By Marcella Piper-Terry
It's that time of year again. Parents throughout the U.S. are scrambling to get their children ready to head back to school. In addition to pencils, protractors and other educationally-related paraphernalia, many parents are packing their kids off to the pediatrician's office. The push for vaccines is on in full-force. Some parents don't question whether or not this is a good thing. They just comply. Others comply because they don't believe they have a choice. When tv news and local papers scream out, "No Shots, No School!" it can feel as if you have a gun to your head. This is especially likely to be true if you are a single parent, or if your family is reliant on two incomes to make your mortgage payment or rent. If your kids can't go to school, you can't work. So, even if you have serious concerns about vaccines, you may feel forced to load them in the car and take them for the shots.
This time last year, I decided I'd had enough of the one-sided reporting. I live in Southwestern Indiana. Indiana, like 47 other states, provides parents with the legal right to religious exemptions from vaccination. When the Evansville Courier and Press newspaper printed a front page story telling parents their kids couldn't go to school unless their vaccines were "up-to-date," I asked for a retraction. Or at least a follow-up, letting parents know their legal rights. I was told in no uncertain terms that there would be no follow-up and there would be no story about religious exemptions. To quote the Metro Editor of the largest daily newspaper in the Evansville area, "I am not going to print anything that would cause parents to question the safety of vaccines." Period. I tried to point out that this was not about questioning the safety of vaccines; it was a matter of balanced journalism and reporting the facts. Parents do have choices. It's the law. He wouldn't budge. So... I took matters into my own hands. That's how VaxTruth and the Billboard Campaign came into existence.
VaxTruth has placed billboards in four states over the last year: Indiana, Texas, Colorado and California. Within the next few weeks we will have billboards proclaiming "No Shots, No School... NOT TRUE!!" in Austin, Texas and in Kansas. We would like to have more and we are receiving messages on an almost daily basis, asking for more. The need is there. Parents want to know and they are tired of being lied to.
Vaxtruth as an organization is still in its infancy. We are growing, but we are not able to meet the need for billboards without soliciting help from people at the local level.
If you would like to have a "No Shots, No School... NOT TRUE!!" billboard in your area, we want to help. We encourage you to help us by doing the legwork and fundraising in your communities. The process is really quite simple. First, contact your local outdoor advertising company to find out what they have available, and the cost. Cost varies greatly by location, with billboards in urban areas costing significantly more than billboards in areas that are less populated. The length of time the message will be shown is also a factor that affects cost. If you have a large group of people who will help with fundraising, or if you have people who will donate higher amounts, you can obviously go for more exposure for longer times. Billboards can cost as little as $500 for a month in some areas, and as much as $4,000 or more for a week in major markets like Los Angeles.