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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sunday, March 8th 2015 - HB 2009 Information & Activism Meeting

Here's our poster about an event we are offering in our community.
HB 2009 represents the best intentions of a few legislators who believe that,
to improve public health, we must lose civil rights and medical flexibility.
We disagree that these sacrifices are necessary. We reason that HB 2009 
will, in fact, lead to myriad unintended consequences & harm public health.
For these reasons:
We Oppose HB 2009.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Radio Interview w/ Sarah Collins Honenberger

When you come to Vaccines and Beyond, you mostly find blog posts that have been co-written by March Twisdale and Karen Crisalli Winter. This blog post is just from March Twisdale.


In my other life, I am an actopian fiction writer and local radio show host. 

The focus of my show, Prose, Poetry & Purpose is interviewing authors who inspire positive social change in the reader at a time.

Last year, I had the opportunity to interview Sarah Collins Honenburger about her novel, White Lies. Previously a lawyer, Sarah based White Lies upon her real life experience representing a family with a vaccine injured child...and the three years it took for them to win a dispensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

As Sarah and her husband fully vaccinated their child & had no problems, she brings to the conversation a lawyer’s remarkably clear-sighted perspective, unmarred by personal tragedy or strong bias. 

I encourage you to give the show a listen: 

                                                  Sarah Collins Honenberger

~ March Twisdale

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Karen & March Discuss Vaccines & HB 2009 w/ Anita Kissee on The Impact

This week, we were pleased to meet with Anita Kissee, producer and host of The Impact, a televised show focused on what's happening in Olympia and how legislation "impacts" the rest of the state.

You can watch our interview here:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Karen Crisalli Winter's Letter to WA State Legislators re: HB 2009

To whom it should concern,

I am strongly opposed to HB 2009, but perhaps not for the reason you think. I believe HB 2009 will drive people away from vaccines.

HB 2009 would maintain the freedom to refuse all vaccines. It would take away the freedom to accept some vaccines. This is bad for public health.

Right now, the state of Washington has three exemptions: medical, religious, and philosophical/personal.

The medical exemption is hard to access. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on doctors not to offer medical exemptions. This leaves parents with medical concerns in a dilemma. They must try to locate one of the few doctors who offers custom vaccine schedules ... or they can easily find a genuinely anti-vaccine doctor.

The religious exemption is easy to access. You just have to join the religion that forbids all vaccinations. If you want some vaccinations, though, you're out of luck. To the best of my knowledge, there is no religion that has an individualized vaccine schedule as part of the creed.

The Philosophical/Personal exemption is the only exemption that truly protects freedom of choice. It gives the parents the right to say no. It also gives the parents the right to say yes. It also gives the parents the right to say maybe. It protects informed consent and protects the rights of parents to change their minds.

My children are vaccinated against measles because of the Philosophical/Personal Exemption. If we had not had access to the Philosophical/Personal Exemption, my children would probably not be vaccinated against measles. Freedom of choice allowed us to choose the MMR despite concerns about some of the other vaccines.

For the sake of public health, we need an option that allows parents to selectively vaccinate.

Don't push parents away from vaccines. Vote NO on HB 2009.

Monday, February 16, 2015

March Twisdale's Letter to WA Legislators re: HB 2009

Dear ____________________________,

While you may not directly represent my district, in your role as a member of the Health & Wellness Committee, you represent me as a resident of Washington State. 

As such, I am writing to explain why I believe HB 2009 is a phenomenal step in the wrong direction with regard to improving public health in our state.

To begin with, wanting to force people to do the “right thing” is as understandable as it is misguided. In this case, coercing medical choices is absolutely unethical, as it prevents patients from being able to give “informed consent,” which all medical practitioners are required to obtain prior to performing a medical procedure. Consent can only occur in a non-coercive environment, and threatening individuals’ livelihoods or their access to education introduces a persistent and inherent coercive force.

From the medical perspective, we cannot avoid the fact that every vaccine is different, every disease is different, every person is different and every situation is different. This is why good medicine requires flexibility. HB 2009 will tie medical practitioners’ hands, eliminating their ability to fully engage in the practice of medicine. Fundamentally, mandates (without readily available exemption options) significantly interfere with the doctor/patient relationship and undermine the growing trend in cooperative health care. 

It is true that we all have a responsibility to minimize the spread of disease within our communities, whether vaccinated or not.  If you're going to legislate something, legislate paid sick leave for all workers. For most contagious illnesses, we have no vaccine. Imagine the tremendous public health benefits of making it economically possible for every resident of Washington State to stay home when sick, or to care for a sick child! 

On the political side of things, HB 2009 sends a clear message that our temporarily elected officials believe doctors and patients are incapable of making good medical decisions. This is wrong and dangerous thinking.

What we have been seeing, in the past few decades, is a shift in decision-making methods. In the past, most people were Delegators. They left decision-making up to the experts. “Hey doc, tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” Today, in the highly educated and well-informed state of Washington, we see a significant increase in Questioners. These are people who seek out expert advice to supplement their own research on the way to making their own decision.

Unfortunately, public health messaging hasn’t kept up with this shift. What works well for a Delegator (who is seeking someone to trust) does not work well for a Questioner (who is seeking detailed information and scientific data). In our advancing society, over-simplified public health messaging is old school and has weakened the credibility of public health authorities. Additionally, the five year plan put in place by our legislature roughly six years ago has substantially (and intentionally) increased the hostility and rancor between residents of our state, further reducing credibility. 

In order to recover the good will and trust that has been lost over the past six years, we need a better education campaign, not an attack on our basic human liberties.

March Twisdale

Philosophical Exemption Threatened - Talking Points

In the state of Washington, vaccination is mandatory for entrance into school or licensed child care, unless parents choose an exemption. At present, there are three possible exemptions: Medical, Religious, or Philosophical/Personal.

There is currently a bill being considered in the Washington State House of Representatives which would eliminate the Philosophical/Personal exemption.

You can learn more about HB 2009 at this link:

We are contacting our legislators to express why we think this bill would damage public health in Washington state. Here are some concise talking points. Feel free to share at will. 


Talking Point #1 
Every vaccine is different, every disease is different, every person is different, every situation is different. This is why good medicine requires flexibility. 

Talking Point #2  
Informed consent is to medical ethics what freedom of speech is to democracy.  These are core freedoms that protect us all. 

Talking Point #3 
The trouble with mandates is that they interfere with the doctor/patient relationship and prevent cooperative healthcare. HB 2009 sends the message that our legislators think doctors and patients are incapable of making their own medical decisions.

Talking Point #4  
Vaccines are powerful medicine. But overconfidence can cause as much harm as underconfidence. As such, good medicine depends upon both critical thinking and informed consent. 

Talking Point #5 
We all have a responsibility to our community to minimize the spread of disease, whether vaccinated or not.  If we're going to legislate something, let's legislate paid sick leave for all workers.

Talking Point #6  
We are seeing a general shift toward patients and doctors working as a team to sort through the complex decisions involved in all forms of healthcare, not just vaccines. As such, we need to strengthen trust and cooperation between patients and their doctors. Mandates assume that doctors and patients cannot be trusted. This is a bad precident to set.

Talking Point #7  
In America, we value our inherent right to decide what happens to our body. 

Talking Point #8  
State law is clear on four points:
  1. The state must make ample provisions for education.
  2. Education is compulsory for all children.
  3. Medical providers are required to obtain informed consent.
  4. Education at public and private schools is conditional upon proof of vaccination. 
These four requirements don’t conflict because of the philosophical exemption. However, if the philosophical exemption is removed, medical & educational rights come into direct conflict. This is unacceptable, because rights are rights. They aren’t bargaining chips.  You can’t demand that citizens trade one right for another.

Talking Point #9  
The important thing to consider is not what people decide, but how they decide.  Some people want to find a trustworthy expert and follow instructions.  Let’s call those folks Delegators.  Some people want to make their own decisions, after taking expert advice into account.  Let’s call those folks Questioners.  Over the past few decades, there has been a notable shift from Delegators to Questioners, as education levels have increased. Because most of our public health messaging is aimed at Delegators we now have a problem.  Questioners want a lot more data and current public health messaging is just not meeting that need.

Talking Point #10  
Sometimes when we try to fix one problem we create a dozen more. This bill will do exactly that. Coercing family medical choices should not be a public health strategy. Vaccines are useful, but they are not our only tool when it comes to disease management. Promoting trust and building understanding are far more powerful and need to be better utilized. 

Talking Point #11  
The philosophical exemption is important because it provides flexibility for doctors and patients to work together to craft an individually appropriate vaccine schedule.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Welcome back to Vaccines & Beyond (what you'll find here)

From time to time, the unresolved and complicated questions swirling around the impact of vaccine medical choices are triggered. When this happens...

Many people fall into remembering and repeating what they've heard before.
Many people jump on a familiar bandwagon & start swinging before they start thinking.
Many people injure their relationships with others in their community.

And really, much to most of this is unnecessary and unhelpful. If you have come to our blog...

Chances are, you're looking for a better way to talk about this important topic.
Chances are, you're a reporter and are researching your next story.
Chances are, you're surprised to hear someone discuss this topic in a calm & interested way.

Because, that's what Karen and I are. Interested. In fact, we find vaccine medicine to be utterly fascinating! This topic touches upon many vitally important sub-topics or related topics, such as:

Informed consent & medical ethics
Adult bullying
Understanding statistics & recognizing bias
Communication issues in social media forums
Liberty, power & history
Scientific thinking vs belief-based thinking
Propaganda, education & limited Resources
Western medicine, eastern medicine, emergency medicine, preventative medicine
The role of laws, regulations & court rulings
Efforts to silence the minority voice & the dangers of majority thinking

And the list goes on. So, welcome to our blog. Most of our posts reflect current information, but we have taken a step back since this past Summer. If there is a topic you have questions about, ask! We will get back to you as soon as we can. This means, we'll need to find time in our busy lives AND we'll need to do significant research to ensure we trust our answers. It might take a few days or a week.

Until then, let the angry words flow past you like the wind. Choose your own words to grow relationships, not stunt them. And remember that there is always more to learn.

~March & Karen

Vaccines, Vashon Island & March in the News...

Hello all!

Updated news about the current conversations around vaccine medicine...coming to you from me, March Twisdale. I spoke with Nina Shapiro of Seattle Weekly earlier in the week...and I was interviewed by King 5 News today.

Watch here:

Overall, excellent conversations around the various issues that come up around Vaccine Medicine.

Also talking with The Seattle Times on Thursday and another journalist is interviewing both Karen and I for a magazine that discusses issues important to medical doctors...that's on Wednesday.  (Karen is a lovely interview candidate, but news agencies seem to like to focus on Vashon Island, so she gets less calls...wish they delved into her mind a bit more often!)

A busy week, all told! might be wondering... 
WHAT do I focus on, when being interviewed?

(1) How trust is lost when people in positions of authority simplify a complex subject and get "caught" in the lie. (This can happen at either end of the spectrum.)
(2) The importance of acknowledging the growing epidemic of neurological conditions, auto-immune conditions, and other chronic illnesses, including - but most definitely not limited to - Autism Spectrum Disorder. Given the increase in these conditions, overall parental concerns deserve our respect.
(3) The validity of being concerned about "environmental factors" with regard to this epidemic. We go to great lengths to discourage tuna & alcohol for pregnant women, smoking in homes with children, washing fruits & vegetables to decrease pesticide residues, etc. But, for some reason, we don't validate concerns about the increased number of vaccines being injected into newborns and very young children who are still developing both their brains and their immune system. Why?
(4) Focusing our attention on HOW people make their decisions rather than WHAT they decide, because our thinking process matters. Whether you inherently question everything or prefer to delegate to an authority figure or simply believe what your trusted childhood doctor told we arrive at a decision matters.
(5) The negative impact of polarization, including "birds of a feather flocking together," which results in people being offered consistently re-affirming information for their particular perspective. This lack of diversity reduces our ability to grow and evolve in our understanding, etc.
(6) Bringing the focus back to SCIENCE. When I was asked, "why do you think people on Vashon believe as they do?" I corrected the question, saying we shouldn't assume that people act upon a "belief." People are making a "choice" and the question is, "what has led to their decision?"

Remember...vaccine science is science, and that means
questions are always a good idea!

NOTE: this post is written by March about her week's experiences and has not
been co-written with Karen Crisalli Winter. As such, March is solely responsible
for the content of this post.