Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Digital Activists for Vaccine Awareness


I've seen the argument many times in pro-vax literature that anti-vax folks are negatively influenced by social media, this being the reason they choose to delay or avoid vaccines for their children.

I wondered if this was true, so I conducted a survey via asking vaccine-aware folks about the reason for their stance on vaccines.

The purpose of the survey was to find out how social media has impacted the vaccine-awareness movement and the people who are passionate about it.

I asked four questions:

  • Who Are You?

  • What prompted you to question vaccines?

  • Where do you get your vaccine info?

  • What impact has social media had on this movement?

I posted a link to the survey in vaccine-freedom groups and pages on Facebook.

Here are my results.

  • 78% (50 out of 64) people who answered the survey are parents who either decline, delay, or alter the recommended vaccine schedule for their children.

  • 57% consider themselves activists.

Now, I wonder, why do so many people feel so passionately about this cause? Is it because social media made them do it (as the vaccine-pushers would like people to believe)?

According to the folks who took my survey, social media has impacted the movement in a huge way, enabling people to share information, resources, and links to peer-reviewed studies.

Yet, the reasons most listed for taking the vaccine rights position go much deeper.

  • Eleven of the 64 respondents had experienced vaccine-injury themselves.

  • A whopping 26 people knew someone close to them who had been vaccine-injured or died following a vaccine.

  • Twenty-two respondents knew someone who had been vaccine-injured.

This does not sound like a group of people who were swayed by social media posts.

As Michael Chad said in his blog before it was removed: “What’s missing from the Times’ story is the fact that most parents who don’t vaccinate take that position because they have already sacrificed one of their young for the herd, and no longer feel a civic duty to follow doctor’s orders.”

If you spend some time in vaccine-awareness Facebook groups, you'll find out that people who don't vaccinate, are not only outraged by vaccines...

They are outraged by a corrupt medical establishment. They are outraged by medical kidnapping and forced chemotherapy.

In essence, anti-vaxxers might better be described as Health Freedom Fighters (or Health Freedom Lovers, as I would prefer to call ourselves).

How did we become so strong and committed to the Health Freedom Cause?

According to the website of Unicef of Central and Eastern Europe:

An innovative UNICEF working paper ... provides evidence that parents are actively tapping into social media networks to decide whether to immunize their children. It also details key language and arguments used, as well as the influencers shaping the online conversation. (my emphasis)

How can I get on THAT list? Download the pdf of this report here to read about yourself from a vaccine-pusher's perspective. ;)

While the intent of the paper was to inform vaccine-pushers in their efforts to promote pro-vax propaganda via social media; another study came out indicating that efforts to persuade people in the pro-vax direction were having the opposite effect.

Pro-vax efforts resulted in LESS people vaccinating. Blame it on our demographic!

Those vaccine-pushers must be worried. They're researching us, writing down our names, and brainstorming how to stop us. I say, “Good luck!”

But I am more interested in the people who make up our community. In particular, I want to know how social media has impacted the vaccine rights movement.

The vaccine-awareness movement has exploded on social media, especially on blogs and Facebook, and continues to gain momentum, literally terrifying vaccine-pushers the world over.

Here is a small snapshot of the stories we are sharing (taken from my survey). These individuals were asked what initially prompted them to question vaccines.

Two out of 5 Grandchildren...suffered a decline in their health, lost the twinkle in their eyes, became vacant, weight loss and diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers.

Ended in Hospital sicker than a dog following flu vaccine- wasn't sure if I was going to recover.... funny- haven't received flu vaccine since- and.... have not been sick with the flu- that was approx 7 years ago.

As a Retired RPN who believed in vaccines...I started to LOOK around and see, children everywhere having MELTDOWNS in stores misbehaving, attention disorders. Then Mennonite children...looking, HEALTHY, and well behaved and when I personally SAW the decline in my Grandchildren..Things started to CHANGE for me.

My son became autistic after vaccination.

My son getting sick after vaccinations to enter school and taking me years to fix him and make him a normal functioning child!

My son passed out in the clinic after getting his Kindergarten shot, because, I feel that he got too many. I can't rule out an allergy to one or more so I am going to exempt him from further.

Daughters 1 yr shots caused seizure.

The reaction I got from my doctor when I chose to delay my daughter's 2 month shots. She had a fever and instead of playing safe and waiting until she was better, my Dr chose fear mongering and said she would die if we waited. Also, I asked him what rotarix was and he said "a squirt of water". So i guess his attitude made me question things.

Parent of vaccine injured daughter – Gardasil.

I work in the school system and spoke with many parents who have vaccine-injured children.

My brother died a couple hours after his 2 month needle. They had to shock his heart back to life in the ambulance and he was only a newborn! He's now 16 years old but suffers from short term memory loss and it affects his school but he's doing well.

I received the Dtap per my docs suggestion to protect my grandchild-to-be. Some time after I came across an article on the fact that me being vaccinated would not prevent me from being a carrier. A silent carrier at that. Then I started reading as much as I could get my hands on. As a nurse I did not have trouble weeding out the junk on both sides of the issue.

Death of child due to vaccine-injury.

I watched my first born get sicker and sicker after each round of shots, she also had a mystery rash all over her body until I stopped vaccinating.

Our second son suffered adverse reaction.

I had childhood cancer. Was looking for the reason.

I had a roommate whose son disappeared before her eyes after his vaccinations and has never been the same since.

I had two aunts die of the flu shot in the 90s. I have a good friend that has an autistic child that did a lot of research. I had 3 children that were affected by vaccines, not profoundly, but enough that I knew something was wrong.

My son had a reaction to his 9 month dtap, and I watched him show the most pain I've ever seen him in.

A couple years ago one of my dogs almost died after receiving a vaccine. The second of my dogs has severed vaccinosis as well - from only getting his puppy shots. I started to wonder if it was "normal" and doing my own research. At first I thought the information I was finding couldn't be right, how could vaccines do harm?! However the more I researched the clearer it became (just follow the money). And one day, it just kind of clicked in my brain "what about people, we get vaccines too"?

My sister's son had a reaction. My boss' father was afflicted with guillain barre after a flu shot.

If my small survey is any indication, it seems that vaccine-pushers are correct about one thing. This movement is driven by personal stories. But we are not talking about a handful of stories, shared rampantly throughout social media, as vaccine-pushers suggest.

Contrary to popular belief, Andrew Wakefield is not our only source (although we respect him as a valid one).We are talking about our own stories. Stories of loss, despair, and outrage. Stories of hundreds of hours of research.

Many of us started out trying to prove to ourselves that vaccines are safe, only to be shocked at the stark reality our research makes clear. Vaccines are not safe. Vaccines injure and kill.

I also have a story. I was vaccine-injured in 2008, which resulted in Crohn's Disease and impacts my quality of life daily. Despite pursuing natural treatments, my symptoms continue to be debilitating.

My children, too, experienced vaccine-harm before I got wise. My oldest has a severe learning disability math disorder. My middle boy has terrible food allergies and diagnosis of ADHD. Both were plagued with ear infections as toddlers, asthma, eczema, behavioral and social issues, among other things.

My youngest is unvaccinated and she health issues whatsoever.

But it is not just the experience of vaccine-harm that drives me to speak out on this issue. Like you all, I researched the shit out of this topic.

I am insulted by suggestions that I am an incompetent researcher and that Dr. Google is unreliable. I've cured UTI's, pink eye, and a behavioral disorder affecting one of my children thanks to Dr. Google.

This movement will continue to grow because vaccine-injuries will continue to occur and parents will continue to do the research. Some parents even do the research BEFORE experiencing the vaccine-injury of their child. I wish I was one of those parents.

What we can learn from vaccine-aware health freedom lovers like you all is that personal stories drive a movement. Social media is the vehicle, the tool we use to share our stories. But it is the stories that resonate. Our stories.

For all of us who learned the hard way and those we can prevent from doing the same, this movements for you.

In love and solidarity,

Trina Ricketts

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