My letter to the Editor of a local community paper, The Sneak Preview
Vaccines are Important to Society
Matt Hegarty’s News Brief, “Is there a Censorship Vaccination?,” undeservedly chastised those critical of the screening of Vaxxed in Ashland as “resorting to censorship.” A theater is entitled to choose to screen a film – or not – and critics are entitled to express their indignation. That’s not censorship; that’s how freedom of speech works (although I understand it can press buttons and backfire).
And I disagree that Vaxxed critics are making “much ado about nothing” as mostly only anti-vaccinationists would see it anyway. It’s natural for any parent to feel worried about injecting their healthy children with medicinals. An emotive, deceptive propaganda film promoted as a fact-based documentary purportedly exposing vaccine safety system corruption may hook even fully vaccinating parents, as well as new parents and those on the fence about vaccines.
Vaccine fear has a way of going viral and persevering. Wakefield (the film’s director) is notorious for instigating years of devastating disease outbreaks in the UK and beyond after his 1998 “study” suggested an MMR vaccine-autism link, causing unnecessary suffering, hospitalizations, disabilities, deaths, and expense.
Despite Wakefield’s losing his medical license in 2010 based on more than two dozen counts proving misconduct and ethics violations (including child abuse), and despite Lancet retracting his study for falsifications, and despite twenty-plus years of solid research leading to a worldwide scientific consensus that vaccinations are not linked to autism, still, 33% of parents of minors and 29% of adults overall believe vaccines can cause autism (per a recent survey).
Even before Vaxxed, Ashland’s clustering of vaccination refusals and delays were straining community-immunity. Not just the children of the refusers/delayers are at risk when that happens but also those with medical contraindications to vaccines, too young or not yet fully vaccinated, missing vaccinations for other reasons, elderly, immune-deficient, and a percentage of vaccinated people (no vaccination is completely protective).
Many of those accused of “resorting to censorship” and making “much ado about nothing” over the screening of Vaxxed will be on the front lines of these outbreaks trying to contain them, treat patients, and save lives.