By Barbara Loe Fisher
As the second decade of the 21st century begins, it is clear that the first one saw big changes in the way Americans think about health and vaccination. A good example is the fact that a majority of Americans "just said no" to getting an H1N1 influenza shot last year. The truth is, most of us just didn't buy the hype about swine flu. Perhaps it is because we are tired of constantly living in fear.
The Decade of Fear
Fear was the unifying emotion that defined the first decade of the 21st century in America. The Decade of Fear began on September 11, 2001, a day of indescribable loss that marked the ending of so much. Among the losses was the end of a civil and substantive conversation about vaccine safety that had taken shape during the previous two decades but which - after September 11, 2001 - was hijacked by fear.
WMD Allegations Fueled Calls for Smallpox Shots
Within weeks of 9-11, there were frantic warnings by government officials that terrorists had weaponized smallpox and it was necessary to immediately dilute stockpiles of reactive 40-year old smallpox vaccine to make enough to give a smallpox shot to every man, woman and child. Then the allegation that terrorists had hidden weapons of mass destruction to unleash deadly infectious diseases on all of us - was used to justify forcing soldiers to get multiple doses of reactive experimental anthrax vaccine.
Unprecedented Executive Branch Power
And within weeks of 9-11, a Congress driven by fear quickly passed The Patriot Act followed by the Homeland Security Act. Unprecedented authority was given to the Executive branch of our government, including creation of the third largest federal agency - the Department of Homeland Security. And then public health officials pushed for passage of new Model State Emergency Health Powers Acts to expand the police powers of state health officials whenever a public health emergency is declared.
Pharma and Public Officials Push Agendas
For three years after 9-11, special interest lobbyists invoked bioterrorism and fear of infectious microorganisms to persuade Congress to pass Bioshield and Pandemic Influenza legislation shielding vaccine manufacturers, doctors and public health officials from all liability when Americans are injured or killed by experimental vaccines or drugs used during a government declared public health emergencies.
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Barbara Loe Fisher is founder of the The National Vaccine Information Center, a national, non-profit educational organization founded in 1982. The oldest and largest consumer organization advocating the institution of vaccine safety and informed consent protections in the mass vaccination system, NVIC is responsible for launching the vaccine safety and informed consent movement in America in the early 1980's.
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