Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

 In honor of MLKJR day, I want to touch on something that I believe is a civil liberties issue. It's not the argument you probably think it is. I just hope and pray that anyone reading this can keep a somewhat open mind - without that, our civil rights will always be at risk.

The global media is alight with whispers of a nameless fear. Okay, it's not nameless. But I hope you caught that Lord of the Rings reference. In reality, the WHO has done us all a favor and named it. Not surprisingly to the conservative community, the WHO released a statement this year claiming that vaccine hesitancy is considered a global threat.
Much like a group of Catholic teenage boys innocently wearing MAGA hats, the media didn't just take this and run with it. They stretched it, skewed it, embroidered it on their T-shirts, copied and resold it, and took all the artistic license to retell it how they deemed necessary.
Before I get into that aspect of it all, let me digress a little.

Back in 2008 (holy crap...was that really ten years ago??) a woman named Casey Anthony was indicted on charges of murdering her toddler. There was massive condemning evidence, and basically everyone witnessing the trial unfold from the comforts of their own homes was absolutely certain of her guilt. The actual trial, however, became a convoluted mess as her hilariously flamboyant attorney played a Richard Gere-esque song and dance for the media. In a short time, his mission became clear. Jose Baez was not trying to defend the mother's innocence by disproving any of the incriminating evidence. The grand jury let her off the hook in the end, but not at all because they knew she was innocent. The attorney had planted what will always stick in most of our mind as "reasonable doubt." The human condition to empathize overruled their outrage and demand for justice - this jury simply could not condemn another human being to death if they weren't 110% sure.
The term, although slightly overused during the trial, has substantial merit. Jose Baez insisted that Casey Anthony must be proven guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt," and then somehow managed to plant that reasonable doubt into the mind of the jury. While the whole thing was a major upset and felt like a huge failure of our justice system, the ideology behind his tactic is solid.
When I had my third child in October of 2010, I began to question the healthcare I had received. By the time my fourth came along in 2013, I was so torn about all the decisions involved in birthing a child that I was having anxiety attacks. We eventually chose to hold off on things like routine newborn care and vaccines until we could spend more time looking into all the information out there. We knew we could always get caught up on vaccines later. Over time, we have formed a much stronger opinion of vaccines in general, and have not vaccinated a child since!
I have been labelled an "anti-vaxxer" in the aftermath of our choice, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. I know the general science behind vaccines is sound. I don't think vaccines are inherently evil and I don't think they harm everyone. I believe very strongly that parents have a right to choose for their own family if the benefits outweigh the risks, and that right should never be taken away.
What is scary, to me, is how many supporters of vaccines believe that anyone who doesn't vaccinate is uneducated and is harming others. The stigma surrounding those perceived as "anti-vaxxers" is often arrogant and hateful - and it shouldn't be. I can't speak for everyone but for me, personally, I don't want to convince anyone not to vaccinate. I don't want to "prove" this or that about the conclusions I have come to on the subject. I just want some level of understanding. There is a bigger picture being painted around the globe about the safety and efficiency of vaccines if you care to look hard enough. After my own research, I cannot say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that vaccines are healthy, safe, and efficient. That's not a statement as to the risk/benefit analysis by any means. I can't link a million studies and show indisputable proof of this, but I can share where I have found what I deem as the doubt that keeps me from vaccinating my children at this point. It's going to be long, tiresome, and thorough, but I am going to attempt to put it all in one place.

The First Doubt: Media Bias

 As I mentioned, the WHO declared that "vaccine hesitancy" as a global threat. Judging from the headlines being posted, the media went into an absolute frenzy over this new fodder against the "anti-vaxxers." Here are a few headlines to articles that indiscriminately completely tear apart and dehumanize families who have chosen not to vaccinate:

Measles Outbreaks Show Why Anti Vaxxers Made WHO's 10 Global Health Threats


Harrop: Anti-vaxxers spread a plague of ignorance 


Anti-vaxxers among top 'threats to global health,' WHO says


Anti-Vaxxers Declared One of the Top 10 Threats to Public Health in 2019 as a Measles Outbreak Spreads Across Vancouver, Wash.


Facebook especially is absolutely flooded with news reports and random posts about the WHO's declaration. These articles paint a fairly specific picture of the statement, as reporters are trained to do. I wonder how many people read the actual statement made by the WHO? Stripping it of the added bulk of these reports, meant to invoke a certain emotional response, it tells a slightly different story. 

WHO:    Ten threats to global health in 2019

The post does not mention a specific order for these items deemed as threats. The article begins in a fair and generalized commentary about many perceived "health challenges." The excerpt about vaccines is the eighth on the page, and is being presented in a different light than how it is being portrayed in the media.

Vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.

Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy. However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.

The reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are complex; a vaccines advisory group to WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy. Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisor and influencer of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines.

In 2019, WHO will ramp up work to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide by increasing coverage of the HPV vaccine, among other interventions. 2019 may also be the year when transmission of wild poliovirus is stopped in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last year, less than 30 cases were reported in both countries. WHO and partners are committed to supporting these countries to vaccinate every last child to eradicate this crippling disease for good.  

Key points:

  1. The article does not once mention "anti-vaxxers."
  2. It is noted that not all resurgence of disease are due to vaccine hesitancy.
  3. Explanations include complacency, inconvenience to vaccine access, and lack of confidence.
The list also includes issues like air pollution and diabetes, antimicrobial  resistance, and weak primary health care. I have not seen a single post on facebook about any of the other issues on this list. No one is using the WHO as a source to prove their point that diabetes isn't just sad, but a global health threat. It is not being wielded as a weapon in other current battles.

What you take from this is beyond my control, but I can't compare what the WHO actually said to what the media is reporting without seeing a major bias. Unfortunately, media bias is not limited to sources trying to incriminate the non-vaccinating community. I've seen an equal number of sources falsely reporting against vaccines. The bottom line is that you can't really trust anything you read in totality. Obviously, medical journals and peer-reviewed sources are a great source to begin with, but even then, there is a major lack of conclusive evidence that is often seen.
Think about how much headway has been made in studying the medical applications of marijuana. There are millions of people believing that marijuana is a miracle cure for most things, yet the lack of funding and political interest has kept us from the proof being visible in legitimate scientific study. To that point, try to convince someone that marijuana is not the healer they believe. The opinion was not formed from reading peer reviewed journals; it was formed from the majority of people, especially on social media, using their common sense. You take in all the information you can get, from every source, and then sometimes, you have to fill in the gaps for yourself. I can assure you, there are GAPS in vaccine information. You have to sort through the media bias to find them, and then conclude what you will from the rest.

Trusting the CDC and Big Pharma

If you have utmost faith in our government no matter what, I can't help you. When it comes down to it though, I think a small part of every American wonders how much the government really tries to hide from us. Amidst the media bias, small, fractured pieces of a different story begin to emerge about the CDC and what they stand to gain from the wares they peddle. One of the first arguments that people use to "prove" the safety and efficacy of vaccines comes directly from the CDC website. There is an alarming amount of faith in everything that the CDC claims. The same people who are entirely skeptical about anything to do with most branches of the government will quickly stand behind the statements and statistics put out by the CDC.
I consider the CDC to be a potentially corrupt organization. When you think about it, every organization is potentially  corrupt. It's not conspiracy to believe that the CDC could have motivating factors beyond keeping you safe and healthy.

How Conflicts of Interest Have Corrupted the CDC

 While this article may yet be another example of media bias, it takes very little digging to fact check certain points. The CDC gets donations from pharmaceutical companies, including those that manufacture vaccines. 

The infamous revolving door between the government and the drug industry is another factor that has done an awful lot to destroy scientific integrity and government accountability. One classic example is Dr. Julie Gerberding, who headed up the CDC—which among other things is charged with overseeing vaccines—from 2002 to 2009 before becoming the president of Merck’s vaccine division, a position she currently holds today.
The influence her former high-level ties to the CDC wields is enormous, considering the fact that Merck makes 14 of the 17 pediatric vaccines recommended by the CDC, and 9 of the 10 recommended for adults. And while vaccine safety advocates are trying to rein in the number of vaccines given to babies, safety concerns keep falling on deaf ears. The vaccine industry is booming, and it's become quite clear that profit potential is the driving factor behind it. It is this type of reprehensible and inexcusable behavior that makes it an enormous challenge to change this seriously flawed paradigm.

Why Did the Wall Street Journal Bury the Merck Fraud Story?

I honestly feel like this should just be common sense. If the organization that is telling you a product is completely safe is also receiving funding from the company who manufactures that product, you should be seriously side-eyeing what they are telling you. Whether you decide in the end that it is just coincidence or a non-issue is really no one's business but yours - but it's grossly irresponsible to deny that there is the potential for corruption in a relationship like this. Right off the bat, I have crossed the CDC and any pharmaceutical companies that manufacture vaccines *off* my list of reliable sources. Does that make me a crazy conspiracy theorist? Am I an ignorant conservative vulture? I can't even begin to "prove" that the CDC is corrupt - no one can. To me, though, this is more than enough to create a reasonable doubt about the trustworthiness of the CDC. 
Let's just assume, at this point, that your doubt is now measurable in some capacity and anything you read from here on out, can be neither proven or disproved by the media or the CDC. I know, it seems like that is going to hurt my point. How can I explain my standpoint on vaccines if I am basically saying that even articles stating vaccines are harmful can be wrought with media bias? Keep in mind that I don't want to prove anything. I don't want to convince you that you are right or wrong, wherever you fall in this debate.  

Vaccines are safe 

The mantra that "vaccines are safe" is repeated again and again in an effort to convince not only the unvaccinated community but also any parents or caregivers that may be questioning their choices. It's incredibly hard to sort through the studies and the literature, when you have your family practitioner saying one thing and your crunchy mom friends saying another. A study will get published, then retracted; a scientist will post his findings, then become "discredited." It's a wash of hog poop and there are no rubber boots tall enough. The most beneficial thing we can do, as parents, is to start looking at the minor details. There isn't going to be a published medical journal or a statement from the CDC proving that a vaccine can cause the specific degree of harm that some people suspect. We can't look to "statistics" on vaccine injuries! What is the statistic that your seat belt can actually HARM you in a wreck? Who cares?? You still want to wear your seat belt. What are the statistics on raw flour giving you salmonella? Yet the latter scenario has contributed to public statements being issued that we should NOT be consuming raw flour. What is the difference? You've probably formed opinions about both of those things based on anecdotal data, not true and proven statistics. You know a person who got sick from cookie dough, or you know people who have eaten it for years without adverse affects. You know from common sense and experience that you should probably wear your seat belt. Looking at the experiences of others who claim vaccine injury shouldn't necessarily seal your entire opinion by any means, but it's not a far-fetched or stupid idea to take these things into account.


    A frequent theme for parents of vaccine-injured children: being told by doctors and nurses that the reaction they experienced was not from the vaccine. This child purportedly died from the Hep B vaccine.
    "The VIS indicates that if a child has an adverse reaction parents should, “Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form.” The VIS implies that it is the parent’s job to ask their healthcare provider to report the reaction. This may be due to the fact that it is common knowledge that where parents do not specifically push for the severe reactions to be reported, the reports are largely unmade. Shouldn’t it be automatic that medical professionals report adverse reactions? How is it otherwise possible that reporting from VAERS would even come close to representing accurate numbers? One of Ian’s neonatologists at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin did report Ian’s case to VAERS. She also wanted to document Ian’s life in a case study for the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics. Children’s Hospital prohibited her from doing this.  

    Another oddly common theme among vaccine injury reports is seizure activity

    The family was compensated after their child suffered from a sudden behavior change that was diagnosed as autism. The director of the CDC at the time, Julie Gerberding, who is now president of Merck, noted that the child's autism was caused by an "underlying mitochondrial disorder."

    My own personal experience has been criticized recently as well. When my second child was a baby, he suddenly and quite mysteriously became sick. We guessed he had picked up something at his well-child visit, but he had no fever or symptoms other than being lethargic - for about ten days. He went from being an active and happy kid to laying on the floor or laying in our arms and sleeping. He was barely responsive as he seemed to sleep most days away. The behavior was alarming, but with no other symptoms, we weren't taken very seriously. As fairly new parents, we were very worried. We were discussing taking him in despite being told it was unnecessary when the next morning, he was back to his normal self. It was not until recently that I realized the most likely explanation for his frightening malaise after his well-child check up. Have you ever heard of mild encephalitis? It can be mostly asymptomatic, aside from lethargy and malaise, typically lasting around a week. Supposedly, there is no "known" link between vaccines and encephalitis. Seeing as how the MMR vaccine is a live virus, and measles itself is linked to encephalitis, I can't even wrap my head around how they have ruled that out.

    I have seen countless examples of children that were disabled or even fatally injured immediately after vaccine administration. The question remains, why is everyone so sure that vaccines are safe then? There are a handful of studies showing the safety of vaccines in the U.S. I have seen it argued that these studies are performed by those who stand to gain the most from vaccine support, or that many of the studies are outdated. Anything to the contrary has been quickly retracted, disproved, or gotten the publisher labelled as a fraud. In some weird yet unsubstantiated instances, researchers and doctors have even turned up dead. Keeping in mind that certain rabbit trails can only be followed once you resolve yourself to the fact that the CDC and the media might not be trusted, you can still find the supporting science behind the potential for vaccines to be unsafe.  These rabbit trails are not often found in the U.S. The alternate "truths" lie in research being done overseas. 

    International scientists have found autism's cause. What will Americans do?


    Aluminium in brain tissue in autism

      Measles-Induced Neuroautistic Encephalopathy (MINE) has only been reported in children who have received MMR vaccines


    The Swedish Parliament voted against all vaccine motions

    It stands to reason that findings like these contribute significantly to many parents' hesitation at vaccinating their children. If studies show that adjuvants like aluminum create an immune response and are proven to be neurotoxins, and then are proven to cause neurological degeneration, can you blame those of us whose doubt about the safety of vaccines has grown exponentially? No, this does not prove that vaccines are dangerous necessarily... but it's not about proving anything. You would have to be blind to not see where the doubt is justified.

     Vaccines are efficient 

    Opinions about the failure rate of vaccines are all over the map. I know from personal experience that the MMR vaccine fails. I was given the MMR vaccine when I was pregnant with my first child. I was told I was not "up to date" with my vaccines and it was something I needed. After delivering her, I was given the vaccine again. I did not realize that it was the same vaccine I had already been given during pregnancy. Now, repeat this story two more times. After my third child, the nurse came in to let me know the doctor would be coming by with an MMR vaccine since my blood work showed no immunity. Finally, no thanks to my ADHD, it clicked that this was the same vaccine I had already been given multiple times. I asked the doctor why I would be given it when I had already had it several times. He informed me that lots of people don't develop an immunity, and being given the vaccine numerous times won't hurt you. That is just one example, but there are more. 

    Studies Show that Vaccinated Individuals Spread Disease

    Many of the reference links in this article are missing, which is disappointing, but the ones that still exist are important to read. 


    Current status of measles in the Republic of Korea: an overview of case-based and seroepidemiological surveillance scheme

    Measles was eradicated in Korea, but there has been a resurgence of "vaccine-modified" infections. 

    Asymptomatic transmission and the resurgence of Bordetella pertussis

    Vaccine Failures Keep Mounting

     The actual efficiency of vaccines, in general, can't truly be assigned a value. There will always be the argument that the failure rate is so low or that the occurrence of those who are vaccinated that actually spread these illnesses is so rare. Again, very little digging is required to discover that major headway was made in the near-eradication of these viruses before vaccines came along. Many of the statistics were dramatically altered by better sanitation practices and hygiene standards. That's not to say that vaccines didn't help, of course, but it should not be ignored that a 50% drop or more in infection rates before the use of a vaccine should not be attributed to the efficiency of said vaccine. 

    Vaccines (Part II): Hygiene,Sanitation, Immunization,and Pestilential Diseases

     If you have made it this far, I commend you. I'm guessing more people have begun reading and completely gave up, refusing to be "convinced" of anything beyond what they already believe. For everyone else, you can probably see where my reasonable doubt about vaccinations has pushed me to question everything. 

    In truth, the final piece of the puzzle didn't fall into place for me until long after we had given up vaccinating. That piece, a particularly curious bit of doubt, comes in the form of what we have been told about childhood illnesses that our prior generations experienced firsthand. I started to think, right when we began to entertain the idea of foregoing vaccines, how regretful I would be if one of my children ever caught one of these deadly, preventable diseases or viruses. That lead me to look more intently at the information that was out there.

    These diseases are deadly

    I distinctly remember getting the chicken pox. I was miserable for about a week. I had blisters everywhere, I felt like crap, and I itched like crazy. I still have scars! I don't remember having a fever or any other complications, but I do remember that I was around 9 or 10 years old and my mom was getting nervous about the fact that I had not yet been infected. So when my gross cousin got chicken pox, my mom made me wear his gross shirt to assure I would catch the virus. Yuck. 
    Other than the gross factor of wearing my dirty cousin's dirty shirt, I came out of the ordeal mostly unscathed. My experience was similar to almost every person I have ever talked to who had chicken pox before they started vaccinating against it so heavily. In fact, when the first vaccines were being pushed, they were widely ridiculed - even by the vaccinating community. Why did we need to prevent chicken pox of all things? It was a harmless childhood virus. 
    I didn't know until recently that people actually die from chicken pox. I suppose it just never really occurred to me; after all, it was just chicken pox
    I was talking to my dad (born in 1959) about vaccinations and he started telling me about when he got measles as a child. His story was not some scary tale of horror wrought with death and devastation. It was not unlike my own account of surviving a childhood illness. 
    One begins to wonder if those living in the time of measles viewed the illness the same way as us 80s kids viewed chicken pox. 

    From 1988-1991, there were 53,000 reported cases of measles and 120 deaths in the U.S.
    In 1992, there were 158,000 cases of chicken pox and deaths averages 100 per year. 

    In 2013, there were 189 reported cases of measles, and no reported deaths. There were 478 cases of chicken pox - and no reported deaths. 
    In 2014, 667 cases of measles reported with no deaths, and 297 cases of chicken pox with no deaths. 

    The rates of measles is all over the map, with deaths per year being practically nonexistent (11 deaths reported since 2000). 
    I'm not at all trying to say that we shouldn't be preventing these diseases and trying to eradicate them - but it does make me wonder why everyone is so fearful of contracting a disease when statistics show you are more likely to be harmed by the vaccine. 

    Can Measles Vaccine Cause Injury & Death?

    Does this make anyone else wonder why the media portrays measles outbreaks as horrifying, preventable tragedies despite more reported deaths from the vaccine itself? Like I said, I can't see evidence like this without reasonably doubting what we are being told about vaccines. Do you doubt? Is there no part of you, assuming you actually clicked the links, read the studies, looked at the evidence, and truly weighed it all, that doubts the perfect safety and efficiency of vaccines?

    But...but... it's necessary. It's for the greater good. We need herd immunity. There's risks to *everything*. This is what I hear:



    The most sickening trend, in my opinion, is the declaration that the benefits outweigh the risk. The big picture isn't herd immunity. The big picture is that vaccines have the potential to literally kill someone's child. You cannot minimize the death or maiming of a child in contrast to your opinion on vaccines. The risks are real. They are listed on the vaccine inserts. They are noted on the CDC website, for those who still have faith in them. The utterance that side effects are "rare" is no comfort to a parent whose child has been severely injured or killed. Ultimately, we are not choosing between death or injury from vaccine or death or injury from a disease. Those are not the options we are being dealt. You are first and foremost choosing if you want a potentially harmful substance injected into your child. You can look at the risk, down the road, of your child catching an illness and subsequently being harmed by that illness - it doesn't negate any potential risk at this exact moment while you are choosing whether to administer a vaccine.The problem is, you are more than welcome, as a parent, to say, "it's probably fine," and choose to spin the wheel against the potential risks of vaccinating. That's your right as a parent. I want the right to that choice as well. Unless you can say, absolutely beyond a reasonable doubt, that vaccines are 100% safe and efficient, you should not preach against parents trying to make their own informed decision. Every parent should have the right to make that choice. We shouldn't be pointing fingers and placing blame or dehumanizing each other over this. Instead, we should be demanding higher standards for a product that is meant to save lives. We should insist on more rigorous testing and proven statistics from a reputable organization if they are planning to inject our children. I don't think that is too much to ask.