“I’m not telling (parents) not to vaccinate,” Belkin said. “I think that people should make that decision for themselves after careful consideration,” he said. But, he said after doing his own years’ worth of research, “I would have to be a total idiot to vaccinate my children.”
Saying no to shots? A growing number of Kitsap parents are choosing against vaccination
‘Vaccine objectors — often affluent and educated — fear links between vaccines and autism, other developmental disabilities, illness and death.
A panel of the Institute of Medicine concluded this week after an analysis of past research that side effects caused by vaccines are rare, and that there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism.
But such research isn’t convincing to parents like Michael Belkin of Bainbridge Island.
Belkin became a critic of vaccines in 1998 following the death of his five-week old daughter the night she received a hepatitis B vaccine booster shot.
His son, 10, and daughter, 7, are not vaccinated.
“Nothing is going to bring my daughter back, but other people started contacting me” relating similar stories, he said. “One thing led to another.”
He used his skills as a Wall Street financial analyst to look at immunization data and medical reports. He questioned their validity and testified before Congress.
Belkin has also started an advocate band called The Refusers, with his son on drums, to highlight problems he sees with vaccine regulation and the credibility of medical organizations recommending them.
He questioned why a New York City coroner wouldn’t note on his daughter’s death certificate that her brain was swollen — a possible but rare side effect of the vaccine.
“All they care about is saying that they’re worried that people won’t take vaccines so they’re not honest about the risks of vaccines,” he said …
“In my [20-year] career, … I have never see a child die of a vaccine, and I have seen a child die of these diseases,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, director of Kitsap County Health District …
But Lindquist said he has no problem with people who choose not to vaccinate.
“I see the value in vaccination. I see the danger in not vaccinating their children … but I respect people’s individual choice to choose or not to choose a vaccine,” Lindquist said.
A new Washington state law enacted in July intends to make exemptions tougher, and it requires parents to get a signature from a health care provider confirming that they’ve gotten information about the benefits of vaccination.
“You can exempt from immunizations, you just have to show that you understand the risks and the benefits. And I think that’s fair,” Lindquist said.
In some cases in the past, parents may have simply filled out an exemption form because they didn’t have the records with them when registering or didn’t have time to get immunizations before school started.
“The law really makes sure that exemptions are based on convictions rather than conveniences,” Malone said.
Belkin was among a group of people who protested the bill during this year’s legislative session, believing there shouldn’t be more obstacles to a parent’s right to choose.
But Belkin stressed that it’s about choice — not about stopping vaccinations. He’s not against standard medicine.
“I’m not telling (parents) not to vaccinate,” Belkin said.
“I think that people should make that decision for themselves after careful consideration,” he said.
But, he said after doing his own years’ worth of research, “I would have to be a total idiot to vaccinate my children.”
He wrote a chapter for a recently released book on vaccine concerns. He contends that pharmaceutical companies assert an extraordinary amount of influence in getting vaccines approved and in persuading health officials to recommended or states to require them.
In the book, he likens lawmakers’ good-intentioned efforts to require vaccines to the United States’ covert effort to in the 1980s to arm the anti-Soviet mujahedeen force in Afghanistan. That led to the rise of the Taliban.
Belkin wants his children develop a natural immunity. He’s a fanatic about his kids’ nutrition, giving them fish oil and probiotics as part of their dietary regimen, he said.
To protect both them and others, when they’re sick, they stay home.
And his son and daughter are healthy, he said.’