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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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Living Our Beliefs: Integrity and Vaccines

            In the last post, we explored our evolving consciousness and the herd mentality. In this one, we will delve further into the role of the media regarding the vaccine messaging we hear and we will look at our beliefs as parents of special needs children.
            All over the mainstream media, I hear the terms, doctors say… doctors believe… All over the media when doctors are asked the same questions about safety and efficacy they repeat the same mantra over and over, in every interview, on every channel. I can’t help but think of the old cigarette ads featuring doctors who said smoking was safe. 
The cigarette companies did their own research, which was later discovered to be flawed and misrepresented. Science and scientific studies can help us understand things, but when scientific studies are performed by people with profits riding on the outcome, society loses because the results of those studies cannot be trusted. Let us examine a finding that is not in dispute. Doctors say and studies show that vaccines are effective. They are counting on a misunderstanding of what they mean by effective. We assume it means that after our child is vaccinated they are immune from the disease. What it actually means is that an antibody has been created that may or may not prevent the child from getting sick from the disease. Effectiveness equals antibody, not prevention or 100% immunity. I won’t dispute the claim that 90% of people vaccinated will not get the measles if exposed to it and that 10% will get it. That sounds pretty effective. It’s a great thing! That is why many parents wish they could vaccinate their children safelyThe way an antibody is created in a child is through the use of heavy metals in the vaccines and I won’t go into it here, but you can find out by clicking here if you wish to know. The link provides interviews of doctors who believe that vaccines cause injuries to children. From the mainstream media, it is difficult to know that these doctors even exist, but they do. The interviews will give you more insight to why some parents refuse to vaccinate and what these doctors and researchers have discovered.
            As I said in the last post, we still don’t know who the first patient was that visited Disneyland with the measles. It could have been one of the people who received their shots and fall into the 10% that can still get the disease. Even so, there is a popular open letter being floated around that tugs at our heartstrings because it is a passionate letter, full of emotion, written by a father who happens to be a doctor whose little girl has leukemia. The letter is called, To the Parent of the Unvaccinated Child Who Exposed My Family to Measles.” Dr. Tim Jacks is the author of the letter. We feel so sorry for him and his family after reading his words and we become angry at the person for making the “bone headed move,” to quote his letter. There’s just one very significant problem… He does not know who exposed his children. That little piece of information is left out of his letter. I heard him admit it in an interview on The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart, on February 10, 2015. When asked specifically if the child who exposed his children was unvaccinated he replied, “I do not have any information about the patient that exposed my children.” He is assuming the person who exposed his children is unvaccinated, but acting as if it is fact. It is unclear whether the person he addresses in his letter is the person at the clinic where his children were exposed or the person at Disneyland but, either way, this is a big assumption based in hysteria, not fact.
            In his letter, he writes that his children were able to receive some vaccinations after their exposure to gain some temporary protection against getting the disease. He says of them getting the shots, “They screamed, but now they have some temporary protection against measles.” They screamed; as if the only reason parents refuse to vaccinate their children is because they want to avoid the screams of their children. I think there is a little bit more to it than that, Dr. Jacks, and belittling them is not doing a service to anyone, including your vulnerable children.
            Another thing that strikes me is that Mr. Diaz-Balart did not question Dr. Jacks’ assumption, but went right along with the interview and ignored that point. If you’re going to write a letter to someone, and give it a provocative title, you better have your facts straight. Furthermore, if you going to do a seemingly unbiased interview, you better be prepared to challenge inconsistencies as they arise. The parents opposed to vaccines are required to stick to the facts that can be proven, but we give passes to pro-vaccine parents. I feel horrible for Dr. Jacks and his family, as his daughter battles leukemia and now must worry about getting the measles on top of that. These horrible things do not give him license to ignore the facts or to make assumptions or to belittle another parent’s decision or liberty to make that decision. I read the letter he wrote and found many inconsistencies, in addition to the title, but I will not go into all of that here. He was understandably emotional when he wrote it and I will leave it at that. Here is the link so you can read it if you choose. 
            In another news clip on The Reid Report, on February 10, 2015, I heard Elizabeth Warren, at a Senate Committee meeting on childhood vaccinations, asking, “Is there any scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism?” An official from the CDC answers: “No.”
Elizabeth: “Is there any scientific evidence that vaccines cause profound mental disorders?” The answer: “No, but some of the diseases we vaccinate against can.”
        Exchanges like this serve to keep the fear of vaccinations from spreading throughout the herd and allow the fear of disease to motivate parents to vaccinate their children. I have discovered that words matter. The word that matters in the exchange above is the word cause. It is a simple little word full of much significance. It is the buzz word in the media, but there is another word you need to know about, but won’t ever hear spoken in interviews. That word is trigger. I will write more about this in the next post and show you how congress, the CDC and the FDA have acknowledged links between injuries and autism as well as other profound mental disorders. For now, I will tell you that if Elizabeth Warren had asked if there was evidence that a vaccine can trigger autism or profound mental disorders this would have been a very different conversation.
            Right after that segment there was a segment about parents in California who are thinking of throwing measles parties to expose their non-vaccinated children to the measles so they will become immune. That sounds crazy. It is crazy and it helps to spread fear by lumping healthy children advocates in with people who are more extreme. Now every parent who chooses not to vaccinate is painted with the crazy brush, even if they do not support such behavior. Dr. Alexander Van Tulleken, who was being interviewed about the measles parties, said of the communities that are not getting their vaccinations, “I think we are really failing to engage with them, we are failing to understand them, are failing to communicate with them properly.” It was clear he meant that they are failing to convince them that vaccines are safe and effective, but he hit the nail on the head when he said we are failing to understand these parents. Authorities understand healthy children advocates perfectly, but they are making it difficult for anyone to understand them by spreading fear through the use of the mainstream media.
What do we really believe about our abilities, as parents?
            Evidence of a child’s vaccine injury is easily disputed by folks who don’t have a love connection with that child but try telling that to the child’s mommy and daddy. As parents of children and adults with disabilities we tell each other that we are the experts on our children; that we know better than anyone about our kids. We advocate for each other with doctors because we understand that the doctor does not always know best for each individual case and that the doctor is looking at the disability in generalities. When we start to question our own judgment we, as parents of children with special needs, remind each other that we are the experts on our own children. Why not now? Why are we vilifying each other when it comes to vaccines? Lately, I have read many blogs and many forum comments of pro-vaccine parents of autistic children who have joined the herd in telling everyone that evidence should be ignored; that the claims of parents with vaccine injured children should be ignored; that vaccines don’t cause autism. Even the well-known organization Autism Speaks has started saying that vaccines don’t cause autism. There is that buzz word again: cause. It breaks my heart because these parents are doing the opposite of what they normally do. They are telling other parents they are wrong about their own children; the very thing we are trying to get doctors to stop doing! Our failure to listen to our fellow parents and to vilify them is a real problem. Once we start down that road, we can never be taken seriously by doctors or anyone else. We want doctors to listen to us, but we are failing to listen to and stand up for each other on this issue.

Our Precious Children
            Every child matters. We believe that. The vast majority of children get vaccinated without incident, but some children are harmed. These children matter. They should not be viewed as collateral damage. The notion of children being harmed by vaccines is under dispute, but maybe it is time to err on the side of caution, say… for the sake of every child, because every child matters.

And we believe that.

"As I have loved you, love one another." ~ Jesus

            No child is disposable, so let’s look back, once again, at how far we have come to those few brave voices that said people with disabilities are not damaged, and are not sinful, and are important, and have feelings, and that they matter just as much as everyone else. In the next post, I will examine why some parents are afraid to vaccinate their children. Maybe they know something we are afraid to look at. Maybe they are the siren we wish would go away so we won’t have to act, or be inconvenienced, or feel guilty for vaccinating our own children blindly and timidly. I get that. I once was a mother who would have vaccinated my child even if I had known the risk because I was too timid to stand up to a doctor with a medical degree. I might even have ignored that risk and vaccinated because I also know, as the healthy children advocates do, of the risks of not vaccinating. But why can’t we have it both ways? Why should we have to ignore the risks? What is wrong with getting safe vaccines and schedules? What is wrong with trying to figure out which children are at a higher risk of vaccine injury so that we can do something different for them? It will be expensive, but we must ask ourselves what we value more, money or our precious children? Expensive does not equal impossible.
            I commend the healthy children advocates for their bravery and willingness to stand up for their children in the face of all this controversy and name calling and belittling. Maybe they are the wake-up call we need just like the first brave people who changed the destinies of people with disabilities. We may disagree with their decision, but they don’t have a better option. Let’s help them get one for the benefit of every child. Striving for safety in vaccines and schedules is the right thing to do. It is the moral thing to do for the already injured children, their families, and for every child’s future because

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Books I recommend. I hope this blog helps you to create a more peaceful life. Keep in touch by the following methods: Use the links under the archive menu to subscribe or follow by e-mail. Help me get this message out by sharing it with your friends on social media! If you enjoyed it and were helped by it, they will, too! Comment by using the comment link below or write to me with your comments and questions at mindchange4all@gmail.com  I look forward to hearing from you!

Living Our Beliefs: Our Community and Vaccines

            America is polarized; dividing up into two groups, left and right, on almost every issue. We certainly are not living our beliefs when we act this way, although in many cases both sides think they are. However, there is one issue where people of all political views, ages, income levels, parents of children with special needs, parents of typical children, and both genders agree: Childhood vaccination. The reason I am writing about this now is to show how we flush our beliefs down the proverbial toilet when it comes to issues like this. Plus, I am frustrated that only one side is being told in the mainstream media.
            There is a meme being spread far and wide that vaccines are not harmful in any way, shape, or form and that it is irresponsible to refuse vaccination. Most of the people talking about it either do not know what they are talking about, or they are beholden to pharmaceutical companies in one way or another. Politicians, media companies, doctors, and researchers all rely on the fortune of the pharmaceutical companies and they all have a united message. Some of them may truly believe this message, but others know better. Very few people are challenging that message, so right now I am speaking for those whose voices are being drowned out in the media. Everyone has joined in to demonize parents who do not vaccinate their children. The entire burden of the current measles outbreak has been laid upon their shoulders, even though we still don’t know who started it. This is the most current information I could find. “The outbreak likely started from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles, then visited the amusement park while infectious. However, no source has been identified. Page updated 2/14/15.” Some are using this measles outbreak as a political tool to lay blame on immigrants and further their immigration agenda. "A traveler" could be an immunized American citizen, for all we know, but jumping to a conclusion is more politically motivating than the truth. 

"What is the truth? It is to make us know what is the gap between our aspirations and our current reality; to help us to see where we are not living up to our Christian and Democratic ideals." 
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

            We ignore facts when they don’t support our opinion and we blame other parents for the failures of a system we refuse to change. In this post and the next two, I will be writing about this issue, advocating for healthy children; specifically about integrity – on the part of individuals and the system – statistics, media and political bias on this issue, inconsistency in our beliefs and our actions, and I will explain the workings of the current system and compare its flaws with the rhetoric in the media. I have done my research, so get ready for a different view than the one you have been exposed to. But first, I want to take note of how the lives of people with disabilities have been transformed by people living their beliefs and begin to show you how the issue of vaccines can be transformed the same way.

Evolving Consciousness
            Throughout history, people with disabilities have had difficult lives. Many believed that people with intellectual disabilities were in that condition because they had sinned, or that they were in purgatory on earth as a punishment for sin. I recently read the life story of a black woman who died in 1955, named Henrietta Lacks. Her cancer cells are responsible for almost everything we know about cancer and for the better treatments we have today. They are called Hela cells and they are immortal. They live and multiply to this very day, decades after Henrietta’s passing. Henrietta and her family were never compensated for the contribution her cells made to cancer research, although others made fortunes from her cells. Compensation would have made a tremendous difference in their lives, but she died a poor black woman and was able to leave nothing to her children. You can read about Henrietta and her story in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. However, it is not Henrietta’s story I want to share now. It is her daughter’s story that shows how our collective consciousness once treated people with disabilities.  
            Elsa Lacks seemed to be intellectually disabled. Although never formally diagnosed, she never learned to speak or to use the toilet and she had seizures. When her mother, Henrietta, died of cervical cancer Elsa was sent away by the authorities. Her brothers and sisters never knew where she was taken after their mother’s death, but eventually, one of her sisters found out that Elsa had been sent to a notorious segregated mental hospital. She went to see if she could find Elsa’s records. She discovered that Elsa had been beaten and that her death was a result of repeatedly vomiting a material that resembled coffee grounds. The vomiting went on for six months prior to her death. The man reviewing the records with Elsa’s sister said that the coffee grounds like material was probably dried blood. Elsa was still a young girl when she died, in that segregated mental hospital, in 1955. There was a photo of Elsa in the file. She had horribly matted hair, her face was bruised, and she appeared to be screaming while a white hand aggressively held her tear-stained face towards the camera. Her sister also discovered that doctors in that hospital had performed illegal experiments on many seizure-prone patients, possibly including Elsa, in which the protective fluid around their brains was removed and replaced with air, in order to get better x-ray pictures of their brains. This experiment resulted in tremendous, on-going pain for those who endured it.
            This is the type of treatment people with disabilities faced in our not so distant past when there was no family willing or able to care for them.  Tragedies like this were once common because of judgment and ignorance, which always stems from fear of the unknown. Families used to hide people with intellectual disabilities out of site of the public, either because they were ashamed or for the protection of the individual. Little by little attitudes began to change and eventually Eunice Shriver came along and created Special Olympics so that people with intellectual disabilities could thrive out in the open. This brave and wonderful act by a compassionate woman made it possible for parents and siblings to embrace their family members with challenges and be proud of them. Slowly the stigma erodes.

           Look how far we have come, not only with people with disabilities but racially as well. Thankfully, we are waking up! We are facing our fears, realizing our false judgments, and taking the time to learn about things we don’t understand. All of our advancement is due to the evolution of human consciousness. At some point in time, someone had to realize what we were doing to people with disabilities. Someone began to see them as human beings with feelings. Not only that but they had to gain enough courage to stop going along with others who mistreated those with differences. Someone started to spread the word that it was not okay to treat people like that and others followed their lead. Whoever they were, I am immensely grateful and indebted to them for the seeds they planted in the collective mind. We are slowly reaping that harvest now. From these stories we see that divisions and ignorance can be healed, but we still have some distance to go. Attitudes and behaviors need to continue to change towards people with disabilities and towards the ways we protect all of our children.  

Protecting the Herd 
            The main message in the media regarding vaccines is that in order for the herd to be protected everyone has to be vaccinated. The more people that do not get vaccinated the higher the risk of disease for the herd. I find it funny that they actually use the word herd. It feels to me as if they are leading us like cattle to the vaccination corral and we refuse to see it. It feels like they want us to have a herd mentality. It is clear that they are spreading memes because they want the herd to believe certain things and to repeat those beliefs and get the rest of the herd to fall in line. Please excuse me if I feel that going along with the herd is not always such a good idea. The herd once believed all sorts of horrible things about people with disabilities. The herd went along with doctors who put people with intellectual disabilities in psychiatric hospitals and did horrible experiments on them. Various herds have murdered millions of people around the world in efforts of ethnic cleansing. The herd enslaved fellow human beings. I could go on and on, bringing up many other issues where the herd was dead wrong. We see it now, looking back. 
           The herd analogy plays into our lifelong insecurities of wanting to be part of a group. No one wants to be outside of the group. Outsiders are shunned, made fun of, bullied; much like what is happening to the anti-vaccine parents now. Watching this play out in the news and on talk shows, it reminds me of watching episodes of Mad Men. I am beginning to wonder if Big Pharma has actually hired an ad agency to strategically place their memes into the newscasts and talk shows. Every message is exactly the same. None of the interviews are any different from show to show. And none of them ever mention vaccine injury, at least not any that I have seen. They all ask if vaccines cause autism and the answer is always a resounding NO. We will see later how, while not dishonest, it is not exactly accurate, either. 
        Refusing to go along with the herd does not make someone anti-vaccine, or irresponsible, or crazy. As we have seen, going along with the herd can sometimes be the most irresponsible thing we can do. The main thing I want people to understand is that we need to get to the truth, in order to get safer vaccines and safer vaccine schedules for our children. That conversation cannot happen when the airwaves are flooded by one message to create hysteria among the masses. Pharmaceutical companies, along with the media companies that receive ad revenues from them, and doctors who give vaccinations to our children profit from the current system. If more and more people stop vaccinating, they all lose profits. Some would love to have the religious and philosophical exemptions repealed so that every child has to get the vaccines on their timeline to ensure the money flow never stops. They would love to have us believe that taking away each parent’s liberty is a good idea for the herd. What does that say about our beliefs about liberty for all? They would love for the conversation to remain exactly as it has for the past several weeks, months, and years so that nothing in the system will change. Without change, they won’t have to spend more money on the system than they already do, ensuring profits remain the same. Furthermore, without proof of vaccine injury they can avoid being sued for those injuries. This system is perfect for them, but not for us. Rather than change it, they want us to demonize the healthy children advocates by calling them anti-vaxxers. 
          There is a term the military uses: collateral damage. It refers to the unavoidable killing of civilians in war. There are people who would have you believe that collateral damage is an acceptable part of keeping most of our population free of disease. We have to decide for ourselves if we believe that, but first, we should explore whether we need to believe it. Healthy children advocates feel it is not necessary to believe it. They believe the system can be changed to protect all of our children; from disease and from vaccine injury. We all believe in right and wrong. We all believe that our actions have consequences. Are we willing to stand up for those beliefs? Are we willing to do everything in our power to protect our children from collateral damage? 
           In the next two posts, we will explore the claims of the healthy children advocates and ways to bring integrity to our communications, to the media, and to the system, raising the collective consciousness once again.
A link to my next post: Vaccines Part 2
More informative links:   
Parents Voice 
Vaccine Fact Summary
Dissolving Illusions (Disease elimination chart)
Thinking Moms Revolution
MIT Scientist Exposes Monsanto and Aluminum Cocktail

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