My Turn: Anti-vax coverage counter to healthy discourse

It was disappointing to read your article and editorial coverage of public testimony on the proposed expansion of mandated vaccines by the Department of Health. It is easy to stigmatize, name call and deride people whose researched opinions are contrary to one’s own. It is also easy to quote the opinions of organizations and institutions holding the same position as you do.

It does not in any way demonstrate an ability or willingness to evaluate the quality of published research and therefore the value of its conclusions. To show disrespect for the heartfelt testimony of health care professionals and engaged citizens does nothing to promote civil discourse and civic engagement. For all of us, it is imperative that we do all that we can to encourage these very important social responsibilities.

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It is difficult for individuals and professionals to devote the uncompensated time and energy to research and develop a position contrary to that promulgated by establishment institutions. There is in fact a significant body of evidence that runs contrary to your newspaper’s conclusions and the positions promoted by public health authorities. For example, as easy as it was for you to reference articles supporting your position, the following references contradict your claims. Articles in the European Journal of Pediatrics in 2005 and the journal Vaccine in 2006 raise concerns of an association between sudden infant deaths and vaccines. In the British Medical Journal in 2010 an author demonstrated that under reporting in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System was a whopping 1 case report out of 200 for a particular vaccine related illness.

There are hundreds of published scientific articles raising concerns about vaccine effectiveness and safety. You opined that this is junk science, on what basis? Many of these articles are published in respected peer reviewed journals. Have you read the details of studies raising concerns related to vaccination before dismissing them? I know how much time that takes. I have evaluated scores of studies with contradictory conclusions, some good, some bad and believe that the science does not support the absolute statements in your editorial. There is actually room for educated disagreement based on research and facts.

It would be of greater value for the community at large to explore the evidence supporting both sides of the discussion (a discussion as opposed to an argument) and promote the fundamental concept and legal mandate in Hawaii for a thoroughly informed consent to treatment, a statutory mandate well-defined and currently not adhered to with regards to vaccination mandates. Those brave enough to swim against the current medical dogma, based on their research should not be derided but respected and engaged in debate, and again, I am disappointed at your failure to respectfully disagree.

As union leader Nicholas Klein said in 1914 (apparently not Mahatma Gandhi as most people believe), “First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.”

Nelson Mandela was labeled as a terrorist, Martin Luther King was called a communist, join the club “anti-vaxxers,” you are in good company.

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Mahalo for this opportunity.

Dr. Joe Kassel, N.D., L.Ac., lives in Holualoa.