The article includes spokespeople from all sides of the debate, including leaders of the "safe vaccines" movement. Most telling to me, however, was this bit of the article, which includes citations from immunization specialists whose work focuses on developing and implementing vaccines:
...even if the threats are emerging from a small section of those who oppose recommended vaccine schedules, those in the field say that they have a definite impact on the work they do.The article goes on to say that, of course, no real violence has taken place so far... but plenty has been threatened, across the board.
"Does it stop me from speaking what I think is the truth? No," Poland said [Poland is Director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a vocal proponent of universal flu vaccination].
But, he notes, "I know of colleagues who have decided to write something slightly different or say something slightly different because they are afraid of inciting anti-vaccine groups."
Dr. William Schaffner, professor and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., said, "The threats certainly -- as well as the anticipation of heated 'feedback' -- clearly has inhibited colleagues from engaging in the public discussion of contentious issues regarding vaccines, Lyme disease, etc."
Schaffner said he has never received such threats. But, he added, "as to myself, this unpleasantness makes me very wary; we are a society that is prone to violence."
Poland said he believes legislation should be considered to offer special protection to those in the field of vaccine research.
"Since this affects not only a person and his or her family, but indeed the public health, special provisions should be considered in terms of legal consequences," he said. "This was done, for example, in the case of abortion protesters."
Are we really in the midst of a battle along the lines of that waged around the abortion issue? It's hard to imagine that such could be the case - particularly, at least in my mind, the two issues are very, very different.
The issue of abortion is an ethical issue. Perspectives on abortion revolve around personal faith, moral beliefs, and varying points of view on how to define "the beginning of life." There are no provable rights or wrongs relative to the issue of abortion: it is what it is, and you either do or do not approve.
The issue of vaccines relative to autism is - or surely should be - a scientific issue. IF vaccines have a causal connection to autism, no one in their right mind would suggest that we ignore that reality and simply go ahead and continue to cause autism. IF, on the other hand, vaccines have NO causal connection to autism, no one in their right mind would suggest that we ditch an immunology program that has saved and/or prolonged and improved countless lives.
If there really is a comparison to be made between the abortion issue and the autism/vaccine issue, then it seems to me that the vaccine issue has left the arena of science and entered the arena of faith. Since issues of faith do tend to evoke the intense emotions now prevalent in the autism/vaccine debate, maybe there is something to Poland's concerns. Maybe we really are looking at a faith-based war of ideas - and not at a science-based war of competing (and provable) theories.
And if we really are looking at a faith-based reaction to vaccines, what impact will that have - on our children, on our community, on our public health? Can we, as an autism community, afford to let belief - as opposed to science - guide our actions?
Share your thoughts!