Tuesday, October 04, 2005

We truly are a vaccine nation

Where to start? I think first, with a deep breath. Or two…or three…

I just spent a week participating in a workshop with Lynne Twist, probably the most effective individual donor fundraising in the world today and, a woman who is the embodiment of integrity. I learned more about myself in her workshop than I even knew I needed to learn!

One of the principles Lynne helped me recognize was the difference between taking a position on an issue, and taking a stand for an issue. I have long struggled with my film Vaccine Nation because although, for my own family, I hold a strong position (I will not allow myself or my son to be vaccinated), that position is not what I want to communicate in my film. I believe that all parents should make every decision about their children’s health for themselves – and, most importantly, that every decision must be a well-informed decision.

With the guidance of Lynne Twist, I was finally able to articulate what I stand for, as distinct from and able to exist alongside, my own position on vaccinations.

In a phrase, I stand for living in the Socratic tradition of asking questions of systems that individuals and societies take for granted. A high-falootin’ way to say, I believe that people have the right to question authority.

So this article from my favourite source of medical mayhem actually had the effect of causing me to hold my breath for so long I now feel dizzy and faint.

Here’s the headline:
Pediatricians Would Give Vaccine-Averse Parents the Boot

And one of the opening paragraphs:

In a survey of 302 pediatricians who provide routine vaccinations in a primary care setting, 39% said they would dismiss from their care families who refused all vaccinations, and 28% said they would terminate their relationship with a family who refused select vaccinations.
The author of this “Teaching Brief” goes on to advise,

Physician concerns about liability should be addressed by good documentation of the discussion of the benefits of immunization and the risks associated with remaining unimmunized.

That one sentence captures exactly why I quit my full-time job four years and have invested thousands of hours researching, writing and seeking funding to make the film Vaccine Nation.

What about telling the parents of that perfect 2-month old they're holding in their arms that there are risks associated with the vaccine? What arrogance to think that because doctors are in a position that society has given power to, that they have the right to selectively share information with patients and with parents of infants, who would not be patients were the vaccine culture not so embedded in North American society? They get those first shots at their "Healthy Baby Check-up!"

I actually feel nauseous. In fact, I can’t stop weeping. This is so troubling.

The problem is, we parents believe in our doctors without questioning them. By the millions we march our healthy infants, and toddlers, and 5-year olds, and teenagers into the doctors’ offices for shots that have never actually been proven to prevent disease. For shots that have caused so many children to suffer disabilities, and even die, that the vaccine-makers do not stand behind the safety of their own vaccines.

In 1986, the Institute of Medicine acknowledged that childhood vaccines can cause brain and immune system dysfunction. In response, and because the vaccine manufacturers refused to acknowledge the potential harm (they refused to engage in lawsuits), Congress established the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. They also established a fund to pay off vaccine-victims and their families. To date, despite the burden of proving a causal link between a vaccine and an adverse vaccine event, almost $656 million has been paid out to American families who have suffered a vaccine-induced injury.

Check the stats here, at the US Department of Health and Human Services website. (And if you ever wondered what the monetary value of your infant is in the United States, here’s your answer: "Awards for death cases are capped at $250,000 plus attorneys' fees/costs.")

So, once you’ve taken a look at the facts, please write to tell me where you stand. If you stand with me, if you believe that parents need to be given the respect to be trusted to make informed health decisions on their children’s behalf, then join me in the work that I have committed to do.

To change the current system we need stories. Share yours. Connect me to people who have stories. Doctors who don't force vaccinate. Parents who have taken a stand against the system. Children who have refused the hep b vaccine. Stories of courage and questioning.

We need money - $250,000 to make a film that will expose the truths that have been hidden about vaccines and the so-called, vaccine-preventable-diseases. (It’s not that much…just the cost of one vaccine-preventable death.) If the annual flu shot is provided by your workplace, whether you have the shot or not, I encourage you to take up a donation for this film, when the nurses and needles are in your office. If just a couple of hundred people took this initiative, we would have funding to get started by Christmas.

And I need moral support. Since my son was born nine year ago I have fought for my right to refuse vaccinations so many times I sometimes find myself tired of the fight. But I love my son so deeply, and the children he plays with, and the kids he’ll one day meet in college and all the people who will never even directly touch his life, that I continue to stand for what I believe in: truly informed consent. Even when it means I take punches for my stand. Knowing that others are with me, hoping for the same thing I am, is sometimes just what I need to hear to keep my faith that change can be made and will come.

I am grateful for all the blessings I have received and that I have the tools to write this blog today.


Blogger Alisa said...

O.k. - Here's my story. I have three kids. My 12 year old was vaccinated, because I was young, a single parent and didn't know any better. I did refuse the Hep B and Chicken Pox for a while, but I finally gave in on Hep B for Kindergarten and CP for 6th grade. 'They' said I HAD to.

Now I am married with two more kids. My 5 year old daughter is up-to-date, but is coming due soon, I think, for another. My Mikey will be 2 in November and I am already getting postcard remminders in the mail from our PC.

Here lies my dilemma; my husband thinks I am over reacting by saying no to all of them, or at least he did in the hospital with the HepB when Hanna was born. It's hard to hold your ground against your spouse. I want to switch from a Primary Care doc to a Naturopath / Homeopath Provider. I wonder where they stand? I also need to find out how to get a vaccine exemption filled out, by whomever and get it to school before my Kindergartener is due again. I stand with you Donna. Tell me what you need me to do. Thanks for the info you provide.

- Alisa

October 05, 2005  
Blogger Donna said...

Thank you Alisa. You raise a really important point - how to address differences in opinion within one family. My brother has strong feelings about vaccinations due to reactions he had to vaccines while traveling internationally. His wife is the daughter of a public health nurse, and was firmly on the side of following the gov't recommended vaccine schedule, starting with the hep b vaccine at birth then the first DPT when their son turned 2 months old.

They discussed it. I shared what info I could with them. And they decided to skip the hep b at birth but let my nephew have the DPT at 2 months. For 2 days following the shot he screamed, had a fever and was wouldn't nurse. My sister-in-law, despite her original position, knew that this was not a healthy reaction. I believe they're waiting until my nephew is a year old before they consider vaccinating again. That's when they'll talk about it again.

It's hard. There is not "right" answer. There are risks involved no matter which path you choose - vaccinating or not vaccinating or selectively vaccinating. The social marketing campaigns that have been supporting the vaccination culture are very powerful - many go so far as to actually say, "if you really love your child you will vaccinate on-time, every time." It's hard to challenge this ingrained belief, even just to pose the question, "is it really necessary?"

Your story and dilemma confirm that the people I'm making this film for, and writing a book for, are couples like you and your husband. In my opinion, no parent should be forced into making a health-care decision for their child that does not feel right. You and your husband should be honoured with the time you need to come to agreement on how to approach your kids' health. No doctor, teacher, or gov't representative has the right to interfere with and arrest the discussions you need to have to have to come to agreement with your spouse.

It will take time to have those discussions. You'll both have to commit to doing some research to find the facts you need to support what your gut and heart and telling you.

The recommended schedule for vaccinations is not a magic schedule. It varies by state and by country - vastly. Maybe you could ask your husband to agree to delaying your younger son's shots until you can do some research on the risks of the vaccinations and the diseases in question...

And if there's any research I can help direct you to, by all means, let me know. I have thousands of files related to all of the childhood vaccinations!

October 05, 2005  
Blogger orly said...

orly said ....
i have two kids my older one is 4 years and i stopped vaccinating him when he was a year old because pepole start asking me questions about me vaccinating my child , so i started reading i bought books videos etc...
and discovered another very dark side to vaccines.
now i have a second child a one year old girl which i choose not to vaccinate at all.
in the four years that i have my kids i didn't go to see a doctor for any of them accept for routine checks.my kids are healthy and their immune system will be stronger even more without the vaccines ,
vaccines are not an immune to you body. i think you are doing a great thing i sopport you all the way ( i always said if i win the lottery i will devote my life to this i will stand in the street with a microphone and tell everyone about the dark side of vaccines )nex year i'm moving back to my country israel and i dont know what is the law redarding vaccinations.
so good luck to you .
orly hockman grinberg
new york city

October 08, 2005  
Blogger donna said...

Hi, I would love to know more about your film. I quit my lucrative consulting career and went to film school after my son was diagnosed with autism. I think a good film expose is what we need to finally take the blinders off of the scientific and medical community.

July 22, 2007  

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