get measles, and the vast majority with no issues.  We would not see rampant blindness (since vitamin A supplementation is easy to get and inexpensive).

We would not see rampant death or encephalitis (these are very rare anyway).  If the death rate was really 1 in 5000 (and it’s hard to say, with the advanced medical care, if it would be that high), and everyone got measles — we could assume about 4 million cases per year — that would be 800 deaths annually.  Just to compare, there are around 35,000 deaths from car accidents annually, while preventable medical errors kill around 400,000 people annually.  We might see a reduction in autoimmunity and other lifelong health complications as well…but that hasn’t been thoroughly studied.

Are complications possible?  Yes, of course.  But I, personally, look at the whole picture and not at worst-case scenarios.  We don’t have adequate safety testing on the MMR.  It doesn’t provide lifelong immunity, and it requires at least two doses (and they’re considering adding a third) — each dose comes with its own set of risks, doubling (or tripling) your overall risk.

I’m not going to tell you what you should decide here.  If you feel the MMR is the safer course of action, then by all means.  I’m trying to cut through the nonsense and share a more accurate, scientific picture of what’s going on right now, instead of wild suppositions about all those “anti-vaxxers.”  (By the way, I love science.  Accurate science.  Appropriately applied science.  I’m not such a fan of “my science is better than yours,” which a few trolls seriously said to me.)

I’ve written more on measles here, and here, and here. I’ve addressed the ridiculousness that is “herd immunity” here, and here.

What You Can Do

If you’re as tired of the bullying as I am, it’s time to stand up for our rights and take the world back.  We shouldn’t have to listen to hate speech because we’ve made a different medical decision.

First, sign this petition.  It protects our rights to make our own medical decisions.  It’s around 2300 signatures right now; let’s get it to 10,000!  You can sign if you fully vaccinate, partially, or don’t — as long as you believe parents should have the right to make that decision for themselves.

Second, share the facts.  Feel free to copy and paste any of the facts from above (citations are hyperlinked) and share them on any threads where people are blaming “anti-vaxxers” or getting nasty or scared over the measles.  Help to correct the misinformation.  Feel free to share this post, too.

Third, speak up.  If people are being rude, call them out.  Be respectful, but say something.  “We all make different medical decisions for our children.  The evidence is not clear cut.  Being rude isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, and I’m asking you to stop talking to others like this.”  I suggest deleting and banning anyone who can’t remain civil.  If you’re ready, share some information on your personal Facebook profile, or talk to friends in person.  Remain calm and let everyone know how hurtful and harmful this sort of negative attitude is.

Fourth, report hate pages.  There are a number of different ones on Facebook.  “Anti-Vax Wall of Shame.”  “Things Anti-Vaxxers Say.”  “Banned by Modern Alternative Mama.”  There are many others.  Report them for hate speech.  Their entire purpose is to take screenshots from groups where they troll and mock the people — some of you may recognize your own comments being mocked on those pages!

Fifth, write to your Congress representatives and let them know how important preserving/adding to vaccine exemptions is to you, and preserving medical freedom.  Search “state representatives” or “state senators” to find your state’s website, and your local representatives.  In some states there are specific efforts underway; check www.nvic.org for updates on these.

Stand up for your rights, or others will take them from you.  We can’t allow that.

EDIT: Plenty of people are upset that I noted that we could see up to 800 measles deaths annually if no one vaccinated.  First, that will never happen — because unlike some people, I believe everyone should have a *choice* in their medical care, and many will choose to vaccinate.  That is fine.  (Although vaccination isn’t 100%, as we all know.)  Second, those people completely ignored that there are currently 400,000 deaths annually from preventable medical mistakes.  I don’t understand how this is acceptable, but even *one* death from the measles is not.  Are you serious?  Where is your commonsense?  How can you be angrier about theoretical deaths than hundreds of thousands of actual deaths?  I can’t wrap my brain around that one.

Finally, if you post nastiness and hate — as many have attempted to do — don’t expect it to get published.  It won’t.  Call me Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong Il, a baby killer, whatever you want.  I control what gets posted here.  Keep it civil or you’ll never see it live.

Are you as tired of the bullying over medical decisions as I am?

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  1. I have to say, I love how the statistics you quote come straight from the CDC and other “credible” sources; I’m not saying I discount the websites that are blatantly “anti-vax,” but I know a lot of other people do, especially the kinds of people who are posting and reposting all of the hateful posts out there right now.

    The amount of hate out there right now is frustrating beyond belief. It’s refreshing to see some people starting to fight back, as it were. Between the recent post on Dr. Bob Sears’s FB page and your article, I can only hope that some people will start to tone it down a little and recognize that everyone is entitled to make their own decisions here. You don’t have to agree with the decisions your friends/family make with regards to vaccination, but you should respect the fact that it is *their* decision, not yours. Debate honestly and openly, by all means, but stop spewing hate just because you disagree.

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  2. Great post! I’m disgusted with the behavior I have been seeing over the last couple of years. Ironically, these bullies are the very reason I started questioning vaccines in the first place. I was pretty pro-vax until I saw the hateful backlash that happened to any medical professional that dared to speak against the mainstream medical (i.e., big pharma funded) community. I have even see some of these people whip each other up and encourage each other to make false claims to CPS, removing healthy children from loving homes and putting them in overcrowded foster care systems where they are then more likely to be exposed to all kinds of neglect and abuses. (There are certainly some wonderful foster families out there and I know some, but the norm is that these kids do not do well.) CPS and DHS should not have their time and resources taken away from kids who are suffering from true neglect and abuse and it makes me sick that these pieces of garbage are so attached to their vaccine dogma that they don’t consider that.

    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
    ― Mark Twain

    I would add to this post and encourage you and your readers (and this is a reminder to myself as well) to step away from the computer and remember that the good opinion of the internet does not need to affect the medical decisions you make for yourself and your family. And it should not – no matter what you decide.

    We can manage some of the negative effects trolling and cyber-bullying is having on us by remember to unplug. Step away from the hate. If you’re experiencing it in your personal world by pressure from family members, refuse to discuss the issue. As I’ve told my very well-meaning family members “my child’s medical history is between us and him and his physician. We are not going to discuss it with you.” I’m happy to answer general questions, debate information as long as it’s civil, but they don’t get a say in this. Simple as that.

    May we remember to focus our energy on the the things that matter (demanding *real* safety studies, pushing for legislation to protect our rights and hold vaccine manufactures financially accountable for the products, for example). All this arguing is a distraction.

    I will leave you with this beautiful Buddhist parable that I try to remember when I find myself engaged in conflict and the other party is behaving maliciously.

    The Story of the Angry Young Man and The Buddha

    It is said that one day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him, saying all kind of rude words.

    The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

    The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

    The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

    Remember: you always have a choice. You can accept or not accept these gifts. As simple as that.

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  3. I do not vaccinate my Children. I am very open about my choice. I have never been attacked or bullied, I actually have seen friends of mine stop vaccinating their Children. Times are changing!!!! Keep up the good work!!!

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  4. Kate, thanks for speaking out. Truly I don’t understand why parents of children that are fully vaccinated see the un-vaccinated as a threat to their child.

    When I was a kid my mom (and most others) arranged play dates so we could be exposed to these mild childhood illnesses and get them over with while we were kids. As a side benefit we have lifetime immunity. 🙂

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  5. The doctor on Good Morning America the other morning explained that there are pockets around the US of people who don’t vaccinate and they are all in the upper class and highly educated. They can’t figure that one out! He also said that everyone needs to be vaccinated because even if you are vaccinated it doesn’t guarentee the children who are vaccinated won’t get measles. Huh?

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  6. I’m guessing none of you understand the principals of biological immunology? How about Virology? Thought not. I thought about posting a rather long scientific explanation to refute everything I just read and attempt to bleach that much stupid from my brain. However it is late and I am tired. so I’ll just refute the one thing.

    “There are around 70 confirmed cases currently
    5 of them were fully vaccinated
    37 were not vaccinated
    There are no records available for at least 30 cases (so we don’t know their vaccination status)
    We don’t know the vaccination status of “patient zero” (the first person to have measles in this outbreak)

    We can’t make the leap, from what we do know, that this was “caused by unvaccinated people.” We simply can’t. ”

    Lets examine the people for whose vaccination status was known. 5 people who were vaccinated contracted the measles. 37 people who weren’t did. Do we see the difference yet? Vaccination is not 100% effective, everyone admits that. However it drastically reduces the chance of you or your child contracting the disease. Of the 42 patients for whose vaccination status was know, that contracted measles, 11.9% were vaccinated. However that means that 88.1% who did were NOT vaccinated. Lets extrapolate those numbers to the full 70 cases. Roughly 62 of them will be non vaccinated, and the remaining eight will be, +/- 3 Knowing the status of patient 0 isn’t all that important either. It is a neat trick as far as tracking previously unknown diseases, or to trace a virus to its origin in nature. However, measles only has one host in nature, Homo sapiens aka humans. A vaccinated person may have been the origin of the outbreak, however the disease would not have spread the way it has in a vaccinated population. Again taking our data from the known measles vaccination record, lets assume that 10 children are infected with measles. Five are vaccinated, and five are not. Each child has 10 friends that they regularly play with, and each of the ten friends is correspondingly vaccinated or not vaccinated to the original child. The five vaccinated but infected children have a collective group of 50 children who are vaccinated, from the Disney numbers 11.9% will be infected or 6 out of the fifty. The five non vaccinated children also have a collective 50 friends, 88.1% of which will contract the measles or 44 of the 50. Lets extrapolate a generation further, the 6 vaccinated infected friends, each with ten vaccinated friends of their own, although for fairness I will make it nine to include the previously infected friend, so a collective of 54 vaccinated friends. Again 11.9% will be infected roughly 7 will be infected. Now the 44 non vaccinated friends who are infected each with nine counted friends to exclude the previously infected friend. A collective of 369 non vaccinated friends, of whom following the Disney statistics 88.1% will be infected or 325/369. This is how non vaccinating is responsible for large scale outbreaks. Obviously this is a very simplified version of real world epidemiology, with simplified factors, but including those factors at most the paradigm would shift 15% or just 48 of those 325 infected non vaccinated friends.

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  7. Hi Lori, what they mean is that they want to vaccinate every child, and that some of those children, for whatever reason, may not achieve full immunisation. Sometimes the body rejects the antibodies in the vaccine and its benefits just don’t take hold. This is the worry with protecting herd immunity. For those who don’t have the immunity from the vaccine, for those who are immunocompromised (such as cancer patients) and for those who are allergic to the vaccine components. It’s not a cop out, it just isn’t very clear. I hope that this clears it up for you!

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  8. If you are anti vaccine, OK, but I wish all of you would not deliberately lie when it comes to trying to justify your position

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  9. Kate, I’m wondering what proof would be enough for you? I agree bullying doesn’t work but it seems that evidence doesn’t either. What proof and from whom would be enough to prove to you that if your children are healthy, you should vaccinate them? 99% of the pediatricians in this country support vaccinations, 100% of scientists support them, and so do a vast majority of parents. That’s enough evidence for me but obviously not for you. What would it take for you to change your mind? If 99% of pediatricians told me that vaccines were not safe, I would believe them. They were trained (for years) to protect and heal our children so when essentially every last one of them tells me that vaccines are safe for healthy children, I believe them. Oddly enough they all also vaccinate their own children – so that old “They are in big pharma’s pockets” either makes them psychopaths or willing to risk their own children’s lives. If you believe that about pediatricians, I certainly hope you don’t bring your children to one.

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  10. As a person with leukemia, I have to agree with the media on this one instance. If I were to receive a disease easily preventable for others but not prevented due to their personal beliefs, it would be devastating. In fact, this has already happened. An infection with measles progressed to brain inflammation and I now suffer from a complete lack of coordination and very shaky movements. What do you say to that?

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  11. THANK YOU, KATE! People just don’t use common sense any more. Or maybe they never did. Seems like some things never change, and one of them is that human beings will use any excuse to demean or exclude others–race, religion, tattoos, lack of tattoos–or vaccine status.

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  12. I’m sure this comment will get deleted, but I hope it at least gets read. I firmly believe in science, as much as I do exploring viewpoints objectively. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and there doesn’t seem to be much in-between. To be anti-vaccinations, in my opinion, is insane. However, its not my child. Personally, any parent who wants to place their child’s life on the line using the moral high ground of death over autism, doesn’t deserve support. But again, not my child. I had a good friend of mine cut contact with me after stating she’d rather her child be dead, yes, dead, than autistic. Again, where is the morality here?

    Any parent that wants to bury their child prematurely, that’s up to them. But the line is drawn when you put my health and my child’s health at risk. Your previous comments of “I am selfish. I will not protect you or your child” were posted for nearly 70,000 people to see. I myself will be reposting it, as has many others

    There will be a time, perhaps in your life time, when the line will be crossed. Your individual freedom to make such selfish decisions will eventually be removed when the health of many is at stake. I’m sure this comment will be deleted, which is fine, as the screenshot of your comments will remain in existence

    Did you see in irony in using the word ‘selfish’ ?

    Best

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  13. Shouldn’t the real complaint be that people and the media aren’t thanking nonvaccinating parents for helping to disperse measles? After all, given the known harms of vaccinating, the risk equation is obvious: not only should nobody vaccinate, the vaccinations themselves should be withdrawn from the market.

    As Dr. Bob Sears has recently said, vaccination is tinkering with Nature’s “status quo.” The more widespread the outbreak, the better, I say!

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  14. Thanks for the article.
    Just so you know, vitamin A doesn’t treat measles associated blindness. It treats xerophthalmia (vitamin a deficiency causing ocular complications) which can be associated with measles. Also the link you provided was to an abstract that in its summary actually recommended immunisations..
    Measles associated ocular inflammation often is irreversible and is usually treated with steroids which have significant systemic and ocular complications.

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  15. Susan, the reason a lot of parents get so upset, like myself, is that many of us have children that are too young to get the vaccine and our children are now facing danger or death because of the choices that you guys make to ignore science and allow a really dangerous disease that was virtually eliminated to come roaring back into existence.

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  16. I am not angry. I will not be hateful. I am simply stating a few facts from the other side which I do hope you please share. I have never gotten upset at another persons choice to not vaccinate. Ever. When I was a child I was exposed to the chicken pox so my friend and I could be sick together too. Guess what happened? The virus caused a seizure. The seizure caused a benign lesion in my brain and I’ve had epilepsy ever since. This is not a pity party. It has made me the person I am today 🙂 So many things could be so much worse. I know a woman who because of the measles developed an autoimmune disorder and wasn’t able to conceive. Had 2 terrible miscarriages, one with twins at 5 months. I know of far too many people who have had to avoid others because of illness in their family (cancer, elderly parents, etc.)… they have small children and couldn’t have friends over if they weren’t vaccinated or if their children were not of the age yet to get the vaccines making them vulnerable to them, at which point making the ill parent (cancer, stem cell recipient) vulnerable to the illness. I’m only 35. I feel this is young enough to know far too many people (and this isn’t the entire list) which this affected. My father got whooping cough when my son was born 4 years ago and he couldn’t meet him until he was 2 months old (they live 10 miles away). Like I said. I respect the decisions that other people make, but I do find it frustrating at the same time. To say that there are just “small” examples is very hard for me to hear when I know so many people that have been affected by that “small” population. I do realize it sure sounds like all I know is a bunch of sick people, that is not the case. I live in a place where many people choose not to vaccinate and this is the result. We’ve had entire preschools shut down because the entire (entire) school came down with whooping cough. Now, think about the fact that when the child gets sick it’s not just the child. The siblings (if there are any) get sick as well. The parents (who then have to miss work) the other people they have come in contact with, if the sibling goes to another school and the siblings go to a different school where they aren’t immunized then it is then spreading there to those families (parents, siblings, people they have come in contact with – what if they have older siblings who go to different schools). Then what about the co-workers of the parents? This is the mindset of the pro-vaccine people. Much of the time people are too upset to bother explaining any of it. I know it sounds like a big conspiracy theory. If you stop and think about how the common cold is spread, it’s the same. The exact same, but the illness are so much more powerful and when we have the gift (how our side views it) of prevention (when people like me have had unfortunate lifelong side effects from them) we snatch them up.
    I really hope you choose to post this seeing how I have put this in the kindest way I know how.

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  17. When making our decision, we called the CDC (whom I will not call a reputable source for anything, but maybe a vaccine agenda monger). I was particularly wanting statistical facts regarding the hib b vaccine. My specific question was: in any given recent year of the cases of meningitis that could have been prevented by the vaccine, how many of the cases reported of infected were vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. Their response was, “we do not keep that kind of data and if we did, it is a hippa violation to release any information.” I like facts, statistics and truth. The pro vaxxers think an unvacinated child poses a threat to their child. The logic is bad fundamentally. If vaccines worked no amount if unvaccinated would pose a threat. Thank you for your article.

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  18. I respect your right to choice. But how would you feel if your child died of measles? How would you feel if your child had a mild case of measles but infected a child unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons and that child died? The single paper linking autism to MMR has since been retracted. By its authors no less. Quoting statistics to point out the low chances of a fatal case of measles is all very well but surely as a parent you will take all available precautions to protect both your own child and those of your friends?
    I had measles as a teenager and despite excellent medical care have permanent eye damage. I was vaccinated but have a weak immune system. So my only protection was the immunity of those around me.
    Please please consider vaccinating.

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  19. I can’t help but notice that there are no comments with differing opinions on here, I’m sure you moderate your comments to avoid blatant hate and derogatory comments, but I find it hard to believe that as many times as this has wound up on my FB newsfeed from both pro and anti vaccination friends that you haven’t had one refutation comment…. Either way I enjoyed your post! I thought I would share this with you all. I just read about a homeopathic cold remedy that was supposed to open up clogged noses by rubbing your cheeks (where your maxillary sinuses are) with a mixture of honey, cinnamon, and a drop or two of mint extract.

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  20. Hi Kate. I’m a physician, and I just wanted to address one thing you mentioned: the preventable medical errors that happen in hospitals. They do happen, and you’re right, that’s unacceptable. I can’t speak for every hospital, of course, but I can promise you that the hospital system in which I work, those are taken VERY seriously. When one happens, it is not covered up. It is discussed, reviewed, and reviewed again. Root cause analysis meetings are held to determine what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. Let me give you an example: in our Neonatal ICU (I’m a neonatologist) we were having an unacceptably high rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections. We had 3 or 4 in a six month period. Not okay, period. We met, discussed, reviewed, and changed our practices. This July 4th will be FOUR YEARS without an infection! We are very proud of this change and have worked very hard to maintain that status.

    I just wanted to make sure you knew that many of us that work in health care ARE aware of deaths and complications caused by preventable medical errors, and I promise, we are working VERY hard to eliminate them. Even one is too many!

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  21. It is your choice to not vaccinate. HOWEVER, there are kids who CAN NOT be vaccinated. Babies, immunocompromised kids (Luekemia, other cancers…). These kids can not protect themselves. That is why we want herd immunity. To vaccinate the masses to protect the kids who can not protect themselves. I am a pediatric ER Nurse, and I see what happens when kids get sick with a preventable disease. You would not want it to be your kid. There is NOTHING that links vaccs to autism. I am so confused as to why you would not want to protect your kids and the ones who can not be vaccinated…Maybe if you antivaxers would enlighten me as to why you dont protect your kids, it would be easier to comprehend? Maybe?

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  22. Actually…you gave your own reason IN FAVOR of vaccinations. You said in the Disneyland outbreak there were almost 40 cases of measles currently in unvaccinated people and 5 in vaccinated people. Vaccinated people make up about 70-75% of the population, so that means in 70+% of the people at Disneyland 5 vaccinated people were infected. In the remaining 25-30% of people 37 unvaccinated people were infected. That’s a HUGE difference in infection rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Proof that it works. It’s not perfect but it works.

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  23. What I don’t understand is that people claim that children who aren’t vaccinated are a health threat and it isn’t the anti-vax parent’s right to threaten the children of others. Yet smoking is completely legal and I have no say over someone standing next to me in line chugging on a tobacco stick threatening my life with their second hand cancer. Smoking kills way more people than measles and yet we consider it an individual’s right. I’m not supporting hating against smokers, just if anger needs to be redirected to a public health risk, maybe there are bigger fish to fry first.

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  24. Can you discuss where you are finding your data on the Disney outbreak and the numbers concerning vaccination? I only ask so I can quote the source when sharing. CNN is saying 82% are unvaccinated and had something like 34 victims with 29 unvaccinated.

    Thanks

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  25. You have more common sense than 10 people on this issue. Thank you. I am a naturopath.

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  26. The reason people get upset with those that choose not to vaccinate is because there are many children with compromised immune systems to don’t get to be vaccinated. So, unvaccinated children can catch diseases and pass them onto the other unvaccinated children with compromised immune systems who were not lucky enough to get a vaccine.

    The people who chose not to vaccinate may have the luxury of keeping their children in a bubble but many don’t have that option so your choice not to vaccinate increases their risk of disease.

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  27. I’ve started unfollowing pages and news sites on FB that post these blaming pages and have no balance. If a news outlet cannot at least indicate there are RISKS to vaccinating, they clearly aren’t truly working to ensure a free press in the US.

    There’s a lovely mini drop down button on posts. Click it (upper right) and say “I don’t want to see this” and then you won’t see posts either from that person or from the page that posted it.

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  28. The biggest insults to anti vaxxers is the constant stream of “stupid” “ignorant” “uneducated” “blindly following a dumb celeb” etc etc. Truth be told, the majority of anti vaxxers are extremely educated and extremely educated on vaccines. I find the people calling us stupid to be the ignorant ones blindly following their doctors and the status quo. Also for the record, my doctor fulling supports my decisions. Does that make her stupid compared to yours? Some of the worlds leading pediatricians do not vaccinate their own children yet a required to tell you to vaccinate yours because it’s their job.

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  29. Thank you for being open about your beliefs, reasons, and science for this very complicated decision. I do not have children yet, though we are trying, and so I decided to start researching some of these issues so that I would know my position when the time came. This issue is by far the most difficult/complicated one I’m struggling with. The evidence-based part of me comes down on the site of not vaccinating, mostly because I think that the vaccine manufacturers have the burden of proof of safety, efficacy, and necessity and I’m just not convinced they have it… but then there’s this bullying… this INSANITY…. and I lose my confidence that not vaccinating is the right decision. If I’m honest, I’m VERY strongly motivated to vaccinate simply because I don’t want to have to have this fight their whole lives…. how terrible of a reason is THAT?! All this name-calling and fear-mongering does nothing but obscure the facts that everyone has a right to so that we can make educated and informed decisions about what we put in our bodies. I really appreciate that you are so outspoken about this issue so that those of us out here have some place to start finding real data to make this very important decision for ourselves and our family.

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  30. The problem is that measles was well-contained until the anti-vax movement decided they were better than everyone and stopped vaccinating. If we still had the 90% vaccination rate we achieved for a brief moment in time, there would probably only be a handful of cases, not 70 and counting. Measles is HIGHLY contagious and spreads from one infected individual to dozens, especially if they are not already immune. If you are so sure your kids are healthy, you should find where these measles patients are being treated and ask for your kids to be exposed to them so they can build up their immunity naturally. Even if you don’t do this, you are going to have to be expected to face the vitriol, because what your movement is doing is irresponsible and you are playing with the lives of people and their children.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/27/381888697/to-protect-his-son-a-father-asks-school-to-bar-unvaccinated-children

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  31. I’ve seen a lot of people making the claim that the number of vaccinated cases in this outbreak means that vaccine doesn’t work, or doesn’t work as well as it’s supposed to. Since I, too, am a big believer in informed consent, just for funsies I decided to do dome math:

    37 unvaccinated casses
    5 vaccinated case
    total: 42 confirmed measles cases where we know the individual’s vaccination status

    Since we know that about 90% of susceptible individuals exposed to the virus will develop measles, we can calculated that 37/9*10 = 41 unvaccinated individuals were exposed to the measles virus.

    According to the CDC’s numbers for 2010, about 90% of Americans, on average, are vaccinated against the measles, meaning that, for every 1 unvaccinated person exposed, we can assume that 9 vaccinated people were exposed. 41*9 = 396. Out of those 369 who were exposed, only 5 developed measles, meaning that vaccinated individuals had a 5/396*100 = 1.3% chance of developing measles, compared to a 90% chance for unvaccinated individuals who’ve never had the disease.

    When calculating vaccine efficacy, however, you don’t just take the % of vaccinated individuals who developed the disease; you have to correct for the % who would have gotten the disease if they hadn’t been vaccinated. That would be 396 *0.9 = 356.4. So the vaccine efficacy is 100% – (5/356.4*100) = 98.6%, which agrees well with the reported efficacy rate.

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  32. I disagree with your post on many levels, but in aim of brevity and constructive conversation: I can’t help but find your post to be hypocritical. Please try to understand why I’m saying this, as it is not a personal attack, just something I think you should try to be aware of. There’s much hypocrisy in demanding your right to be heard, while signing petitions against others’ rights to voice opposite opinions. Also, keep in mind that everyone has a choice. If your choice is to NOT vaccinate your children, you must accept the (potential) consequences. Which could be as extreme as illness (again, POTENTIAL consequence) or as inconvenient as not being able to register with some schools, churches, doctors offices, etc. As it is the equally valid right of people and places to limit access to children that aren’t participating in herd immunity. Everyone has a right to choose. You have a right to chose not to vaccinate and take action how you feel necessary, no matter how much others disagree. And others have the right to disagree, or take action how they feel necessary, no matter how much YOU disagree.

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  33. You are allowed to make these decisions, but it is also my decision to not let my children around families like yours. So please don’t have a follow up about being excluded. I and many others are quite okay with that.

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  34. I think it’s important to separate the emotional response of being told that you, as a parent or caregiver, are wrong or not doing what is “right.” We should all be more kind to each other, and I agree whole-heartedly with that part of your post.

    The part with which I struggle/disagree in your follow-up comment. Deaths related to other causes (medical mistakes, in this case) are not relevant to your perfectly valid argument. You have data and quality information about vaccines in the original post, as well as good reasons that support your viewpoint. To be effective, in my opinion (because as you say, we’re all entitled), this post should stay on topic. There are a lot of problems in the world, but they are not all related. Turning the tables and insinuating that people who disagree with you don’t care about deaths not at all related to this just undermines your entire post.

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  35. My kids are vaccinated. It was my choice and one I stand by. I hate seeing my kids suffer even with colds and couldn’t imagine how horrible it would be if they have measles. The rash is painful, fever is painful, and it causes light sensitivity that feels like your eyes are burning.

    Why are people concerned about anti-vaxers? Because children under 1 year old cannot be vaccinated and are more susceptible to death. There are some people who can’t take the vaccine because of other medical conditions. They are counting on the disease stopping with those who are vaccinated because it cannot spread if you cannot catch it.

    And yet, I do not feel comfortable at all if our government made medical decisions for my children or anyone elses. So, even though I think vaccines are wonderful, I do not think anyone should be forced to take them.

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  36. Hi. I’m an immuno-compromised person. Every person who skips vaccines contributes directly to the odds that I could become seriously ill as herd immunity diminishes. I don’t want your unvaccinated kids anywhere near me. If that’s hate speech, you need a reality check.

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  37. So, its ok that the 800 ‘people’ who will die will be those who are too ill to fight off the illnesses that your child spreads around? What if YOUR child is one of those 800? Please understand that what you are saying by not vaccinating is that babies too young to be vaccinated or to young to fight off infections even if they HAVE been vaccinated, elderly citizens and neighbors, children, mothers, fathers, and friends undergoing cancer treatment, you are ok with these people dying, as long as it’s not your child. You rely on others to protect your child, but refuse to do the same. It is completely reasonable then, to not allow your child to participate in the community which you refuse to contribute to protecting.

    I know you will not publish this comment, as you have stated above, but I hope you take the time to read this article and consider the other side of the issue. Not vitriolic arguments and accusations against you, which as you say are completely unproductive. I agree. I am instead asking you to re-evaluate your beliefs with new information in hand. Do not limit your research to evidence which supports your existing beliefs, but truly evaluate the core reasoning, and ramifications to real, loving, kind, and deserving people, who rely on their community of friends, neighbors, peers, and families, to keep them safe, as we ALL do, in many ways.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/27/381888697/to-protect-his-son-a-father-asks-school-to-bar-unvaccinated-children

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  38. I like your post. I dislike being bullied and people trying to scare me into vaccinating. I went in for broken foot and got a 10 minute lecture on vaccinating!
    Also, people who refuse to even CONSIDER the fact that TODAY’s vaccines may not be good for their kids astound me. It IS about money. It IS about power. It is NOT about keeping people healthy and safe. There are way to many horrific side effects (up to and including death) from vaccines and the additives in them.
    All that being said, I am not anti-vax. I just think people should never ever inject a precious healthy perfect innocent baby, who is naturally immunized, with disgusting toxic chemicals and unnecessary junk.
    This article, read in it’s entirety, should be enough to get parents thinking.
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/24/catastrophic-vaccine-reactions.aspx

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  39. Measles is not a serious illness? In 2013 145,700 people died worldwide from measles. It is still a very dangerous and deadly disease in some parts of the world. Also, your argument does not mention any other disease except for measles. Measles is only one disease that children are vaccinated against in this country. There are many more diseases we have vaccines for, and millions of deaths worldwide attributed to vaccine preventable diseases. http://vec.chop.edu/service/parents-possessing-accessing-communicating-knowledge-about-vaccines/global-immunization/diseases-and-vaccines-a-world-view.html. By not vaccinating your child, you are putting everyone at risk of many of these diseases, not just measles.

    We take for granted herd immunity and access to vaccines and medical care in the US. In 3rd world countries, women walk miles with their children to get vaccines because they have seen the devastation left behind by these vaccine preventable diseases. The problem here is a class and privilege problem. The people refusing to vaccinate are coming from backgrounds of privilege and they don’t care that their actions are harming society as a whole. When the world revolves around you and your needs, your actions don’t have real-world consequences, and what happens to other people because of what you’ve done is irrelevant in your mind.

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  40. Thank you very much for this post. We do vaccinate our children; however, I have absolutely no issue with those who choose not to vaccinate. I understand the concept of “herd immunity” and other factors behind high rates immunization rates, but I am not convinced that those who are not vaccinated are a great harm to others.

    I have been completely taken aback by the amount of hatred that has surfaced toward those who choose not to vaccinate their children. I cannot even imagine trying to tell others what to do with their children, and it is very difficult for me to understand what makes people think that being hateful is going to help anything.

    You’re absolutely correct – enough is enough.

    Thanks again for the well-written and respectful post.

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  41. I support your right not to vaccinate your kids. I choose to vaccinate mine. I’m not that concerned about measles or chicken pox but I would rather my couldn’t be at a risk for polio or more dangerous illnesses.

    People who are that concerned with unvaccinated people around your unhealthy children should keep their kids home.

    If your child is not healthy enough to be vaccinated why are the parents concerned about the vaccine status of other kids? Your job is to make sure you keep your kid healthy. That means not taking your child to places where infection is possible. Do not take your unhealthy kid to Disneyland then be shocked when they get something. Have you seen people in amusement parks?

    People need to learn to take precautions. Do not take your 3 week old to Chucke Cheese and then complain there are unvaccinated kids there.

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  42. I’m sorry, I won’t be able to read your website anymore. This is too heartbreaking and frustrating. No, I cannot support hate and bullying, and I certainly would agree that the mainstream media often garbles things. But what, exactly, would have to happen for you to reconsider your stance?

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  43. I always think this is really a monetary thing. When looking at the numbers and risks no one ever mentions how many kids die from complications of 1)smoking while pregnant 2)second hand smoke. Where is the venom for that choice? Funny how a corporation makes money from selling tobacco.

    FWIW I make my living through vaccine clinics but I always evaluate each patient for risks and benefits. (And as for vaccine risks such as life threatening allergic reactions, I do see them and treat them.) I am not anti-vax. I hate that term. I am for treating each individual as an individual and not blindly following the heard health recommendations. BTW heard health means just that, the easiest way to contain an outbreak is to ship all affected to slaughter. Do we really want to embrace Stalinism?

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  44. To vaccinate or not is anyone’s choice. No question there. But I do have to ask…(because I don’t know you at all, and don’t want to make assumptions). How come you don’t know that it is had been scientifically proven that there is no link between MMR and Autism. It was initially proven by scientists at The Hospital For Sick Children (I’m not sure if you know where that is) several years ago. This was further studied and proven over subsequent years. Additionally, the doctors who published the initial study that (incorrectly) claimed there was as link recanted their article completely and lost their medical licences. They admitted that their study had been full of flaws and that the article that was published had absolutely no scientific merit. This is information that any any educated adult living pretty much anywhere in the world is aware of…and has access to.

    I can only speculate as to why you don’t know this information. It could speak to the type of, or amount of, schooling that you had as a child. Maybe this explains your difficulty in processing information that is at least a decade old.

    I’m not arguing about any other potential side effects of vaccinations. But any educated person knows that autism is not caused by vaccines. It is genetic. That is fact. and educated people know this.

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  45. You state that the people you need to be worried about are those who are sick, but what about those who have been infected and have not yet shown symptoms and are still able to spread a disease which can be prevented by vaccinations? In the case of measles, the incubation period can be as early as four days before an individual knows they have measles. How do those who are have immune deficiencies through no fault of their own protect from that?

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  46. THANK YOU for this post. I have a post of my own going up tomorrow about the hate being spewed left and right, and the misinformation I’m seeing. I’ve never encountered so much hate than by strangers on the internet judging us for our decision to delay vaccines on our children. I’ve shared this on FB and it will appear as a link on my blog.

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  47. I love your post! Thank you for approaching this touchy subject with grace and class. If I may, I’d like to point out a few things that have yet to be brought up.

    First, there are vaccines that shed for up to a month after receiving them because they contain live viruses. Varicella (chicken pox), MMR, and the Flu mist to name just a few. Those who have just received them are just as capable, if not more, of spreading these diseases. If someone who has a compromised immune system comes into contact with them, then who is to blame?

    Second, most adults who are out there spouting all of this hate against those who choose to not vaccinate are not even up-to-date themselves. Unless we start asking our friends for a copy of their shot records, which is a huge invasion of privacy, then there is not a valid argument to be made on behalf of those who vaccinate.

    Finally, there are diseases that have mutated because of vaccines and overuse of antibiotics, making the vaccines worthless. Para pertussis and various flu strains are perfect examples. Whooping cough can be spread passively. So even if someone has been vaccinated, they might just have a tiny cough, think nothing of it, and spread it around. One does not have to exude severe symptoms to be ill. If anything, I would think that would make those who are vaccinated (and, in theory, protected from becoming aggressively ill) more dangerous than those who are unvaccinated (or unprotected), as they could be carrying disease and spreading it around unknowingly.

    Again, thank you for sharing in such a polite manner. Please keep up the great work!

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  48. Thanks for another awesome post!
    Very informative. Pinned this and signed the petition. 🙂

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  49. If their kids are vaccinated, what are they afraid of from non vaccinated kids? Some vaccinated kids caught the measles. That makes me question the effectiveness of those vaccines.

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  50. I was reading the W.H.O’s website today and came across this fascinating stat:

    “Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%.”

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  51. I’m SOOO glad to see someone else able to view this with a rational mind. I can’t figure out why everyone is upset about the unvaccinated people getting Measles… and not a word about the vaccinated people getting it. Seriously? Nothing to say? Schools not letting unvaccinated kids attend for 2 weeks? I’m sorry, but if there were an outbreak somewhere, I wouldn’t want my vaccinated kids included either… it’s not invincibility. Who knows that they aren’t in the 5% the MMR doesn’t work on? Sooo, we only “care” about the unvaccinated kids but not the risk for the vaccinated? The whole thing is ridiculous. I would love more people to set aside their propaganda and take an honest look at this… one that does’t involve serious kick-backs and national funding and actually considers what’s best for kids… and lets us parents make that decision. I don’t know a single anti-vaxxer who made that choice flippantly, without a ton of research, or with the hope of being saved by a herd. As you said in a March post… ultimately, each parents loves their child (hopefully) and is doing the research and making the best choice for their family, whatever that is. The bullying is ridiculous.

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  52. Hi Kate,
    I appreciate your articles.
    I would also like to see bibliography/references to where you draw your information from, as I like to dig deep before making concrete decisions.

    Thanks again

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  53. Hi! Thank you for your article! I listened to my pediatrician and followed the recommended CDC schedule for my first child, I modified it for my second by spacing out some vaccines, and now I am pregnant with my third. I don’t really know what to do this time. I have learned so much more about vaccines since then and I am really starting to question whether some of them are right for our family. I know our parenting styles/choices change and evolve as we get more experience and better information. What do other parents do when they change their mind about something big? Is it “fair” to the older children that they had to go through something and the younger ones don’t?

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  54. Love ur article, the haters really sicken me and god bless u for sticking with it. I would just like to add that maybe people should really look at the ingredients of what’s being injected into their children. Ex. ” human diploid cells” and for those of u that don’t know what that is, it’s electively aborted fetuses!!! I bet ur pediatrician failed to mention that … And YES it really is some vaccines…

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  55. in south korea, where the vaccination rate is something like 94%-96%, they have just had a major national outbreak of measles and varicella. how do the pro-vaccine peeps explain that one?

    thank you for some common sense. i am tired of having to hide my decision to not vaccinte, for fear of the wrath of the pro-vaxxers.

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  56. Hang in there.
    My 5 children received chicken pox vaccines. All 5 got chicken pox.

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  57. Kate,

    I understand that you espouse the natural way to treat illnesses, etc., and seem to prefer the body’s own defense against the world. Does that mean that you have never used aspirin or other over the counter pain medicine? Since vaccines may require boosters, which you suggest means that they are less than effective, does that mean that you take only one pill out of the prescription bottle? When it’s cold outside, do you send your kids out without a jacket, because their skin alone should be good enough to protect them? While you may think this is sarcasm, the point still remains: There are simple things that the body needs assistance with, such as protection from cold, headache relief, etc. Are you OK with allowing your kids those luxuries, or do you just pick and choose which to allow or deny?

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  58. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s so hard to hear anything of value with all of the hysteria regarding measles. I think this perspective stems from the uniquely American belief that there is a quick fix for everything from depression to weight loss to illness. Let’s not figure out the whole picture of how measles may actually benefit the immune system by decrease the chance of arthritis and cancer. I find evolutionary medicine fascinating, particularly how bacteria have evolved to be resistant to antibiotics. This is another area I wonder about with vaccines.

    It seems that people cannot see what is right before them, but can obsess about tiny details if it is suggested we should fear it. The analogy I find most fitting for the situation of vaccines and medical field is to compare it to wall street and the subprime mortgage crisis – common sense says something is wrong here, but the culture perpetuated the myth that everything would be fine and the regulating authorities had limited information as well as trusted the banking institutions. Sound familiar?

    Keep up the good work! You are awesome!

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  59. “Nobody has the right to force medical care of any sort on anyone else. Period.” AMEN!!! I do vaccinate myself and my children, but would never want that choice taken away from me.

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  60. I’ve been in and out of the vax issue for 15 years, and I can’t recall the level of militancy from the pro side. A family member recently told us that they don’t want to hang around because of children aren’t vaccinated. They have a newborn, and are concerned about measles.

    I’ll always keep an open mind to vaccinations, but the current measles scare seem significantly overblown (at least North of the border in Canada). Although being called irresponsible and a moron is not ideal, it’s tolerable to have dissent.

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  61. Childhood illnesses were one of God’s creations. We do our best to provide a good environment so our children will be healthy. If they get sick, it is wonderful to have medical treatments, and if a child dies, he died a natural death. If, on the other hand, we vaccinate a healthy child knowing that there is a risk however small and that child dies, we are guilty of murder. God did not make a mistake when he created us or disease. We make a mistake when we try to play God.

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  62. Thanks for writing this Kate. My wife and I have been on the fence about vaccinations for a long time. We believe everyone should have the right to choose whether or not to vaccinate. It’s a touchy topic, and I applaud you for standing your ground… not an easy thing to do.

    We have two children who have received a few of the “recommended” vaccines (ones we felt were appropriate), but have steered clear of the large majority. We believe every parents should research what they are ok with, and go with their conscience. Period.

    What’s funny, is my children have never suffered from anything more than a mild cold, while the majority of their fully vaccinated peers are chronically sick – away from school and church. Even more interesting, is that our kids have been exposed to all the illnesses in closed environments at public events with these other children! We feed our children REAL food, and not the processed garbage you find in boxes, which I think is the best prevention of illness.

    We live in California – and with bill sb277 on the table (taking away a parents right to choose), well, that really tips us over the top. We are NOT anti-vaxxers, but we believe in personal choice. We have already decided on relocating if this garbage passes.

    And some of the commenters arguments for the “ill” child being exposed to a non-vaccinated child? I call BS. If your child has a compromised immune system, keep them out of high-risk and public places. It’s the child with the compromised immune system that’s the risk – not healthy children.

    It’s like that ridiculous flu shot they try to push on the public every year. IT DOESN’T WORK. I have family members who got the flu from that piece of big-pharma propaganda.

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  63. If your thinking of vaccinating, great, you’ve got nothing to worry about, you’ll never catch “that” disease, will you, your vaccinated. So why worry, your safe, your children are safe. Vaccinations always work, right ? There’s never been a recorded complication, right? And if so, it’s a small risk, it wont happen to your child, will it. If however, your unsure, perhaps you’d like to know the composition of what’s being injected directly into your soft tissue, or your child’s, by passing you’re GI tract, or skin for that matter. Well, in that case, ask for an independent analysis, form the an independent laboratory, with the requisite scientific standards in place, guaranteeing, objective, unbiased reporting. Then, you can make an informed decision, right? Or perhaps, ask the medical practitioner to sign off on the “fact” that vaccines are 100% safe & effective, making them liable, in case they aren’t. Let’s face it, we’re all the same aren’t we, gene’s or gene expression & genetic mutations couldn’t possibly influence how a foreign synthetic substance will effect our biology & respective response, after all vaccines where designed as a panacea, catering for the whole bell curve, right? If in doubt, you can always fall back on blood letting, or just rub some mercury on your chest; it’s bound to kill something.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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