It’s a message that doesn’t rely on well-supported arguments to be effective. It’s persuasive for a variety of reasons. It appeals to cynicism. It appeals to paranoia. It appeals to alienation. And it even appeals to sympathies for mavericks, cranks, and other sorts of underdogs.
Anti-medical and anti-pharmaceutical industry rhetoric has persuaded many parents to choose for their children religious or philosophical exemptions to mandated measles-mumps-rubella vaccination. This isn’t freedom of choice; it’s misinformed non-consent. One result has been the recent measles outbreak in California.
I am sick and tired of anti-establishment propaganda being used to undermine the health of communities. When I read a disturbing article in the Los Angeles Times on March 5th, I decided it was time to use anti-establishment rhetoric in the interest of community health. I wrote this letter to the editor, which was published online on March 9th and in the print edition the next day.
To the editor: Although the chiropractic establishment is clueless regarding science-based clinical services, it's generally savvy regarding public relations and political lobbying to advance its business interests. But sometimes Big Chiro can't hide its paranoid anti-medicine passions and reveals itself as a cult at odds with reason and public opinion. ("Chiropractors lobby against bill ending belief exemptions for vaccines," March 5)
Since many chiropractors mislead patients to believe that vaccines are unsafe and diseases are preventable by regular chiropractic visits, the California Chiropractic Assn. opposes legislation to do away with personal belief exemptions for mandated childhood vaccines.
Many chiropractors falsely claim that they address the underlying cause of “disease.” But at best, they can provide symptomatic relief for some types of back problems.
In contrast, vaccines remediate true underlying causes by stimulating immune responses against disease-causing microbes. While vaccine effectiveness is imperfect, populations can be immunized when nearly everyone gets vaccinated. Receiving mandated childhood vaccinations is a social obligation, not a matter of misinformed consumer choice.
To the editor: As a practicing obstetrician who has delivered more than 8,000 babies and even some of their babies, I wholeheartedly support vaccination for infants and children unless medically contraindicated. I do believe that the government has an obligation to prevent serious illness and death of those who are unvaccinated.
Certainly, in a free country every organization has a right to express its opinion, but I think the chiropractors as a group should not be making decisions on what children to vaccinate.
Michael L. Friedman, MD, Torrance
To the editor: Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs even when it comes to public health issues.
If a parent makes a choice not to vaccinate his or her children, then so be it. Just don't allow the children in public places like public schools, theme parks, movie theaters and so on.
Sheryl Kinne, Lake Balboa