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More Parents Not Vaccinating Kids


Aired 8/25/10

The number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children for kindergarten enrollment in California has nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years. A report by the San Diego Watchdog Institute examined immunization data in California for the past two decades. The report found a growing number of parents sending their kids to school without state-mandated immunizations.

— The number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children in California has nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years. A report by the San Diego Watchdog Institute examined immunization data in California for the past two decades. The report found a growing number of parents sending their kids to school without state-mandated immunizations.

Parents like Lara Hayes. “My daughter's five and my son is two and they’ve never been to a doctor,” Hayes says.

Lara Hayes had home births for both her children and plans to do the same for her third baby, now on the way.

Summer Boger has two young children and is a holistic practitioner. “I do believe when you bombard your system with chemicals that fast directly into the bloodstream you are asking your body to have a strong reaction,” Boger says.

Robyjean Delia has three kids. “I believe, feel like immunization is another part of fear-based medicine, it's not natural. I think the way we’re made is perfect and I’d like to stick to that,” Delia says.

Mothers Robyjean Delia, Lara Hayes and Summer Boger with Boger's two children...

Above: Mothers Robyjean Delia, Lara Hayes and Summer Boger with Boger's two children Makana and Aila.

These women are among a growing number of parents who choose not to immunize their kids against diseases such as the measles, mumps and whooping cough.

Their decision takes on new scrutiny in California as the state battles its worst whooping cough epidemic in 50 years. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. It may look and feel like a bad cold in older kids and adults, but for babies, it can be deadly. Eight infants in California have died from the illness this year, including a two-month-old boy from San Diego County.

A report by the San Diego-based journalism group the Watchdog Institute compiled data on immunization rates for kindergarten students for the past two decades in California. Last year, more then 10,000 parents signed personal exemption waivers. That means, because of their personal beliefs, their kids do not need to be immunized to be admitted to school.

In 1990, there were 2,700 such waivers filed in the state.

In San Diego County the overall exemption rate is 2.6 percent -- triple what it was two decades ago and slightly higher than the state average. It can also vary dramatically from school to school.

Reporter Helen Gao of the Watchdog Institute collected the data from the California Department of Public Health. “Some schools have really high exemption rates. Especially charter schools and private schools in the county, there’s one private school in the county that has 50 percent of its kindergarten class with immunization waiver,” Gao says.

Story continues below...


Schools & Vaccinations: Personal Belief Exemptions

By clicking on the map, you can see kindergarten enrollment and the number and percentage of personal belief exemptions for each school for 2008 and 2009, which are the most recent data available. Map by the Watchdog Institute.

Robyjean Delia and Lara Hayes both homeschool. Summer Boger sends her kids to a charter school which has a 33 percent exemption rate. “I don’t feel the diseases they would catch are life-threatening enough that I would threaten their life by bombarding them with something that’s foreign to their body directly into their bloodstream,” Boger says.

Boger and the other moms believe breastfeeding and good nutrition will provide their kids with the immunity they need. “Breastfeeding is one of your best defenses against immunizing your child and that’s an active decision I made with not immunizing I made sure I breastfed and breastfed on demand,” Hayes says.

Experts like Dr. Dean Sidelinger disagree. Sidelinger is the deputy public health officer for San Diego County. Sidelinger says breastfeeding gives infants only fleeting immunity from some illnesses; it does not replace vaccines.

“Good nutrition alone and great intentions of parents trying to limit exposure to people who are sick or to other children who might pass on the infection isn’t enough to prevent all diseases from being spread,” Sidelinger says.

Health officials say a now debunked study linking autism to vaccines and misinformation on the internet have contributed to the anti-vaccine movement.

Sidelinger says parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids must be aware they are making choices that affect everyone.

“It's also a decision that will have a broader public health protection because when they are out in the grocery store and there’s a baby in the next aisle or they’re sitting in the waiting room at their doctors office and the person next to them has had treatment for leukemia and not able to fight infections, if their child was sick they could potentially pass it on without even knowing it,” Sidelinger says.

Boger, Delia and Hayes are all aware of the criticism leveled against their decision. Lara Hayes was once kicked out of a mom’s group because her kids were not immunized.

“No, I don’t feel like I’m putting other people at risk, having the luxury of being a stay at home, I have the ability to keep them home,” Boger says.

Delia says immunizing your kids is “an extremely personal choice” and believes it’s up to parents to decide what’s best for their kids.

Striking that balance between personal choice and public good may be especially difficult in California as more parents stop immunizing their kids.

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Avatar for user 'tybye'

tybye | August 24, 2010 at 8:24 a.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

so the assumption is that once a person is immunized they are no longer carriers of a particular disease? That would be false! Which brings me to the second thing, and that is that when we are vaccinated, it is possible to "shed" the vaccine (I've read about this in vaccine package inserts and various articles). So really, those dangerous "unvaccinated" people are sometimes the ones at risk of catching disease from the vaccinated ones, not the other way around.
Vaccinations are not full proff, some only offering about 60% protection. You don't find health through a needle!

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Avatar for user 'oldschoolcool'

oldschoolcool | August 24, 2010 at 9:31 a.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

People are waking up to this scam by BIG PHARMA.

While immunizations ( injecting dead organisms basically ) into an un-infected person definitely helps reduce infections... NO ONE KNOW THE LONG TERM EFFECTS! Possibly worse than the infection itself. A little research shows both evidence and cover-up proof. A FACT conspicuously overlooked by the medical community... of which I was a part for 15yrs.
The number of vaccinations has swelled... and with the "flu" and "H1n1" scams getting exposed... people are wising up.
Obviously, protect your family. Just don't be a sucker and pump your kids with who knows what, so they possibly, maybe, just in case whatever.
Follow the money.
Big Pharma makes hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Avatar for user 'dylanmann'

dylanmann | August 24, 2010 at 9:34 a.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

Despite there being no cure, we have eradicated small pox, once the scourge of the world, thanks to comprehensive vaccination programs. In our lifetimes, we will see the end of incurable diseases like AIDS, polio, malaria, and African River Blindness, by prevented them from spreading thanks to vaccinations.

Many people are put off by the Western philosophy of fighting illnesses with only chemicals and surgery. This is absolutely valid. Vaccines, however, are not treatments for illness; instead, they galvanize your body's natural defenses. You can't think of them in the same vain as chemotherapy. They are injections of dead or almost dead forms of the disease they are intended to protect against. In the same way that vitamins increase the activity of our body's natural enzymes, vaccines increase the activity of our body's immune system.

If pharmaceuticals are the problem, vaccines are the solution!!! They prevent disease before it starts. I strongly object to parents "making a personal choice" because their kid is going to be next to my kid on the school playground. Like Tybye said, vaccines offer partial protection (and I want at least that for my kid), so if many kids are not protected, even those that are vaccinated are put at increased risk.

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Avatar for user 'Lew'

Lew | August 24, 2010 at 9:54 a.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

I am always amazed by the utterances from antivaxxers. Consider: "immunization is another part of fear-based medicine, its not natural". What is "fear-based medicine"? What alternative does the woman propose in its place? Sorry, I find it very difficult to understand how the anti-vaxxers come to their beliefs. Somehow they've decided that the medical establishment is lying to us and that they're smarter than than 100 years of established immunology results. They back up their beliefs with claims of "research," probably meaning some articles on the internet, participated in some anti-vaccination forums, maybe even read some of Andrew Wakefield's discredited writings. But in the course of their thinking, they've somehow had to ignore the complete or almost complete eradication through immunization of dozens of deadly diseases such as smallpox, TB, polio, and yes, whooping cough, that killed and crippled only a few generations ago. Personally, I think that what drives the anti-vaxxers is the contrarian impulse, that they resent being told what to do and they feel the need to challenge authority, even if it results in harm to themselves and others. What is dawning on the rest of us is that these people are not harmless cranks and their actions endanger the rest of the community.

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Avatar for user 'jdrinca'

jdrinca | August 24, 2010 at 12:04 p.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

These idiots are a menace to their own children and to us all. Nearly a century of experience and scientific evidence have proved that vaccines are safe and effective. Very rarely, a person receiving a vaccine suffers a negative effect of the vaccine. Occasionally, these negative effects are very serious. However, the risks of the diseases vaccines protect us from far outweigh the risks of the vaccines. Most of us alive today have never seen an active case of measles, polio, tetanus, or whooping cough. The risks of death and/or disablility from these diseases were and are real. My grandmother lived in dread that one of her children would get polio. The year before the Salk vaccine became available, one of my mother's classmates got polio. That boy survived and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair until he died of complications of his disability at 50. My mother got the vaccine in school the next year and her mother breathed a sigh of relief. Because all of the rest of us are vaccinated, the idiots don't have to fear polio. Ironically, because of their stubborn ignorance, as their numbers grow, their children are more and more at risk of serious illnesses.

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Avatar for user 'marais'

marais | August 24, 2010 at 1:39 p.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

“I don’t feel the diseases they would catch are life-threatening enough that I would threaten their life by bombarding them with something that’s foreign to their body directly into their bloodstream."

Aw! Ignorance and self-righteousness are bliss! My 19-year-old granddaughter had whooping cough last fall and developed a ruptured disc secondary to coughing. She had back surgery last week. These are very serious illnesses with which the no-vaccine people are playing Russian roulette.

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Avatar for user 'spencer'

spencer | August 24, 2010 at 5:17 p.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

these anti-vaccination people are a menace to society, and it is sad that they are unable and/or unwilling to understand how grossly ignorant their views are.

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Avatar for user 'Jocelyn'

Jocelyn | August 24, 2010 at 9:05 p.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

The anti-vaccine proponents are condescending to those who fall prey to scare tactics supposedly put on society by the pharmaceutical companies, but yet they are being persuaded by the articles written to scare people away from vaccines. I just think it's funny, yet disturbing that people are taking this information at face value without understanding any of the science behind it. I understand that biology and chemistry are not everyones' favorite subjects, but they need to understand bodily processes before they start spouting off why immunizations are so terrible.

We can't fight off disease merely by eating healthy and exercise. Parents need to understand how infections affect the body and how they spread.

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | August 25, 2010 at 8:56 a.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

Penn and Teller did a really good job of debunking that vaccines are bad for you in one of their "Bull****" series. I respectfully request that those of you out there that are subscribing to this position watch this series.

In this series it is made clear that vaccinations are not a big bread winner for the pharmaceutical industry. If you don't watch the series, consider this - you get about a dozen vaccinations early in life and then you're done. That is not the case for high blood pressure, or depression, or even drugs like Viagra. Think about it.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | August 25, 2010 at 9:11 a.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

We let kids into school without vaccinations? How stupid are we?

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Avatar for user 'KelvinJeuneauSD'

KelvinJeuneauSD | August 25, 2010 at 2:56 p.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

All these high school-educated soccer moms will be sorry when their children die or suffer from life long disabilities because they read some articles about how Jenny Mcarthy said vaccinations are bad and whipped themselves into a frenzy.

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Avatar for user 'Joanne Faryon'

Joanne Faryon, KPBS Staff | August 26, 2010 at 10:26 p.m. ― 6 years, 5 months ago

Hello Everyone,
Thanks for commenting. Another whooping cough story coming Friday morning - this one on the strain.
Joanne Faryon

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Avatar for user 'hboooo'

hboooo | August 29, 2010 at 8:43 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Good to see folks starting to think for themselves...but the more that we do the stronger the attack against our freedoms will be...this must be remembered..

People need to learn who Thomas Glocer is if they are wondering what fear based medicines are. He is Director of Merck and Rueters ....and The Council on Foreign Relations. Vaccinations are a part of the Problem Reaction Solution trauma based mind control that is being implemented by the social engineers of today. They would like to make us believe that without their magic spells we will be cursed forever. Clean water, Organic food and exercise is all we need to keep healthy. Continued usage of chemicals (pesticides, flouride) that compromise our immune system will insure that we stay sick. No vaccine will ever be able to stop that. Thats what they forget to tell us!!!!!!

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | August 30, 2010 at 8:14 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago


Medicine is not a "magic spell" it is based on science and vaccinations work. Clean water, organic food and exercise alone are not going to prevent you from getting a disease. It is just one part of the big picture of maintaining good health. It's really disturbing to me that in a day and age of what should be the promotion of science and reason we seem to be regressing back into some kind of Dark Age mentality.
Folks, vaccinations have been around for a long time and have helped to nearly eradicate many of the plagues that killed 10s of thousands in Europe. Medicine may not be perfect, but wearing a tin hat and sipping aloe juice thinking you'll stave off mind control and disease is just plain lunacy.

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Avatar for user 'hboooo'

hboooo | August 30, 2010 at 10:16 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago


I guess I should be thrown into a looney bin then right?? Then I can be forced to take them. Determined by a judge to not be capable of making up my own my mind. Yes please strip away all of my personal liberties to make sure everyone is safe....NOT

If you want to talk about slipping into the dark ages lets talk about how the ruling class are again trying to make up the decisions for the masses. Lets talk about the thousands of nurses who were threatened with losing their jobs if they didnt bow down to the RUSHED THROUGH experimental SWINE flu vaccines. How about the kids whose parents didnt think that it was neccesary to take the shots and still had the schools shoot them up with the magic potion.

In fact I think that people having acess to the studies and statistics and making up their own mind on these subjects is evidence of us coming furthur out of the dark age, even if you dont agree with them. You act like the mayo clinic didnt say that you were 3 times as likely to get sick if you got one of these shots

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | August 30, 2010 at 11:25 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Having traveled the world in areas where vaccinations and prophylactics are not readily available I can assure you that any person that thinks they will be protected by clean water, organic food and exercise alone - will either die from disease or certainly catch something that will eventually kill them. You just go trotting around in those places and see for yourself.

Unfortunately international borders are no guarantee from disease either. That is why we vaccinate.

But then again, it could be that the machines running the Matrix are just making me believe that the mounds of historical evidence supporting the idea that vaccinations work is just a dream. And by the way, I know that this tofu isn't real, but it sure tastes like tofu.

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Avatar for user 'hboooo'

hboooo | August 30, 2010 at 12:03 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

funny you say the matrix. because the map above, shows folks that have signed the vaccine waiver, as little red dots. Almost like little red pills.. HMMM..

Its funny to me though that I post a link to the documents from actual clinics and you push it off as some sort of conspiracy theory. You then point to a mountain of evidence but post no links. Please help me understand. Show me this proof.

If everyone who subscribes to the Non-Vaccine diet is so stupid why do so many health care workers refuse to take it? Are they all just idiotic, crazy, high school educated soccor moms as some would say?

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | August 30, 2010 at 1:22 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago


Cut and pasted from the very site you referenced:

"Conclusion: Improving these low vaccination rates among healthcare workers warrants a comprehensive national approach to influenza prevention that includes education and strong encouragement of routine annual vaccination among healthcare workers."

Doesn't seem to support your position.

The topic focus wasn't about the annual flu vaccine or the H1N1 virus, the topic was "More Parents Not Vaccinating Kids." If you don't get the annual flu vaccine - sure, not necessarily a big deal, but not so for kids not vaccinated against some of the world's worst diseases like measles, mumps, polio, and whooping cough - just to name a few. Although, people do die from the flu every year.

I could list web sites for you supporting use of vaccines, I'll put one below, but obviously all that science is questionable right? Just like the science that makes cars run, planes fly, and radio and television work. It's all a conspiracy by "the Man" to keep us alive longer so they can control us and use our body heat and energy to make their machines run. In fact, I'd be careful using the computer as the "man" might be using it to interface your thoughts. LOL

Here’s a link, even though it's all complete nonsense:

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Avatar for user 'hboooo'

hboooo | August 30, 2010 at 6:42 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the link Im looking into right now and will respond. There is alot of info there.

As far as the response to the link I posted...The authors conclusion may differ from mine however the FACTS of the article completely stand in line with the question that I asked. It aslo goes to show that based on the same FACTS people can come to different opinions. So please give me your opinon on this graph


do you think that there should even be a choice or that there should be a choice however person who arent vaccinating are making the wrong choice?

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | August 31, 2010 at 9:01 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago


I can't get anything from the graph you linked because it's lacking clarification as to what it represents. There is also no reference to where this "data?" came from. Keep in mind the vaccine for polio wasn't even available until the mid 1950s - so, the usage rate or refusal to use it in the US and Britian couldn't have happened in the the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, before it was even discovered.

I'm done with this subject. A spirited discussion can be fun, but one thing I've come to accept is that no matter how much science, logic, and historical reference you have in your arsenal, a person will still believe what they want to believe.

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Avatar for user 'hboooo'

hboooo | August 31, 2010 at 10:24 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

The graph shows that Polio was already in a downward motion prior to the vaccines. Alot of folks beleive that without the vaccine it would have been eliminated because of the improvments in sanitation and that scientists knowing this tried to hijack the advancement with the vaccines.

This link has alot more info on the subject.

Well im sorry to hear that you so easily were bored with our discussion. I thought it was getting good. You must like preaching to choirs. I understand.
I do wish though that you would have answered my last question

"do you think that there should even be a choice or that there should be a choice however person who arent vaccinating are making the wrong choice?"

but since you didnt i wrote a poem..

we dont need no forced drugs, all we need is sunlight
clean water, exercise, organic foods in our diet.
In other words a natural life is all we need to keep a virus
from being able to live inside us.
Its our choice not these Tyrants.
Dont be deceived by the CDC, pushing martial law through quarantine.
Trying to hijack our human rights,
make us give them up in the name of SCIENCE.
Overall plan is a EUGENICS scam,
did doctor OZ give the shot to his fam.
Of course he didnt.
None of them Do, but THEY still want it mando for me and YOU!!!

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Avatar for user 'socal4me'

socal4me | August 31, 2010 at 9:57 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Hey guys - I can't help but put a few cents in here. I have a background in immunology (no, I don't work for Pharm) and I see children and teens with infectious diseases daily. I encounter at least one family per day who does not vaccinate because they have "done their research" and come to that conclusion. I applaud them for taking an interest in their child's health. I then have a discussion (as long as time permits) about how vaccines work, what infections we are trying to prevent, how these infections are spread, and then we have a discussion about the most common concerns - autism, developmental disorders, "overwhelming" the immune system, etc. After having a rational discussion, a majority actually come to realize 1) our immune system is not perfect, and while practicing good sanitation helps, it by no means guarantees protection against disabling or deadly infection; 2) nearly all of the infections that we vaccinate against are spread through respiratory droplets just like a common cold - if you can catch a cold, you can catch pertussis, measles, invasive HiB, chickenpox, etc; 3) while the prevalence of these infections have dropped drastically since the introduction of the vaccines (HiB meningitis is down 95% since the introduction of the vaccine, the cases of H1N1 dropped drastically once widespread vaccination was instituted); these infections are still out there - pertussis is a prime example. All of the deaths in California from pertussis, with the exception of 1 (a premature infant), this year were in unvaccinated children. In no way do I force a family into the decision of vaccinating their child - it is their decision - just like there are people who refuse blood transfusions even though they have life-threatening bleeding. However, I do like for families to make **informed** decisions and understand both sides, not just the anti-vaccine side. And while there is good information about vaccines and infectious diseases available online, etc, there is 20 times more false / misleading (albeit perhaps compelling) information.

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 1, 2010 at 9:20 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago


Thank you, well said. I don't think I could have such grace with people as you apparently do. Despite it all, please keep up the good effort.

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Avatar for user 'hboooo'

hboooo | September 6, 2010 at 11:25 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago


your argument completley rests on the supposed fact that these diseases declined due to vaccines. This is one part of my anti-vaccine argument. There is evidence that shows the decline had already started prior to the introduction of the vaccines. In fact the decline was sometimes stunted for a period of time after the introduction.

I agree our immune system is not perfect. But can there really be any guarantee that we will not catch something. Of course not. We see the cases all the time where the vaccinated individual ends up catching the very same disease they were trying not to catch. Sometimes with just as a severe reaction.

Im glad to see that you agree that folks should have a choice in the matter however there are many proponents of vaccines that believe that is out of the question and that we are to stupid to make the choice for ourselves. This is TYRANNY!!

Then I hear arguments about how crazy it is that kids are allowed to go to school without shots. WTF!! Lemme get this straight. First you wanna to tax people to make the schools, then make it mandatory that they send their kids to school, and then take away their rights to not have a medicine forced onto them. THIS IS TYRANNY.

I wonder why its so hard to understand why I would be suspicious of the folks who enforce these laws. Is it paranoia to hide your lunch money when the bully comes out onto the playground headed in your direction?

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Avatar for user 'tina'

tina | November 19, 2010 at 10:04 p.m. ― 6 years, 2 months ago

If you pro-vaccinaters are so sure vaccines prevent this and that illness then why the fear of your so-called protected children getting sick from being around children that aren't vaccinated? Shouldn't the parents of the children who aren't vaccinated be worried about their children getting sick? I guess vaccines aren't the "miracle workers" that thy're hiped up to be since children still get sick anyway.Why isn't there a vaccine for yellow fever,since we should be taking "precautions",that's a serious illness.

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Avatar for user 'Fusco'

Fusco | November 21, 2010 at 12:05 p.m. ― 6 years, 2 months ago

So all of you parents that think non-vax parents are ignorant and a danger, do YOU get all of your boosters on all of your vaccines or get vaccines that were not available when you were a child???? Because MOST cases of kids getting sick are from exposure to their parents. You know almost all vaccines have a life of 10-15 max............It's ignorance to vaccinate blindly because that is what the majority does. Do you get the lot #'s, manufacturer name, etc. when you vaccinate your children. Don't you think it's odd you have to sign a WAIVER to vaccinate your child and that you cannot sue the Dr. or Pharma Co. if your child has a reaction. And don't you think it's odd if your child gets a horrible disorder like Guillain-Barre from vaccinations that they still recommend you to complete the series???

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Avatar for user 'NurseMichelle'

NurseMichelle | November 25, 2010 at 7:22 p.m. ― 6 years, 1 month ago


There is a vaccine for yellow fever. It is only given to people when they travel overseas to countries where the disease is endemic, because it is spread by mosquito bites, not from person to person. Get your facts straight.

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Avatar for user 'NurseMichelle'

NurseMichelle | November 25, 2010 at 7:39 p.m. ― 6 years, 1 month ago

And Fusco,

The form that you have to sign to vaccinate your child is a CONSENT FORM, not a WAIVER. It does not absolve anyone from any liability, it simply states that you are allowing your child to be vaccinated. Plenty of people have sued (many of them successfully) over vaccine injuries, most of them with no proven link to the vaccine. And most doctors will not recommend that you complete the series after a serious adverse effect.

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Avatar for user 'cambridge204'

cambridge204 | January 4, 2011 at 7:08 p.m. ― 6 years ago

Thanks to Lew, Soca, and Michellel for their RATIONAL thoughts.
My grandson lives in CA and is up to date with his immunizations.

Perhaps those who do not want to protect their children from deadly diseases could put all the money they save from doctors' visits toward tuition for a private school for unvaccinated children.

The "Free Choicers" will not get it until a child dies in their arms.
They will not be able to blame the pharmaceutical companies.

No wonder "Mr. Moonbeam" was once again elected governor.

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Avatar for user 'Random71'

Random71 | July 26, 2012 at 4:33 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Are you not aware that your not even suing big pharma our government is protecting them, one of the taxes on the vaccine goes to pay for those who win in vaccine injury court. So we're paying for all of that!

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