May 2, 2014
Who, in their right mind, would subject babies and young children to life-threatening disease and life-altering illness?
Turns out, many — millions, worldwide, in fact, for reasons of religious beliefs, ill-starred personal ‘ethical’ reasons, or simply listening to the cockamamy pronouncements of B-list celebrities.
Anne Geddes is a world-renowned photographer whose images are most famous for posing babies in some of the most adorable poses. You’ve seen them — kiddies in cabbage leaves, babes in bee costumes.
But, Geddes has taken on a stunning new project called Protecting our Tomorrows — a photo essay that includes images of 15 children who survived, but have been forever scarred and changed, by their exposure to the meningococcal virus. It can be prevented through childhood vaccinations.
The powerful photo essay, available as a free download on the iBook Store, is a graphic statement that parents who, for whatever reason, do not vaccinate their children using the recommended childhood vaccinations by schools, states and countries that have modern protocols in place for their populations, are exposing their loved ones to horrific consequences ranging from polio, rubella (German measles), diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and a host of other easily preventable diseases.
Geddes’ work focused on the ravages of the often fatal bacterial infection of meningococcal. It can and does cause gangrene that results in the loss of limbs, if not killing the child.
An example of the text that accompanies the deeply moving images:
(Age 5 years, Spain)
“When she was 4 years old, Victoria, known by her friends and family as Vicky, suffered the loss of both her legs due to meningococcal septicemia. At 5 years old, Vicky is still healing from the great impact of her experience with meningococcal disease.”
As Geddes said, “As a photographer and mother, it was incredibly moving to meet these young people and see firsthand the impact that meningococcal disease has had on their lives. I feel privileged to be joining these survivors and their families, not just to raise awareness, but to highlight their powerful stories of resilience and also honor those who have tragically lost their lives to the disease. Meningococcal disease is a sudden, aggressive illness that can lead to death within 24 hours of onset. Babies, toddlers and adolescents are the most vulnerable, with infants under 12 months of age at greatest risk.”
As she describes, “Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease series is a global initiative aimed at raising awareness among parents regarding the threat of meningococcal disease and the importance of its prevention.”
That prevention? Vaccination.
To see the ravages inflicted on the youngsters who were not vaccinated against the disease, they’re viewable on her website, but a warning: while moving, they are difficult to look at, knowing the effects could easily be prevented.
All 50 states in the United States require some immunizations for school entry (typically for kindergarten, seventh grade, and college entry). However, parents can elect to exempt their children from immunizations for health reasons.
A variety of exemptions are allowed, depending on state and local regulations. Mississippi and West Virginia are the only states to offer only medical exemptions to vaccination. In other states, medical, religious, and often philosophical/personal belief exemptions are available.
Forty-eight states allow exemptions to vaccination for religious reasons. Some states’ statutes indicate that to receive a religious exemption, a family must belong to a religious group with bona fide objections to vaccination. They may, as Iowa does, ask a parent to attest that “immunization conflicts with a genuine and sincere religious belief and that the belief is in fact religious, and not based merely on philosophical, scientific, moral, personal, or medical opposition to immunizations.” Other states simply require that a parent sign a form stating that he or she has religious objections to vaccination.
Twenty states allow exemptions to children whose parents have philosophical or personal objections to vaccination. In most cases, parents must file a one-time or annual form with a school district attesting to a personal objection to vaccination.
Dr. John Snyder is Medical Director of the teaching clinic at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and assistant professor of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. Previously, he was chief of the Section of General Pediatrics and Medical Director of Pediatric Ambulatory Care at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York City.
Snyder wrote an extensive piece entitled The New Plague that was posted on the Gotham Skeptic on the perils of ignoring vaccinations and the popular myths of vaccines.
When he was a pediatrician living and working in New York, Snyder found new parents were often confused about vaccinations for their babies. He observed that, as diseases and conditions that are now rare because of widespread vaccination protocols, some parents have fallen prey to listening to some of the crazy theories about effects of vaccinations and even that they are considering having their babies exempted from vaccines.
“A common question I get is “what’s your philosophy about vaccines?” My response to this question is something along the lines of, “well, it’s not a matter of philosophy. It’s actually a matter of science, and I follow what the science tells us.” In fact, I can’t remember the last prenatal visit that didn’t include at least one question about vaccines. What in the past was a given — that children would receive the vaccines recommended by their pediatrician, in the order that they were recommended — is no longer so for many parents today . This bedrock of pediatric care has been recast as a question, an uncertainty, a matter of opinion and debate. It is a dangerous new dynamic that seriously threatens the safety of our children. Many parents have vague concerns about unspecified risks, but in general need only reassurance to go forward with vaccinating their children. Some parents have specific concerns based on information gathered from friends, acquaintances, on the Internet, or in the media. Some have fears about vaccines in general, or the number of vaccines given, and are less easily reassured. Some parents are ardently opposed to vaccines altogether, and refuse to have their children vaccinated at all.”
Writing further on the subject on the website Science Based Medicine, Snyder believes there needs to be a much more concerted media campaign to help dissuade parents considering opting out of vaccinations for their children. He bases the argument solely on scientific evidence that vaccines have helped eradicate and lessen the frequency of some of the most horrible childhood diseases and conditions.
“The rate with which parents are making such decisions for their children … around the country is truly frightening. It is a movement away from science and reason that warrants much more attention than it has received so far. That includes attention and action from the media, from science and health organizations, physicians groups, and from parents as well.”
Actress Jenny McCarthy is best known for her blonde hair, her pretty looks, her shapely form and, well, er, not much else really, other than the fact millions of Americans admire and look up to her for her star status.
The 41-year old claims that her son’s autism was caused by vaccines and she has said she was able to cure her son of the disorder by using alternative treatments, such as dietary changes.
McCarthy, who stars on The View television program, believes the current vaccine schedule for babies as “too bloated” and says studies must be done to ensure the safety of vaccine ingredients.
But, what to make of McCarthy’s whackadoodle insistence that vaccinations led to the autism diagnosis of her child?
Snyder vehemently torpedoes the claim. In his piece in Science Based Medicine, he summed it up thusly: “(N)ot a single shred of valid scientific evidence has ever been put forth to support a causal link between vaccines and autism. However, volume upon volume of excellent, peer-reviewed data has unequivocally shown no such a linkage…”
Simply, we are living in an age that, in the developed world, where the majority of us have grown complacent with the horrible health ravages of diseases that are easily preventable.
We choose to believe half-baked pseudo-science, home-grown medicine shamans and even minor celebrities when they tell us science doesn’t know best for us, that medicine has not got it right and that our babies will be just fine should we feed and water them properly.
Sadly, those who can’t fight for themselves, the children themselves, have no say in the matter.
Chris Malette is a retired newspaper journalist with 35 years of experience as a reporter and city editor. Over his career, Malette covered municipal and federal politics, military, health and court beats. He has reported from Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti and covered relief efforts in Honduras in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. He now works for SPN News as an editorial columnist.