Updated: Nov 27, 2019
I have a thirst for knowledge. As a parent and a writer, I make an effort to stay current with events going on in my community and around the world. Those two significant pieces of my life don't always cross, but today they do. I'm sharing this with you today, because I'm passionate about my family and I genuinely care about humanity. I'm not an expert. I'm not a doctor. I'm not being paid by anyone. I'm just a mama bear searching for truth in issues that matter. Here's what I've found in regards to vaccines, and the current events happening in California.
There's a current Senate Bill No. 276- approved as of September 9, 2019, that is taking over headlines in the world of public health and social media. In response to this bill, I found concerned parents with many questions. With no political platform of their own, parents turned to social media as part of their protest. What I heard was heartbreaking. Displays of fear, anger, and hate filtered through my online accounts with their posts, pictures, and questions. I reached out to these parents to better understand their concerns. What was even more troubling was what they shared with me directly in the Just Asking Campaign. These moms are furious, terrified, and to be honest, often misinformed and outdated in their information. I contacted hundreds of people online, and nobody had ever actually read the bill they were protesting, or even understood how vaccinations work. Depending on who you spoke to, they also didn't seem to be on the same page as to what they were protesting. I found pro-vaxxers, anti-vaxxers, ex-vaxxers, anti-Big Pharma, and those strictly protesting what they felt was a human rights issue. Everyone I spoke to said something different. I compiled a list of commonly found questions that they're raising. Here is what I found through my investigative research to help answer and respond to my fellow concerned parents.
Q: Why are we vaccinating babies when those vaccines cause autism?
A: This is one of the most commonly debunked vaccine myths. As found by publichealth.org, "The widespread fear that vaccines increase risk of autism originated with a 1997 study published by Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon. The article was published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, suggesting that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine was increasing autism in British children.
The paper has since been completely discredited due to serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and the paper was retracted from The Lancet."
Another issue on this topic is how society blindly follows celebrities. I know it's hard when we see someone we admire take a position on something, and you want to believe it, too. Can we all just agree and acknowledge one thing... the well known Playboy Bunny who lead the public in a war on vaccinations is not a doctor or scientist. Great, moving on.
Q: "If you're 35 or older, you've had fewer vaccines than a 6-month-old baby."
related question: "Why does my baby have more vaccinations, than I've had in a lifetime?"
A: Hepatitis B is most affected by adults ages 30-39 years of age. If you're a mother like me, who falls into this age category, you are statistically found to be at the greatest risk. This disease is commonly spread from infected needles- often related to the opioid crisis, sexual contact, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers. According to the World Health Organization, "In highly endemic areas, hepatitis B is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth (perinatal transmission), or through horizontal transmission (exposure to infected blood), especially from an infected child to an uninfected child during the first 5 years of life. The development of chronic infection is very common in infants infected from their mothers or before the age of 5 years."
As mothers, we are at one of the highest risks of exposure to our precious babies. The other risk is their exposure to each other before age 5.
Of course, society has more vaccines now than we did 35 years ago. We know more than we did 3 decades ago. Part of the human experience is to evolve. Not just individually, but through science, medical, and technical advances as well. That is what life is about. Growing and developing more knowledge. What a fascinating time we live in with our capabilities of accessing more facts, and the ability to understand them.
Q: "How many kids have to die before you take us seriously?"
A: The death toll and those found to be infected are being taken very seriously. That's part of what initiated the movement for this bill in the first place. Real Stories, Real People is, in my opinion, something every parent should look at. Understanding how others are impacted by your choice to not vaccinate is also an imperative voice to this topic. This decision affects more than just your home.
I understand that part of this question relates to the fear of seizures, vaccine injury, amongst other concerns. That leads us to our next question.
Q: "Why are CA residents not being given the right to choose in a medical procedure that was declared unavoidably unsafe by the US Supreme Court in 2011?"
A: This question is in regards to the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth case. Unfortunately, this question is one that is layered in misinformation. This case was about a baby who suffered seizures. The parents claimed it was due to her third booster shot of the DTP vaccine. From the research done on this vaccine, the courts found that there was no link between the seizures and the vaccination.
The risks for seizures are minimal. For those of you concerned with children who already experience seizures, here is what's written into the Senate Bill No. 276:
"Existing law exempts from those requirements a pupil whose parents have filed with the governing authority a written statement by a licensed physician to the effect that immunization is not considered safe for that child, indicating the specific nature and probable duration of their medical condition or circumstances, including, but not limited to, family medical history."
A parent/guardian is also allowed to appeal a medical exemption denial or revocation.
Q: Another concerned mother sent me this article. I read it carefully with an open heart:
An Open Letter to Nick Paumgarten, Author of “The Message of Measles”
A: The outrage. The distrust. I see you. I hear you. I feel you.
As per my previous Q&A, the government is not forcing you to vaccinate your children if you can provide documentation of their medical reason. There are a lot of statistics listed in this letter. I could not find these statistics listed in published factual scientific documents. The fear that vaccines don't work, or don't work well enough is rooted in not understanding the science behind it. I've attached some information listed in my sources below. Please read.
Q: Isn't the vaccination requirement for children a violation of our human rights?
A: This is not a human rights issue. This is a public health issue. Required vaccinations affect the entire world, not just the United States. The World Health Organization helps to regulate this. This is bigger than Big Pharma. Bigger than our government. This is about prevention of disease worldwide.
Childhood vaccinations in Africa and Asia prevent over 2 million deaths every year. Families travel far distances to wait in lines to receive these vaccinations that our nation protests. Their protests and war are on deadly viruses, such as polio. They face real disease every day, and desire to rid their nation of it.
Let's not allow our misinformation to consume our egos. Let's learn about their journeys and experiences to help us understand what it means to truly live in a society that is plagued with disease.
My beautiful baby girl turned 1 this week. As I sat in the doctor's office awaiting her MMR shot, I thought about all of the other mothers who chose a different path for their children. Although I will be open with my distrust of Big Pharma and painkillers, I do feel differently about vaccinations. I decided that the research is sound. The chance that my baby may have a small rash outweighed the risk of disease.
I thought about my journey with vaccinations. How I continue to choose to get vaccinated as an adult to protect myself against the flu and HPV. How grateful I am to have had the HPV vaccination after surviving a sexual assault, and how that protected me against disease after enduring trauma.
As parents, we share the same goals. We want what's best for our children. We want them to be safe and healthy. We need to ask questions. I applaud all of the parents out there who are asking questions. That's the beauty of the freedom we have.
Asking questions is the first step. Seeking truth in answers, and accepting facts are the next steps. I want to encourage communication between the public and medical science. We need to start a healthy dialogue together.
That's why I'm initiating this new campaign and platform, Just Answers Campaign (follow and post in the hashtag to stay informed, and ask questions).
Let's use this tool to bridge the gap. Provide and allow communication for those with questions so they can access information directly from public health professionals, and those specializing in medical science. I've included my research listed below. I encourage everyone to be please read, and be informed.
"Knowledge is power."
- Sir Francis Bacon
Vaccine myths debunked: https://www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/understanding-vaccines/vaccine-myths-debunked/
Childhood vaccines: Tough questions, straight answers: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/vaccines/art-20048334
When parents choose not to vaccinate: Risks and responsibilities: https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/when-parents-choose-not-to-vaccinate-risks-and-responsibilities
Public's anger toward and lost of trust in Big Pharma is adding fuel to the of measles outbreak: https://khn.org/morning-breakout/publics-anger-toward-and-loss-of-trust-in-big-pharma-is-adding-fuel-to-the-fire-of-measles-outbreak/
Understanding how vaccines work: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdf
No, a Vaccine Court ruling does not show vaccines cause SIDS: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-vaccine-court-science-doesnt-always-win-out/
Real Stories, Real People: http://www.nfid.org/real-stories-real-people
How countries around the world try to encourage vaccination: https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/06/health/vaccine-uptake-incentives/index.html
The journey of your child's vaccine: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/infographics/journey-of-child-vaccine.html
An Open Letter to Nick Paumgarten, Author of “The Message of Measles”: https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/an-open-letter-to-nick-paumgarten-author-of-the-message-of-measles/
Factors related to HPV vaccine uptake and 3-dose completion among women in a low vaccination region of the USA: an observational study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4957275/pdf/12905_2016_Article_323.pdf
Bruesewitz v. Wyeth: What the Supreme Court Decision Means for Vaccines: http://healthland.time.com/2011/02/24/bruesewitz-v-wyeth-what-the-supreme-court-decision-means-for-vaccines/
How former 'The View' host Jenny McCarthy became the face of the anti-vaxx movement: https://www.insider.com/jenny-mccarthy-became-the-face-of-the-anti-vaxx-movement-2019-4
Childhood vaccination in Africa and Asia: the effects of parents’ knowledge and attitudes:
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