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Vaccine skeptics fight against Washington Bill to end personal exceptions – Slog

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<p><span class= Arlo goes to Waldorf School. MilosBataveljic / Getty Images

In the midst of a measles outbreak that extends from Portland to King County, lawmakers in Washington have passed a law providing personal exceptions to vaccines Otherwise, day care centers and public and private schools have to be visited, a Bill introduced by Paul Harris of Clark County, where at least 35 people, almost all of whom were unvaccinated, have been diagnosed with measles Vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella.

Currently, parents can refuse their children for receiving these vaccines on religious or philosophical grounds, and the number of people requesting these exemptions has been increasing for years. For example, in Clark County, the coverage rate for kindergarten teachers rose from 91

.4 percent in 2005 to 76.5 percent in 2018.

The demographic evolution of those applying for these exemptions has also changed. In the past, vaccines were something that a small number of religious groups rejected. Today, however, almost no religions reject vaccines. Instead, the objections often come from secular people who have seen anti-Vax skepticism either in pop culture (for example Dr. Oz ) or online.

Highly liberal communities such as Vashon Island and Waldorf For example, schools often have lower vaccination rates than the state average. For example, at a Waldorf school in the famously progressive city of Asheville, North Carolina, nearly 70 percent of parents refuse to vaccinate their children and nearly a quarter of schoolchildren contracted chickenpox last year, a completely preventable disease.

According to physicians and public health experts, the science behind vaccines has long been regulated: vaccines are one of the safest methods of preventing infectious diseases and have significantly lowered mortality rates worldwide. Nevertheless, many people are not convinced. Larry Cook, for example, a self-described "natural life advocate," runs the website StopMandatoryVaccination.com, which publishes heartbreaking, though unconfirmed, stories about children being injured or even killed by vaccines.

Cook lives in California, a state that ended his personal exemptions in 2015, but is involved in the fight for vaccine exemptions in Washington state. This week, he launched a $ 6,000 fundraising campaign to buy Facebook advertising designed specifically for women in Washington state.

"The goal is to help parents question the safety and efficacy of vaccines, which in turn helps them to understand why vaccine mandates could be problematic for their children," the fundraiser's website said. "We want these parents on the fence to become ACTIVISTS in Washington State." Almost one-half of the donation collection was already reached after one day.

Cook, who says he was born in Washington, has said allies in the area. Bernadette Pajer, head of Informed Choice Washington and mother of a 15-year-old son she claims to be suffering from a "vaccine accident," has devoted much of her life to combating compulsory vaccination in recent years. Vaccines, she believes, are being pushed by pharmaceutical companies to make money. "I know vaccines should protect children from infections, but they're pharmaceuticals made by the same companies that make opioids," she said in a phone call.

In response to the bill, Pajer sent an e-mail to lawmakers, the Department of Health, and the media regarding the dangers of vaccines and how the media mistakenly reported on this latest measles outbreak.

"These measles cases, most of which have since fully recovered, are used to scare the public that she and her children are in danger of being publicly exposed to an infection that is benign to the vast majority of Americans is. "Is the letter. As evidence, she cites Physicians for Informed Consent, an advocacy organization that has "deep connections to pseudoscience", according to Kathy Hennessey, the mother of an autistic child and head of Vaccinate Washington.

Being benign is worrying, "says Hennessey. And medical experts argue that while it is true that most people who undergo measles will not have any complications, one in every 20 children suffering from measles will, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) One of 1,000 children develops encephalitis, a swelling of the brain that can lead to permanent brain damage. Two out of 1,000 children who get measles will die from it.

However, Pajer does not trust the CDC. In her letter, she quotes "CDC Whistleblower" William Thompson, a scientist featured in the Slickly-2016 film Vaxxed: From the Cover-Up to Disaster . The film shows happy, healthy children who became ill or disabled after vaccinations, sometimes overnight.

During the filming of the film, the alleged whistleblower did not realize he was whistling the pipe. Rather, Thompson was unknowingly recorded by anti-Vax advocate Bryan Hooker while discussing the data left out in a 2004 CDC study on vaccines and autism. It seems to be a smoking weapon, but Thompson himself has rejected the film and its conclusions.

"I want to be absolutely clear that I believe that vaccines have saved countless lives and continue to save," he said. "I would never suggest that parents avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious illnesses and the risks associated with their administration are far outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

Nonetheless, anti-Vax advocates routinely refer to Thompson as evidence of some sort of CDC conspiracy. Pajer also argues that some children are "vulnerable to vaccinations". This, she told me, "is established as a fact."

However not, says Douglas Diekema, professor of pediatrics and bioethics at the University of Washington's School of Medicine and doctor at the Seattle Children's Emergency Department. "We know you should not get a second if you have an allergic reaction to the first vaccine," he said. Even so, there is no credible evidence that an allergic reaction to a vaccine causes autism, although hundreds of studies are looking for a link. The only blockbuster paper in which Andrew Wakefield claimed a causal link was so full of methodological flaws that it was later withdrawn and no one could understand it.

"Researchers from several countries have published studies with tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of children, and there's nothing," says Diekema. "And these are not people who get paid by pharmaceutical companies. As a pediatrician, I am very upset about the idea that my colleagues and I would be involved in this conspiracy. "

Diekema often sees vaccine skeptics working at Seattle Children's. Parents bring a child with a dirty cut in and are worried that the tetanus shot will lead to autism or other "vaccine injury". In this case, Diekema describes what tetanus – a previously incurable disease that can lead to death – could do to their children. This is usually – but not always – an effective way to communicate with parents. And research supports this: According to a 2015 study, the opinion of experts on contagious diseases is simply expressed differently. However, when you describe what causes the disease and show you photos of children with measles, people are more likely to be moved.

The reality is, though vaccines do not cause autism, we do not know exactly what they are doing. Diekema says there is evidence that there is a genetic component, but the research is not final. We do not even know if the autism rate has gone up. As many vaccine skeptics have claimed, there may be more children in the autism spectrum than in the past decades, but it is also possible that doctors can better diagnose this.

Regarding the legislature's proposal to end all vaccine exemptions, Diekema says he has mixed feelings. When it comes to measles, he says, yes, no question. The disease is so contagious that all personal exceptions should end. "If a measles child goes to class, you'll suddenly see a dozen cases." However, the lifting of the personal derogation could also lead to a backlash.

"I'm worried that if you reject this exemption for parents who strictly oppose it, you could inflame the church and then find yourself in an even worse position," he says. "But at least we should make it more difficult to get these exceptions." At present, it is sufficient to get an exception if you consult a doctor who will inform you about the risks and give you a note. Diekema says this should instead be an annual requirement. "It should not be easier to dissuade vaccines from the vaccine."

If the legislation enforces this bill, the vaccination rates are likely to be higher, as in California, since the state has ended its personal exemptions. However, this will hardly convince Bernadette Pajer or her allies. As we have seen over and over again from fighting to climate change to GMOs to vaccines, data rarely, if ever, is enough to influence people whose minds are already established.

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