As Vaccine Awareness Week 2018 approaches, I am reminded how precious freedom of speech is in our country and how important it is to defend it.
Late last week, NVIC was informed that Pinterest removed our account. The Pinterest Team stated, “many of your pins violate our Community Guidelines on misinformation” and explained that “we take actions against accounts that repeatedly save content that includes harmful advice, misinformation that targets individuals or protected groups, or content that originates from disinformation campaigns.”
Earlier this week I sent a letter to Pinterest appealing the take down of NVIC’s Pinterest account. While we wait for a response, I hope you will take a moment to think about what value you place on freedom of thought, speech and autonomy. What value do you place on the free press and Internet? Should opposing facts and opinions be censored when they do not agree with the majority? Will rational dissenting viewpoints be conveniently painted as “fake news” or “misinformation?”
Amid well-publicized vaccine failures for mumps,1 2 3 pertussis,4 5 6 7 and influenza,8 9 10 we cannot talk about vaccines…unless it is to praise them. To do other than praise vaccines is to be labeled anti-vaccine. It shouldn’t matter if you do not vaccinate, selectively vaccinate, or vaccinate according to government recommendations because we live in a country with a Constitution that basically says we don’t have to agree with each other and may voice our viewpoints without being sanctioned. I was taught that, while we may not always agree with each other, we can respectfully speak and listen to each other.
A lot has changed culturally in that respect since I made vaccine decisions for my two daughters. They are grown and gone. But I didn’t have to hide our decision from our neighbors; it was something we could actually talk about, without fear or judging each other. That’s not really true today.11
I chose to work at NVIC because of this organization’s long-established track record of neutrality, education and defense of the informed consent ethic.12 13 I have long-admired our co-founders who gave voice to the fact that vaccines can cause injury and death, and who fought like hell to get that fact publicly acknowledged. How did they do that? Well, it wasn’t their opinion that convinced Congress to include vaccine safety and research provisions in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. NVIC’s co-founders efforts were grounded in the medical literature, which had recorded for decades that DPT vaccine is a highly reactive vaccine that could cause brain damage in children.14 15 16 17 They were, in turn, supported by many parents of children who were also vaccine-injured and wanted safety reforms instituted in the vaccination system. Ironically, it was a journalist who blew the whistle on the whole cell pertussis vaccine,18 19 and the rest as they say is history. Or is it?
I am not sure if what passes for news today really is news. I do know that respect for autonomy, freedom of speech and the exercising of informed consent to vaccination is eroding.20
I will never forget the mom who walked up to me in Colorado as we were opposing a bill proposing to restrict the personal belief exemption to vaccination. That mom said – “I vaccinate my child with all CDC recommended vaccines” – and she paused, while I took a deep breath and got ready to defend my ground. Then she added - “And I am appalled that someone wants to take away my right to decide which vaccines to use.”
S H E G O T I T.
While NVIC’s supporters make many different vaccination decisions, we have one thing in common - CHOICE! NVIC has never been about telling the public to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. Are we critical of vaccine laws and policies? You bet! Do we focus on vaccine risks? Of course! Do we support voluntary vaccine decision-making? Absolutely! Why?
OUR MISSION - The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and advocating for informed consent protections in medical policies and public health laws. NVIC defends the human right to freedom of thought and conscience and supports the inclusion of flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions in vaccine policies and laws.
NVIC was founded by parents of vaccine-injured children. Everything we do is through that lens. Our co-founders, who faithfully vaccinated their children without asking any questions, were never told vaccines come with a risk of injury and death. After their children were injured, NVIC’s co-founders felt strongly that parents should know prior to vaccination more about the risks and complications of diseases and vaccines prior to vaccination so that parents could make voluntary, educated vaccination decisions for their children.
Throughout NVIC’s existence over the past 36 years, government has continued to minimize vaccine risks and the numbers of people who are being harmed by vaccines.21 Today, the media often tells only one side of the vaccine story and the proponents of mandatory vaccination policies proclaim, “the science is done.”
Science is never done; it evolves. Look no further than the reports on vaccines published by the Institute of Medicine to understand the science is far from done.22 23 24 25 26 27 And even if such a concept were possible, it should not override one’s ability to say, “no thanks, that’s not for me,” to a medical procedure. Vaccines are pharmaceutical products that can cause injury or death. That is not opinion, it is fact.28 29 30 31 32 NVIC provides information on diseases and vaccines to empower consumers to research, be curious, ask questions and make educated decisions.
It likely took only a moment and a few keystrokes to suspend NVIC’s Pinterest account, but no matter what happens with our appeal, NVIC is not going away. We were an organized public resource long before the advent of personal computers, mobile devices, and web-based social media platforms. You can always find us at NVIC.org, NVICAdvocacy.org and TheVaccineReaction.org.
It only takes a few keystrokes by you to directly connect with NVIC. You can sign up to be a subscriber of our monthly NVIC Newsletter or The Vaccine Reaction weekly journal and become a registered user of the NVIC Advocacy Portal today. That is how you can stay connected to NVIC so we do not lose touch with each other.
You are why NVIC has been able to make a difference in raising awareness about vaccination, health and autonomy. Be strong and continue to have the courage to share your concerns with others so we can work together to preserve freedom of thought, speech, conscience and vaccine choice in America.
Many thanks for your continued support!
NVIC Executive Director
1 Barclay, L. Lie, D. Large Mumps Outbreak Characterized by 2-Dose Vaccine Failure. Medscape. Apr. 9, 2008.
2 CNN. More than 1,000 get mumps in New York, New Jersey since August. Feb. 8, 2010.
5 Wendelboe AM, Annelies VR et al. Duration of Immunity Against Pertussis After Natural Infection or Vaccination. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2005; 24(5): S58-S61.
6 Witt MA, Katz PH, Witt DJ. Unexpectedly Limited Durability of Immunity Following Acellular Pertussis Vaccination in Pre-Adolescents in A North American Outbreak. Clin Infect Dis 2012; 54(12): 1730-1735.
8 CDC. Adjusted effectiveness estimates for influenza seasons from 2004-2018. Sep. 6, 2018.
11 Cáceres, M. Harvard Medical School Doctor: Vaccine Science is Not Settled. The Vaccine Reaction. Aug. 18, 2018.
15 Byers RK, Moll FC Encephalopathies following prophylactic pertussis vaccine. Pediatrics.1948 Apr;1(4):437-57.
16 Kulenkampff M, Schwartzman JS, Wilson J Neurological complications of pertussis inoculation. Arch. Dis. Child. 1974, 49, 46
17 Miller DL, Ross EM et al. Pertussis immunization and serious acute neurological illness in children. British Medical Journal 1981; 282:1595-9.
19 Trebbe AL. Local TV Honors Its Own: Channels 4 and 7 Sweep the Emmys. Washington Post June 27,1983.
21 Fisher, BL. Williams, K. Wrangham T. NVIC Response to the Government Accounting Office request for NVIC’s perspective on the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP). Jul. 11, 2014.
22 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press. 1991
23 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality. Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 1994.
25 Institute of Medicine. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. Appendix D. Causality Conclusion Tables. Washington (DC): National Academies Press. 2012.
26 Institute of Medicine Committee on the Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule. The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence and Future Studies. Summary (p. 5-6). Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 2013. Summary of Scientific Findings. (pp. 129-130).
27 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Supports Three of Five Recommendations of New IOM Report on U.S. Childhood Immunization Schedule Safety and Calls for Transparency. BusinessWire Jan. 16, 2013.
29U.S. 42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-10. Establishment of Program. U.S. Government Publishing Office. 2016.
30 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press. 1991
31 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality. Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 1994.
32 Institute of Medicine. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality - Appendix D. Causality Conclusion Tables. Washington (DC): National Academies Press. 2012.
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