As misinformation and fears surrounding vaccines have spread, the number of people abusing nonmedical vaccine loopholes has increased in recent years. This has tragically resulted in outbreaks of dangerous diseases that previously were almost entirely eradicated thanks to immunizations. Andrew Wakefield’s dishonest and fraudulent research claiming a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism is a case in point.
Wakefield was barred from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom in 2010, but he continues to defend his fraudulent research and claims to be fighting “against an industry that dominates the media and continues to shred vital research material in a desperate attempt to bury the autism controversy under decades of vaccine propaganda.” In July, he participated in a protest against California’s Senate Bill 277 which eliminated the state’s nonmedical exemption for vaccines. And on , Wakefield will keynote a conference at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C.
Organizers of the conference claim it “will change your perspective about health care choices for your family.” And that’s exactly what we should fear. Our choices have consequences. Another scheduled speaker, Greg Brannon, is a Cary, N.C. physician and former Republican primary candidate for the U. S. Senate in 2014. Brannon says he is fighting for “the rights of parents to refuse or delay vaccinating their children.”
Outbreaks of whooping cough have been occurring all across North Carolina over the past few years, and a few cases of mumps and at least one case of measles have now been reported. Nonmedical vaccine exemptions are putting our children and community at great risk for deadly, contagious diseases. Children who cannot be vaccinated because they are too young or have certain medical conditions depend on the immunity of their peers and surrounding community to protect them. That's why mandatory vaccine laws seek to make as many people immune to these diseases as possible.
A bill to enact stricter immunization requirements was filed in the North Carolina General Assembly in March, but it was pulled by its sponsors within just a few weeks. The Secular Coalition for North Carolina calls on our state legislators to put kids first and pass a bill eliminating nonmedical vaccine exemptions. We are working to build an inclusive, diverse coalition to show North Carolina legislators that nonmedical exemptions are a serious public health issue of concern to doctors, parents, faith communities, and the secular community in our state. Join us today at Secular.org/Put-Kids-First.
The Secular Coalition for North Carolina, a state chapter of the Secular Coalition for America, facilitates unity and cooperation between various local secular groups in North Carolina, represents secular values in the North Carolina General Assembly on key issues of special concern to our constituency, and works with other local NC organizations and coalitions where common ground exists on specific issues.