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Guest Opinion: Vaccination editorial was disrespectful

As someone who’s done a fair amount of reading and research on vaccination injury and death, including the high prevalence of unreported and/or unacknowledged cases, I was dismayed by your editorial titled “Vaccination deniers.” It struck me as disrespectful, and at best, more of an undisciplined rant than a thoughtful or insightful piece of journalism.

It seemed to be directed towards the “highly educated” parents in Ashland who choose not to vaccinate, which raises the question: Why are they making that choice? Instead of delving into that fundamental question with at least a modicum of respect, the author instead decides to denigratingly refer to them as “deniers” and “anti-science.” Even worse, the author goes on to accuse them of not doing what’s best for their children — a very serious charge indeed.

From my observations, most parents who choose not to vaccinate make this decision after a long and careful analysis of the pros and cons of vaccination, weigh the risks of each, and then make a decision they feel is in the best interest of their children and their families. To even remotely suggest otherwise is highly irresponsible.

Regarding the “anti-science” charge, medical research these days is more and more controlled by moneyed interests looking for very specific outcomes. Research data, frequently derived from flawed protocols, are often manipulated or outright disregarded, and compelling empirical data that don’t support desired outcomes are routinely discounted.

Though these practices are touted under the banner of “pure science,” in reality it’s far more akin to “pseudo-science.” To ignore the for-profit economic and political agendas that permeate many areas of modern medicine is not a wise course of action. Surely most people are aware of the common admonition to get a second opinion.

I once read about the president of a major medical school giving a commencement address in which he stated that as much as half of what they learned in medical school would eventually be proven wrong within five years. He added that unfortunately, he didn't know which half it was.

I also once viewed a PBS program where they speculated how far we have come in our understanding of the mysteries of many areas of inquiry, including physics, astronomy and medicine. They gave a figure of 4 percent of what we have truly come to understand reasonably well.

My point? To even remotely suggest that the science and efficacy of vaccinations and their relative safety has been settled is a striking example of medical hubris. As much as medical science claims to know, in reality, many “facts” (or perhaps articles of faith) they claim to know eventually turn out not to be the case. Anybody who even casually watches the evening news can attest to that. Often, however, it takes astute and courageous people to recognize a betrayal of true science, and to challenge a resulting status quo.

I applaud the progressive (and caring!) parents of Ashland who, on the whole, have likely made a more concerted effort than normal to ferret out some of the conflicting information surrounding vaccinations before deciding whether to vaccinate their children. Regardless of how they discern which claims are based on pure science and which on pseudo-science, I absolutely respect their critical thinking, and believe the choices they make are what they consider to be in the best interests of their children. I think this kind of respect should be a minimal starting point for anybody writing an opinion piece and initiating a thorny debate on such a controversial topic.

Wayne Freeman lives in Ashland.