No, this is not a parody piece. Or a bait and switch gotcha attempt. There is no surprise twist at the end of this little guide where I try to change your perspective. Not through guile, subtle wit, or sarcasm. Not with facts, figures, or graphs. Not even with a personal story, or the offer of an ice-cream cone.
No, the strategies I’m offering here are not going to be ironic ones that secretly try to impugn your reasoning or make your perspective seem irrational. I happen to believe that given what science has and has not yet told us, a choice either for or against vaccination can be rational. You chose to vaccinate. I didn’t. This is a sincere attempt to create common ground.
Before I share the strategies, just so you’re sure that I more or less get where you’re coming from, let me attempt a short respectful precis of your perspective. Forgive me if I leave out anything important.
You embrace the vaccination paradigm. You see it as almost a miracle. A way to change your child’s body so she or he won’t contract illnesses that under certain circumstances could cause serious complications and even death.
You think people are foolish and irresponsible not to vaccinate their children with every CDC recommended vaccine, according to the CDC recommended schedule.
You believe that avoiding recommended vaccinations is not just irresponsible, but selfish. You see vaccinating as something you do, not just for individual protection, but for the greater good, for people who are too young, or too immuno-compromised to receive a vaccine. You may believe that people who don’t vaccinate are selfish like the draftees who slipped over the Canadian border to avoid serving in Vietnam. Or if you don’t think the draftees were selfish, then you may feel comfortable comparing people who don’t vaccinate to people who sneak into a buffet for which everyone else has paid.
You are confident that serious vaccine injury is such a rare occurrence that vaccinating is by far the safer choice than not vaccinating.
I will challenge none of that. I accept your perspective, and will in no way try to alter it.
Instead, I will offer you five strategies for getting those of us who don’t currently share your perspective, to join you in embracing the use of vaccines to maximize health:
ONE: If you walk beneath the banner of the vaccination paradigm, and want others to embrace the practice, commit to convincing us to enlist voluntarily. Don’t support or egg on efforts to conscript the non-vaccinating minority with vaccine mandates — either the explicit or in-all-but-name sort. It’s okay if you feel that mandated vaccinations are perfectly ethical. You can feel that way. Just for strategy’s sake, don’t try to make it happen, because its quite likely to backfire.
Believe me, I understand the impulse to force people to do something that I feel would be best for them and for myself and for society. But many of us who at this time have decided against making use of one or more vaccines will interpret such efforts to force vaccination upon us as evidence that vaccination as a strategy for maximization of health isn’t the transparently clear best choice. We may doubt your judgement or good intentions if you are willing to violate the tenet of informed consent. We tend to think like illustrator Michael Leunig:
TWO: Make a strategic alliance with vaccine safety advocates for the purpose of pressuring the government to fund a large scale prospective study of the health outcomes of fully vaccinated children versus fully un-vaccinated children. Because until that study is done, and the results show what you already believe (that vaccination does not negatively impact health), many non-vaccinators will not be convinced. Here is the website for the main vaccine safety consumer advocacy group. www.nvic.org If your goal is to hurry up and get to the time in history when everyone wants to vaccinate, and you don’t want to resort to fascist means, consider asking your representatives in Congress to support calls for such a study.
Representative Bill Posey of Florida has already introduced a bill that would provide the funding and means for such a study. Running such a study will harm no one, and clarify a lot, and assuming you are right that it will show that vaccines are not associated with elevated rates of autoimmune disease, asthma, brain damage, and autism, then it will encourage a lot of non-vaccinators to reassess their choice. Please encourage others who are very supportive of vaccination to also help support this bill. Scientists have done many studies of non-vaccinated and vaccinated animals. Here’s one comparing non-vaccinated sheep and those vaccinated for blue tongue disease. They yield valuable information.
THREE: Make a second strategic alliance. Join the fight to reverse the decision made by Congress in 1986 to indemnify the pharmaceutical companies for their vaccine products through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act.
Pharmaceutical companies currently bear no legal responsibility for vaccine injuries that are known to sometimes occur after use of their product (see vaccine inserts from CDC [pdf])
Even if you are entirely confident that even with no liability, pharmaceutical companies do the best job possible in terms of producing the safest vaccines possible, remember that many non-vaccinators are not confident about that. Many of us believe that the lack of pharmaceutical liability encourages vaccine manufacturers to cut corners and put profits over safety. Even someone extremely enthusiastic about vaccines should not find it difficult to support tort liability for a powerful very profitable industry.
You can start by signing this petition. It asks for vaccine manufacturers to once again be liable for their products, as they used to be. If you consider yourself a progressive, you could also let the “Move On” folks know that you approve of such a petition, and that they should boost it more, since they have topped the petition with a banner saying that the petition may not be in keeping with progressive values. I disagree. This is a non partisan bill, that simply seeks to keep powerful corporations accountable. What do you think? See petition page for more information.
FOUR: Have you heard of William Thompson, the veteran senior scientist at the CDC who a year ago made serious allegations of scientific malfeasance with regard to a specific very important piece of vaccine research conducted at the agency? Here’s his press release
It’s been a year since Dr. Thompson alleged that, among other things, a finding of an association between age of African American boys when given the MMR and rates of autism had been omitted from a study report. No congressional investigation has been launched.
Here’s Representative Bill Posey bringing up the matter to the House in July, and asking for a hearing (Click on Bill Posey in the “filter by speaker” menu) Here’s an account that ran in the Compton Herald for context.
Even if you love vaccines so much you want to keep them as pets, consider helping to make sure that this whistleblower’s allegations are publicly investigated. Why? Because even if you are not personally troubled by the allegations, people like me are extremely troubled by them. They have tanked what was left of our trust in the CDC.
If you want us all to vaccinate, it would be strategic for you to help make sure that Thompson’s allegations are not swept under the rug. If there is no congressional investigation, people like me will be even less likely to ever believe anything the CDC has to say on the subject of vaccine safety. This is how we think:
If just to show us that there are no research-cooking bogeymen in the closet, and that the close ties between the CDC and pharmaceutical players are not a problem, consider asking your elected representative to support efforts to subpoena Dr. Thompson to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. I think we can all get behind transparency and scientific integrity.
***And nevermind what Snopes says for crying out loud! They don’t know anything more than the rest of us. Talk about a red herring! Nobody is claiming that the CDC most definitely committed research fraud. We are saying that given the seriousness of the allegation, and the standing of the person making the allegation, there should be an investigation.
FIVE: Support calls for more transparency with regard to vaccine injury in the United States. It is more or less impossible at the moment for a parent to get raw accurate data on rates of vaccine injury occurring.
The CDC runs something called the “Vaccine Safety Datalink” that tracks vaccine injury among patients in nine HMOs. Its data sets however are NOT accessible to the public, and only barely and selectively accessible to hand-selected researchers. The CDC has also passed its management to a private contractor which makes it impossible to access data through a FOIA request. Not confidence building.
You can look at the passive reporting system known as VAERS, but its just well…passive. It has been estimated by researchers that only a small fraction of adverse events are ever reported to it.
This information should be accessible to the public. People like me need to see for ourselves that there really are only one in a million cases of serious health issues or death that arise from the use of vaccines. Help us advocate for that access.
So there you have it. Five strategies that the most ardent supporter of vaccine use could pursue. Five ways in which vaccine safety activists, and those most confident in the safety, usefulness, and efficacy of vaccines, could work together.
Look, even groups of people concerned firstly with ending the practice of abortion and people concerned firstly with protecting the right of women to control their own bodies, have found common ground in trying to find ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
If THAT’s possible. Surely non-vaccinators and vaccinators can find similar constructive common ground? Let’s work together to bring about changes that will increase transparency and accountability in the arena of vaccinations. Changes that will hurt no one and possibly help everyone, and maybe just maybe get people like me to start vaccinating.
I know that there are some people who are secretly afraid that the public just can’t handle the truth, and that certain facts about vaccine injury or worrisome research are best left in the shadows or made public at the discretion of an organization like the CDC. They worry that openly acknowledging all the economic, social and scientific pieces of the vaccine picture, could frighten more people away from vaccination.
If that is truly your feeling, and it keeps you from acting for more transparency and accountability, then the potential for common ground is in jeopardy. Perhaps some reconsideration on that point is possible? People like me believe the public can and should handle all the truth, whatever it may turn out to be.
Those happily vaccinating, can of course, decline to act on these five strategies, but please then understand: You will likely never get me or others of my ilk to accept the vaccine paradigm in the absence of progress on the goals outlined above.
Help us get there.