September 27, 2010
The Science, Ethics and Politics of Vaccine Mandates
(when you assume that vaccines are safe)
Written by Louise Habakus
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY
This is a long post but I encourage you to read my remarks. Compulsory vaccination represents a severe limitation of our human, civil, individual and parental rights. It is very important to understand the arguments and justifications for vaccine mandates offered by doctors and public health officials. While the public health system usually appears anonymous and impersonal, a conference like the one I attended this week is an opportunity to see the individuals behind the system. The people who participated in the program are among the leaders upholding vaccine mandates in our country.
On Tuesday, September 21, 2010, I attended a full day conference on the Science, Ethics and Politics of Vaccine Mandates. The event took place on the University of Pennsylvania campus, in the Biomedical Research Building. Conference sponsors were the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the University of Pennsylvania Health System (HUP), the Society for Health Care Epidemiology of America, and the Center for Vaccine Ethics and Policy. Click HERE for the program. Organizers and participants included including Paul Offit (CHOP), Arthur Caplan (Director of the Center for Bioethics), Dan Salmon (Department of Health and Human Services, Vaccine Safety) and Eddy Bresnitz (former New Jersey Health Commissioner, now head of adult vaccines at Merck).
Although there was a “waitlist,” the room was not full; there were fewer than 100 people in attendance. They reserved the first row for press and none came, as far as I could tell. With the exception of some panel members, a friend who joined me, and Susan Kreider – an RN who was crippled (Guillain-Barre) by the vaccines she was mandated to receive while in nursing school twenty years ago – I didn’t recognize anyone there. I sat in the second row.
The Presumption of Safety
The most striking feature of the conference was the assumption on the part of the Center for Bioethics that vaccines are safe. With a presumption of safety, they would not address many of the significant concerns underlying vaccine mandates.
Yet, on its website, the Center for Bioethics describes its mission as:
The field of bioethics… provides a practical language… and a means for our society to talk about its deepest moral concerns, fears and hopes. The Center employs this language to promote scholarly and public understanding of the ethical, legal, social and public policy implications of advances in the life sciences and medicine. It fosters informed dialogue about these issues across a broad spectrum of opinions that not only are the right questions addressed, but that the answers given rest upon solid facts and cogent arguments… [We] engage in careful analysis, thoughtful reflection, and foster public discussion about the critical biomedical questions that put our traditions and values to the test. [Emphasis is mine]