Editor’s Note: I’ve often said that the community that has grown up around Age of Autism is the best thing about it – from our Contributing Editors to our commenters and Facebook friends to those who donate or simply read (simply reading is the heart of the matter for a blog, anyway). We appreciate all of you.
Many comments are so well thought out and add so much to the conversation that I wish we could run them as standalone posts – and sometimes, such as today, we do. This comment below by Ted Kuntz shows how destructive and wrong it is to divide a complicated and critical conversation into two supposedly warring camps – vaccine backers and anti-vaccine zealots.
So please read it and at the end I’ll make a few comments, not to argue with the observations but to add a couple of my own. – Dan Olmsted.
In response to this article: Waking Up To Vaccine Reality:
The media tend to portray the “dialogue” about vaccines as a debate between two groups of people – pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers. As a participant in countless conversations about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines I've learned there are many more factions participating in this process. It’s helpful to know who we might be in conversation with. They include:
- Pro-Vax Crusaders -- These are the most staunch adherents to the current vaccine paradigm. Followers of this position are resolute in their belief that vaccines are “safe and effective” and that “vaccine injury is rare and an unfortunate but necessary cost of protecting the greater good”. Those with the most extreme position are “crusaders” who believe everyone must be vaccinated with or without their consent. They believe the ‘greater good’ trumps the medical ethic of informed consent or individual rights and freedoms. They also believe “the science is settled” and are committed to silencing and censuring any discussion about vaccine safety and effectiveness.
- Compliant Vaxxers -- These members include those who vaccinate themselves or their children, not out of a well-informed choice, but rather out of compliance with current practices and societal beliefs. The decision of whether to vaccinate, with which vaccines, and when is transferred to doctors, nurses, and other “health authorities”. They simply comply with the recommendations of these “health authorities” and hold the belief that “they wouldn’t recommend vaccines if they weren’t safe and effective.” They may not be advocates of mandatory vaccinations, but also do not fully embrace informed consent.
- Hesitant Vaxxers -- These members include those who are beginning to question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. They witness the rising rates of autism, neurological and immunological disorders, seizures, and allergies. They continue to participate in the vaccine program but do so hesitantly. They may delay in getting themselves or their children vaccinated or decide not to receive all vaccines. They are uncertain about what is the best decision for themselves and their children and remain susceptible to persuasion/coercion from the media and medical industry.
- Reluctant Vaxxers -- These members include those individuals who vaccinate because of state/government mandates and other coercive and punitive measures. They believe they have no choice but to succumb to vaccinations, and/or they live in a community where medical choice and informed consent no longer exist (California/Australia).
- Regretful Vaxxers -- This group consists of those individuals and parents who may have once been pro-vaxxers, compliant, hesitant, or reluctant vaxxers, and then experienced severe adverse effects, injury, and/or the death of a loved one following a vaccination. They are regretful of their decision to vaccinate and wish they had done more research on the topic before complying. Their goal is to alert others to the potential consequences of vaccination that they have personally experienced. They actively question the vaccine dogma and are strong advocates for informed consent and safer vaccines.
- Anti-Vaxxers -- This is a small but well educated group of individuals, most often scientists, researchers, medical professionals and sometimes parents who recognize the biological, neurological and/or immunological consequences of injecting vaccine ingredients into the human body. They are open and direct in expressing their concern about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination program.
- Financial and Political Benefactors -- This group consists of individuals and groups (vaccine manufacturers, medical industry, CDC, politicians, media) who have a financial and/or political stake in protecting the current vaccine paradigm. They are strong advocates of “more of the same” and dismiss any concerns about vaccine safety and effectiveness. These individuals and organizations are more committed to protecting the vaccine program than in protecting individuals. They hold the position that - "Any possible doubts, whether or not well founded, about the safety of the vaccine (program) cannot be allowed to exist." They advocate for mandatory vaccinations and an increased vaccination schedule.
- Internet Trolls -- This is a group of individuals who are employed by the medical industry to discourage public discussion about vaccine safety and effectiveness. They “troll” Internet websites, opinion columns, and comment sections of media to bully, intimidate, and silence anyone who expresses concern about vaccine safety and effectiveness. Their means of engagement is primarily personal attacks and name calling.
Hope this helps those new to the discussion.
A Regretful Vaxxer who is on his way to becoming an Anti-Vaxxer."
So that is Ted’s much more reasonable look at the spectrum of vaccine safety concerns than the usual media caricature. To that I’d like to add one more category, suggested by Kim Stagliano after Laura Hayes brought this useful discussion to the fore. Kim said:
“Perhaps another layer? Where would those who emphasize vaccine choice fit in? The ‘never for my kids but you do what you want” group? Or the “I want just polio but NOT Gardasil’ – they are also important in the dialogue.”
The vaccine choice option is important to me, too. The fundamental idea that parents, as proxies for the developing child, have the right to make these decisions seems fundamental. I wrote last week about how some candidates, such as Rand Paul, who favors less government intrusion overall, see that as the crux of the matter. And Donald Trump, when he links autism with too many vaccines too soon, is essentially pointing to overreach by the medical bureaucracy that denies parents the chance to space out and select vaccines as they see fit.
As Mark Blaxill has framed the issue, if market forces – the economic model we claim to follow in this country – were allowed to function, the vaccines that most people felt were safe and necessary would survive, and ones like Gardasil and hep B at birth and chickenpox and – well, a lot of them, would lose out.
Something tells me that the more nuanced view Ted writes about here – along with the focus on choice that Kim and I believe is fundamental – is going to be getting a lot more attention in the next four years than it did in the last eight. And I say that regardless of who becomes president – the issue has been joined, and as the autism rate soars, it will only get bigger.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.