It’s been 5 years since I have written anything about autism, vaccine-safety, or the controversies surrounding either. I took a break in late 2017 for personal reasons and spent some time focusing exclusively on them. Subsequently, 2018 and 2019 were very difficult but exciting years for me, free from at least one heavy situation I had immersed myself in for the previous 14: advocacy.
And then 2020 happened.
Like everyone, never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d experience what we did when we did. But perhaps not like everyone, I did foresee the implications of a vaccine-only response to a pandemic barreling down the train tracks a long time ago. I just didn’t see those implications coming to fruition in 2021.
I thought the types of things we were introduced to last year…like vaccine passports…and segregation based on vaccine status…and the loss of freedom to make your own medical decisions and still participate in a free society and/or keep your job…and “quarantine” camps….and globally organized censorship of medical dissent….would be something I wouldn’t see until old age.
Alas, here it is decades earlier. The worst case scenario of worst case scenarios playing out in front of us. All the things fellow advocates and I feared becoming reality way back in 2005 in full effect only 17 years later. (For some perspective, consider this. California was a destination for medical freedom as recently as 2014. They were one of only a handful of states with a philosophical exemption to vaccines for a long time.)
When I first became involved back then, I would write and talk about the potential implications of the medical industrial complex’s behavior towards vaccine uptake, hesitancy, and injury. I naively believed that logic, fairness, and compassion still ruled the day, and that if we could just make the right argument with the right evidence to the right people, everything could be fixed.
It seemed so simple, so reasonable.
Limit liability protection to very specific products for a very specific amount of time. Allow manufacturers to be sued in a real court. Subject their data and research to discovery. Create a tiered schedule that classifies vaccines by highly recommended; recommended; and lifestyle situational. Establish an independent oversight agency. Release the safety data sets that have been sent off shore for anyone to review. Allow consumers to decide what they will and won’t inject into their bodies. Let the free market rule.
Not so simple after all, it turns out, especially when trillions of dollars and criminal charges are at stake.
So many things in life are a paradox, where what we need to do to achieve our goal seems completely at odds with our goal. Say, eating fat to lose fat. Or preserving the rights of the individual in order to preserve the existence of a country. Or putting an oxygen mask on yourself before putting one on your child to save them.
It is my sincerest belief the same paradox applies to the vaccine controversy. The answer to addressing vaccine hesitancy was never to censor or deny or minimize the dangers of vaccines; it was to admit them openly. It was never to fear liability, it was to welcome it. It was never to gaslight the vaccine injured, it was to honor them.
Had the powers that be been able to see this years ago, we may not be in this mess today. Had they only had HEART, trust would never have diminished.
H - Honor
Honor the injured, their families, and the sacrifice they have made for society. If the justification for mandates is the greater good, then the greater good owes these fallen comrades and their families the recognition of their service.
(The current practice of denying their injury, manipulating evidence, gaslighting victims, and accusing the injured of harming others for speaking their truth is as shameful as it gets. Putting these families on the defensive and then turning them into the enemies is nothing short of evil. To be clear, there is no “anti-vax” movement if this had never happened.)
E - Educate
Educate people. Educate medical consumers and providers about vaccine injury, what it looks like, sounds like, acts like, and presents like. We need doctors to be well versed in short term AND long term vaccine injury as well how to treat it. Stop saying it’s rare, as well. You can’t say something is rare if you’ve never accurately or thoroughly studied it. And most importantly, it doesn’t matter if it’s rare when it happens to you or someone you love.
A - Acknowledge
Acknowledge the tremendous conflicts of interest at play and work tirelessly to limit them. Acknowledge what you do and do not know about vaccine safety over a lifetime. Acknowledge that you don’t know how to recognize it or treat it very well. Acknowledge the lack of an independent oversight agency. Acknowledge the CDC is serving two masters: the same agency responsible for promoting vaccine uptake is also responsible for its safety. Acknowledge that this is a problem.
R - Research
Research vaccine injury. For real. Really research it. Once and for all, study the totality of the recommended vaccine schedule for children, not just one vaccine and one ingredient. Don’t add one more vaccine to the schedule before you do.
Study short term and long term affects over a lifetime. Study genetic vulnerabilities. Study treatment plans. Study everything you can possibly think of to implicate vaccines in causing harm and how to avoid or fix it by identifying vulnerable people. Medical consumers deserve nothing less.
T - Treat
Treat the injured. Find robust, effective, quality treatments. Tell the truth about what happened to them. No more of this “coincidence” nonsense. Assume the injury is from the vaccine until you prove it is not, not the other way around, as is the case with many other medical conditions. (I eat something and immediately get sick, no one makes me prove it was the food. No one tells me that millions of other people ate the food and felt fine, therefore it couldn’t have harmed me.) Quality, independent research will prove what happened anyway. There’s nothing to fear.
We don’t have a crisis of faith in science or medicine and never did. We have a crisis of faith in our leadership and an industry with an abysmal track record of harming the consumers it claims to care about when money is at stake.
The answer isn’t to censor, insult, or ignore those whose trust has been broken. The answer is to take responsibility for why and how the trust has been broken and do whatever it takes to fix it. You know, to actually have a HEART.
Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism. She spent over 15 years advocating for children and families affected by autism by working with and for various organizations. She is also the author of An Unfortunate Coincidence: a mother’s life inside the autism controversy (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016).