In the political arena, vaccinations have become one of the topics for discussion with the introduction of the school vaccine bill, SB 277. This bill ignores the religious and personal beliefs held by many people and flies straight in the face of our United States Constitution’s Religious Rights and our California State Constitution’s Equal Education Rights. The bill has good intentions on the surface, but has some major issues when it comes to forcing everyone to comply or be deprived of a classroom education and the possibility of being ostracized from society if they do not timely and fully vaccinate their children with ten different vaccines.
Now before you think I am against vaccinations, I have had all of my vaccines and was recently vaccinated against shingles along with my yearly flu shot. However, I have many friends of different faiths who do not believe in many of our public health policies, yet their children attend public schools and work in the healthcare industry.
After working at one of the largest health maintenance organizations in California for almost 30 years, I understand the need for vaccinations as a public protection policy from highly contagious diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
But there is more to public health than just measles and whooping cough. A Centers for Disease Control senior scientist’s recent revelations about deviation from scientific vaccine safety research protocols have raised serious concerns that African American males may have a greater risk of negative reactions to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, leading to autism. To make matters worse, these revelations have not been disclosed to the general public or the Black community.
The revelations bring to mind the Syphilis experiments of Tuskegee, Alabama. Named the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” the study started in the thirties and was projected to last six months, but went on for forty years. For forty years, our United States Government Public Health Service knowingly injected Black men with Syphilis and left them untreated, allowing them to spread the disease in the community. These men were told they were being treated for “bad blood” and were never given adequate treatment for their disease. Even when Penicillin became available to cure Syphilis, researchers withheld the treatment and instead allowed the men to die. The Tuskegee study ended only after a whistleblower revealed the experiment.
Tuskegee, and other negative experiences, are a part of the collective memory shared by African Americans in terms of our government’s discriminatory public policies. This collective experience and memory is helping fuel an outcry against SB 277 led by the Nation of Islam, after a news article appeared in the Black Press of California that gave both sides of the argument related to the bill which sparked questions.
Could you have ever imagined Minister Tony Muhammad of the Nation of Islam led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, speaking in public to a predominantly White audience who stood behind him cheering him on? Like I said, politics makes strange bedfellows.
This outcry by the Nation of Islam in Los Angeles has garnered the attention of other groups and Black Legislators are being singled out to ask questions before they vote so the community can be fully educated of the pros and cons of SB 277.
I think this is the right thing to do to ensure our lawmakers make an informed and intelligent decision before they vote. The citizens are paying attention.
Some are arguing that our babies’ bodies are being inundated with so many medicines all at once and at such an early age that it is raising concerns for many in the medical field. More and more parents are becoming concerned about their tiny babies receiving five or six shots during one doctor’s visit. Amid these concerns, SB 277 seeks to force strict compliance with the CDC’s vaccination schedule with no opportunity to delay or space out vaccines. And in light of the CDC scientist’s revelations, this might be one of the worst things we can do.
This is one of those bills that needs to be fully and honestly debated with all of the known medical research from all points of view so years from now we don’t regret the actions taken today.
If I am not mistaken, supporters are pushing this bill because of the recent measles outbreak that originated at Disneyland. This bill would not prevent that outbreak because Disneyland is visited by millions of people from other countries each year and just like when they have a cold or the flu, people do not stay home when they feel sick.
So while I believe in vaccinations, I try and get all of the facts before I allow a vaccine to be injected into my body. I do the same with any other medicine I take. I want to know the side effects. When you listen to some of the pharmaceutical advertising on television and hear the side effects, you think twice before you take the medicine. They say if after taking this medicine you can’t breathe or can’t stand up or your eyesight becomes blurred, call your doctor. How are you going to call your doctor when you can’t get air into your lungs? Vaccines are also medicines and parents need to be able to make their own informed decision about vaccines without having their children’s education held hostage, especially in light of the open question of safety raised by the CDC scientist.
So I say to the legislators, slow down, take a deep breath and take your time to pass mindful public policy that will allow all citizens’ rights to be preserved and protected. There is too much at stake if you make a mistake.