By Scott St. Clair | The Save Jersey Blog
This is PART ELEVEN of a multi-part series on an important topic, Save Jerseyans.
Click here for Part One (You’re Kidding, Right?), here for Part Two (Snake Oil and Politics), here for Part Three (Vaccinations or Communicable Diseases), here for Part Four (Herd Immunity and Unvaccinated), here for Part Five (Who are the Anti-Vaxxers?), here for Part Six (Free Choice-Based Anti-Vaxxer Opposition), here for Part Seven (Diseases Are Safe; It’s Vaccines that Kill You), here for Part Eight (Anti-Vax Physicians or Dangerous Quacks?), here for Part Nine (When the Anti-Vaxxer Fist Strikes Your Nose), and here for Part Ten (When Worlds Collide: Those Who Can’t Versus Those Who Won’t) if you missed’em…
Pushback Against Anti-Vaxxer Opposition
The anti-vaxxer point of view isn’t popular with the general public. Per the Pew survey, 68 percent of U.S. adults say childhood vaccinations should be required versus 30 percent who say parents should decide. While a trend toward parental-option had been getting traction, public irritation spawned by the Disneyland outbreak is growing and morphing into open hostility.
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel skewered anti-vaxxers in a segment featuring actual physicians, as opposed to imitations or frauds like Bob Sears or Andrew Wakefield, who had a few choice words for anti-vaxxer parents:
Off course, anti-vaxxers became unglued and lashed out at Kimmel in ways that were vicious, profane and threatening. His response was another video mocking them. When something is targeted by the late-night guys, you know it’s in the crosshairs of most of America.
The Disneyland outbreak has sparked a move in many states to restrict exemptions. States that allow them based on philosophical objections are looking at clamping down on that easy pass. And some that have tighter exemption standards are looking to make them tighter still, New Jersey among them.
Had the outbreak continued to spread the city of Berkeley, Calif. was preparing to impose a 21-day quarantine of all unvaccinated persons.
Many so-called “religious exemptions” stem not from deeply held tenets of a faith, but rather from a desire to live a natural, organic life. But as we’ve seen, clean living, fresh fruits and vegetables and unreconstructed hippie-think a few miles from Haight-Ashbury don’t provide protection against communicable diseases.
New Jersey has some of the tightest immunization requirements in the U.S., resulting in the state having the 11th highest immunization rate in the country in 2013-2014. It allows exemptions only for a legitimate medical reason or where vaccination “interferes with the free exercise of (a) pupil’s religious rights.” Still, nearly 9,000 New Jersey school children remained unvaccinated in 2013 since all a parent need do to get a religious exemption is claim that the request is religiously based. Local officials aren’t permitted to question the bona fides of the claim – they’re obliged to accept it as is, no questions asked.
But that may soon be on the wane. A New Jersey Senate committee passed onto the full body a bill tightening the religious exemption and requiring anyone who claims it produce evidence that they’ve been counseled by a physician on the dangers of remaining unvaccinated.
Still, in New Jersey, if you allow your children to remain unvaccinated, you may have trouble finding a doctor. South River family practitioner Dr. Linda Girgis was recently quoted as saying, “I will not accept a child in my practice if they do not vaccinate. Measles kills one or two out of every 1,000 persons who become ill with it in the US. No child will die from a vaccine-preventable disease on my watch.”
Doctors, particularly pediatricians, overwhelmingly favor vaccinations by a ratio of better than nine to one, with 75 percent of them saying that children who are unvaccinated without a medical reason shouldn’t be allowed to attend public schools. And they’re increasingly speaking out in favor of vaccinations and against the anti-vaxxer movement and its underlying rationale, with some, like South River’s Dr. Girgis, refusing to treat families who themselves refuse to have their kids vaccinated.
Editorial opinion favoring vaccination and critical of anti-vaxxers crosses the ideological divide. The left-leaning Los Angeles Times and conservative National Review Online both debunk anti-vaxxer mythology. The neo-con Washington Free Beacon calls anti-vaxxers “crackpots” who promote “pseudo-science,” while Fox News’ popular Megyn Kelly recently tore into them, denouncing them as responsible for the current measles outbreak. She proudly proclaimed that her three under-school-age children were all vaccinated: “We did it as the doctor prescribed:”
Across the country, resentment against anti-vaxxers is growing. One Nebraska grocery store manager resents anti-vaxxer sentiment being shoved down everybody else’s throats:
Before, I thought, ‘If you think your child will become autistic, fine.’ But now they’re pushing their beliefs on everybody, and I feel differently. How many lives have been saved by vaccination?
When the Titanic is sinking, will you argue against being ordered into the lifeboat with your kiddies? Or will you jolly well admit that the alternative is more unpleasant?