After reading the front-page article "Fighting vaccination," I hope and pray that Hollie Redinger and the parents of the 68,000 Illinois children who have skipped vaccines don't have to live through the pain of seeing their child die from a disease that could have been prevented.
As any good journalist knows, you need a powerful anecdote to tell your story. Reporter James Fuller found that in Redinger, who has chosen not to vaccinate her children. "It all goes back to nutrition and general health. We're supposed to be able to fight these illnesses off," she said. Not once in the 80 inches of copy, however, did Fuller present the viewpoint of the many parents who have lost children to vaccine-preventable diseases.
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Fuller needed to look no farther than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to find the compelling story of an unvaccinated 13-month-old who nearly died from chickenpox. The article ended with the child's mother saying, "It never occurred to me just how serious chickenpox could be."
Most of us probably don't think of chickenpox as deadly (especially parents who bring their children to chickenpox parties), but about 100 children died each year from the disease before the varicella vaccine was introduced in 1995.
The flu also is considered merely a nuisance by many parents, but 146 children died from influenza this past year, and about 90 percent of them were unvaccinated, according to the CDC.
Yes, Fuller got a quote from the American Academy of Pediatrics about vaccines being the greatest public health achievement in modern history. But he failed to tell the other side of the story in human terms. He forgot to give a voice to the children who have died from chickenpox, the flu and other diseases that could have been prevented.