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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Living Our Beliefs: The Vaccine System

         Last time we explored the media's coverage of the measles outbreak and we asked ourselves some tough questions about our support of each other as parents, as well as what our top values are regarding our children. Now, we will look just a bit more at the media and we will learn some facts about vaccinations and how the current system works. 
         Recently the big scare story in the media was Ebola. Just a few short months ago the media told endless stories of people dying from the resulting illness from Ebola exposure. We were told how easy it is to get it; how contagious it is if we are exposed and how rapidly it can spread. We saw images of doctors and volunteers who had been diagnosed with it in other countries coming into American with full protective gear and being quarantined until they recovered. We were told about the man who died from it here in America and how his family needed to be quarantined until there was no longer a threat. Speculation was rampant about his possible actions when he arrived in America and he was skewered for those speculations as if they were true. We were told how outrageous it was when a woman who may have been exposed to it broke her quarantine early. Americans were outraged at her irresponsibility. Americans were becoming anxious with constant stories about how hospitals were handling possible Ebola patients. Fear was spreading through our country. Maybe a little too much fear was spreading because suddenly the messages began to change. Suddenly a new perspective began to emerge. Doctors began to talk about how it’s not quite as easy to catch it as they once claimed. The family of the man who died never came down with Ebola and neither did anyone who came in contact with the woman who broke her quarantine, nor anyone who had taken care of those quarantined with the disease. The mass hysteria was suddenly averted by the same entities that created it: the authorities working with the media. Now we are told that measles is much more contagious than Ebola; that we really need to be diligent about this disease; that it is much less likely to kill you than Ebola if you get it, but if your children are exposed, horror awaits! I can’t help but compare this with the recent Ebola coverage, however. 
      Doctors and researchers ignore parents who best know their children by claiming that evidence of the injury cannot be proven, except that it can and it has. The mainstream media does not acknowledge this. And one would think the media would question why congress created the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) in 1986 and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) in 1988 if vaccines do not harm our children. Could it be that they were created to keep parents from suing pharmaceutical companies when a vaccine injury occurs? Parents must go through this process before they can bring suit against a manufacturer, but once an injury is determined, they are compensated by money in the NVICP, which is collected from a 75 cent fee on every vaccine given. It is a fee you and I pay to keep the manufacturers from having to pay when a child is injured. I wonder why doctors never mention these two significant subjects when asked about vaccine safety. These are questions I want you to begin to ask because I do not have a dog in this fight, so to speak. My son is 26 years old and has had every vaccination recommended when he was young. He is my only child and I will never be a grandmother, so this is about your children and your grandchildren. Let’s look at some facts.
            According to Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, Director of Medical Research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Hannah Poling is a child who was injured by vaccines and now has a life-long disability. Hannah Poling’s vaccine injury claim was quietly conceded by medical experts at The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and she was awarded substantial compensation via the NVICP, but you won’t hear about Hannah or any other injured children in the news reports. You can read the views of four doctors who believe vaccines can trigger autism here. These doctors are different from the ones I told you about in the last post and this link shows the relevance of the words doctors and researchers use when speaking about vaccine safety. Cause vs. trigger is the key distinction, but when your child’s autism has been shown to be triggered by a vaccine, it is a distinction of little significance. Click here to learn about how Hannah’s story was spun in the media.

The Integrity of the System
             Let us now refer back to the fact that we question the validity of evidence of injury. The system itself is flawed and the powers-that-be rely on our ignorance of how it works to continue the barrage of rhetorical memes. I was shocked to discover how it works as I did research for this post. What I found on the Center for Disease Control’s  website is that issues with vaccines are reported through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which was established in 1990. It is set up as an observation system to look for evidence of adverse events from vaccines. When that evidence pops up they fall back on the claim that causation cannot be proven merely by observation. It cannot, but that is exactly what they are relying on. 
            I copied and pasted the following from the CDC’s website. Here is the link  

 “VAERS receives around 30,000 reports annually, with 13% classified as serious (e.g., associated with disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness or death) (CDC VAERS Master Search Tool, April 2, 2008). Since 1990, VAERS has received over 200,000 reports, most of which describe mild side effects such as fever. Very rarely, people experience serious adverse events following immunization. By monitoring such events, VAERS helps to identify any important new safety concerns and thereby assists in ensuring that the benefits of vaccines continue to be far greater than the risks. Many different types of adverse events occur after vaccination. About 85-90% of the reports describe mild adverse events such as fever, local reactions, and episodes of crying or mild irritability. The remaining reports reflect serious adverse events involving life-threatening conditions, hospitalization, permanent disability, or death, which may or may not have been caused by a vaccine.”

        13% of the 30,000 cases annually reported equates to 3900 people that authorities acknowledge may have become permanently disabled, hospitalized, received a life-threatening condition, or died from vaccination, annually. There’s your safety statistic right off of their website. These children matter. They should not be viewed as collateral damage. Their website also says  (copied and pasted with highlights added by me):
"VAERS data contains coincidental events and those truly caused by vaccines.

When reviewing data from VAERS, please keep in mind the following limitations: VAERS is a passive reporting system, meaning that reports about adverse events are not automatically collected, but require a report to be filed to VAERS. VAERS reports can be submitted voluntarily by anyone, including healthcare providers, patients, or family members. Reports vary in quality and completeness. They often lack details and sometimes can have information that contains errors. "Underreporting" is one of the main limitations of passive surveillance systems, including VAERS. The term, underreporting refers to the fact that VAERS receives reports for only a small fraction of actual adverse events. The degree of underreporting varies widely. As an example, a great many of the millions of vaccinations administered each year by injection cause soreness, but relatively few of these episodes lead to a VAERS report. Physicians and patients understand that minor side effects of vaccinations often include this kind of discomfort, as well as low fevers.  On the other hand, more serious and unexpected medical events are probably more likely to be reported than minor ones, especially when they occur soon after vaccination, even if they may be coincidental and related to other causes. A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described.  It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after a vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine."

           Sometimes science, or the lack thereof, can cause us to ignore common sense. It begs the question: Do they want a system that can prove injury, or are they happy with one that cannot prove injury? What do we want as parents? The system is relying on passive surveillance meanwhile those in the media are calling parents crazy and hysterical when they claim their child was injured by vaccines. When we act or fail to act out of fear, no progress is made, no solutions are created, and no justice is served. By demonizing these parents we are adding to the problem. By asking for their liberty to be removed we are setting ourselves up for our liberties to be removed in the future. Instead, we could try to understand why they choose not to vaccinate and we could support them even if we disagree. Doing more blind studies by people who do not rely financially on the outcome can help every child in the future, no matter what the studies show. At the very least it can alleviate the fears. Many of these parents would vaccinate their children now by simply doing it on a safer schedule. However, the system is set up in such a way that this is impossible for many people.

       We must all vaccinate our children on a certain schedule in order for them to enter public education or day care. If we don’t want to go by this schedule we must obtain a religious or philosophical exemption, which then makes it impossible to vaccinate at all, or we must home-school our children. These are the only options we have. Why can’t we change that? I don’t claim to know why our politicians won’t get involved with changing it. It could be that they rely on campaign funding from pharmaceutical companies that profit from the current rigid schedule. Or maybe it is simply because we, their constituents, don’t challenge it. We accept every new vaccine whether it is for a life threatening disease or for less serious diseases like the chicken pox, and we accept the schedule they have set, without researching the effects on our children. We may not like it. We may think to ourselves, oh geez, not another one, but we go along with it, because it seems to be a relatively small chance that our child will be the one injured, right? Maybe it is time to stop spinning the Roulette wheel and remember that every child matters.

“The most recent measure of autism prevalence in the US is 1/68. Since 4 million children are born in the US each year, 58 thousand will develop autism. We are frightened by the 100 people infected with measles, but ignore the 58 thousand children who develop autism each year.”
~ Unknown commenter in a forum about vaccine safety

Pick a card, any card. Now remember your card.
            Every day, as we enter our communities, we run the risk of being exposed to other people’s illnesses and personal choices, large and small; the lawful carry of concealed guns, the use of profanity, hate speech, people walking around with their pants hanging off their butts, criminal behavior, and even terrorism, to name a few. Parents of children with special needs are exposed to stares and insults from bystanders. It sucks, but it is part of living in a free society. When it comes to our own preferences, our liberties are important to us, but the next guy’s liberties seem to be expendable when we disagree. That’s not in line with living our beliefs. Our collective consciousness agrees on the issue of liberty for all and our personal consciousness is integral to liberty for all.
            I am not telling you which cards to choose. That is completely up to you. What I am saying is, once you have chosen your cards, remember them and stay consistent with them because if you can’t, maybe it’s time to trade in some of them. This applies to everything we believe politically, as well. We must consider if our views are consistent within each issue and whether they are consistent with our spiritual beliefs. Many times we follow the herd of our chosen parties and our religions, going along with them willy-nilly. We let our egos guide us on too many matters. We get invested in our own fears and opinions just as we did with the events last year of black men being killed by the police, Ebola, even the Brian Williams controversy. We will skewer the opposition or the latest celebrity that messes up. Even after all he has done for veterans, Americans, including me, skewered news anchor Brian Williams for embellishing a story about his time covering the Iraq War. After that, for about a minute we will question the integrity of our news and then we will go right back to the sand hill and bury our heads once again. We will not dare to question the safety of vaccines even when the parents of injured children try to warn us. Instead, we try to silence the messengers, or at the very least drown them out of the conversation with things that do not matter except to our egos.
            It is time Americans started picking our battles with integrity. It is time we bring some personal integrity to our opinions about many, many subjects. Vaccine safety; the safety of every child, because every child matters; the innate knowing of every parent regarding their own children, our support of those parents; integrity and non-bias in the media; integrity in politics; all these things are vital to our ever-evolving consciousness. We create the kind of world we want our children to grow up in. Let’s make our ancestors proud by continuing the legacy they began when they stood up for people with disabilities. Let’s make an effort to stop vaccine injuries for the continuing evolution of our consciousness.
            Thank you for joining me on this journey. For more information here are some more links:
Vaccines Part 1             Vaccines Part 2     
Parents Voice

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