Friday, April 11, 2014

And here's what my letter looks like...

In the post below, I urged you to write to Colorado legislators to express your support of HB1288 and to counteract the anti-vaccine rhetoric with which they've been deluged. Putting my money where my mouth is, here is what I've written. It's not perfect, it's not polished, but it's from the heart. Yours can be too!

Dear Senators,

My name is Ashley Shelby, and I am a mother of two. I am moved to write you today because it has come to my attention that you are receiving a great deal of contact from anti-vaccine parents and activists regarding HB1288, which strengthens immunization rules for the state that will protect children and infants, individuals going through immuno-suppressive therapies like chemotherapy, and the elderly from needless suffering. These anti-vaccine activists often refer to their beliefs as having to do with personal choice, personal liberty, informed consent, and other terms that mask the fact that they want the right to not vaccinate their children while still enjoying the public spaces, like schools, where their decision could harm others. To me, anti-vaccine parents who fight against HB1288 are like people who feel it's their right to shout "fire" in a movie theater, a right which has been denied by courts for decades. Your freedom may not infringe on my safety--and that's exactly what anti-vaccine parents are doing, so far without any obstacles thrown in their path. Their "personal liberty" is making it hard for me to exercise my own.

I am speaking up because these individuals do not represent parents. In fact, they are a vocal fringe group, who have an impact because of the nature of herd immunity. Although the overwhelming majority of parents support vaccines, even if five percent of parents choose not to vaccinate, diseases like measles, mumps, and pertussis gain a foothold in our communities. And they have. You are no doubt aware of the measles clusters in California and New York, the mumps outbreak in Ohio, and the pertussis cases all across the country. The majority of these cases started with and were spread by unvaccinated individuals. 

Please help parents protect their children from vaccine-preventable disease by voting yes to HB1288. Parents still have the right not to vaccinate their children--they just can't send them into schools and day cares. Voting no to HB1288 is not a vote for personal liberty. It's a vote that indicates that people can endanger public health with absolutely no consequence to themselves, and all the risk on the shoulders of people who are forced to share a public space with them. 

Thank you for considering my point of view.

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