From the June 2000 Idaho Observer:

August 2000 Vaccination Debate Canceled

SANDPOINT -- A vaccination debate, scheduled for August, 2000, and organized by the North Idaho Chapter of Vaccination Liberation (VacLib), had to be cancelled due to area pro-vaccinators' unwillingness to participate in this type of forum. The proposed debate was organized in response to April 21 Sandpoint Vaccination Forum attendees who, with a show of hands, overhwelmingly expressed their interest in seeing such an event.

On May 16, twenty area hospitals, clinics, physician's offices and the Panhandle Health District were sent faxes requesting their participation in a pro-vaccination panel followed by the debate parameters. It was also requested that they respond no later than June 1, 2000. To date there have been two responses: Jeanne Bock of the Panhandle Health District and Dr. Joyce Gilbert of Sandpoint Pediatrics.

Both offices declined participation in the proposed vaccination debate. Dr. Gilbert admitted in her letter that the original purpose of the forum was to encourage the community to come and learn more about the benefits of vaccination. She even mentioned how they specifically invited some older community members to share stories about their vaccine-preventable diseases.

She ended her letter stating, “Our concern is that this type of debate would be antagonistic rather than educational. Our goal is to uplift and build our community, rather than tear it apart.”

Panhandle Health District official Bock stated that the debate platform is not productive in achieving change. Both Bock and Dr. Gilbert believe that an educated decision is best made by discussing vaccinations in a one-on-one setting with the patient's personal physician or health care provider.

VacLib President Ingri Cassel anticipated this type of response since similar scenarios have been repeated in other communities in both the U.S. and Canada. “I have been thinking about this for years and specifically formatted the debate to be as fair as possible, giving plenty of time for both panels to prepare their answers to presubmitted questions originating from each panel. The con-vaccine panel was even prepared to let the pro side pick the time, place and the moderator,” explained Cassel.

Scott Pattison, editor of the British Columbia Penticton Herald attempted to “encourage healthy debate” in western Canada by publishing a three-part series on vaccines. When he contacted local health officials for input and comment, they politely declined, saying that their policy was not to engage in vaccine debates.

“We are living in a time when increasing numbers of people are justifiably concerned about the safety and efficacy of vaccines,” commented Cassel, who finds it frustrating that the people responsible for a public health policy that forces vaccination will not, or cannot, debate the issue in public.

“When you think about it, why would pro-vaccinators risk their current position by participating in a debate?” Cassel asked. “After all, they have the police powers of the state behind them and their livelihoods depend on a majority following the prevailing view that diseases are scarey and must be fought with an arsenal of drugs that only the pharmaceutical industry has the priviledge to dispense,” she added.

The need for VacLib to organize a vaccine debate locally became apparent after several people in attendance expressed concern that they are not able to make truly informed choices on this issue since educational materials given to patients is basically sales literature published by the manufacturers of vaccines. “In fact, after the April 21 forum, an elderly woman who had shared her history of suffering from 'vaccine preventable' diseases was approached after the forum with the list of common ingredients used in vaccine production. After all these years the woman was shocked when she read the list and said, 'These ingredients should not be in our vaccines. We need to change this!'” Cassel said.

For more information on vaccinations from independent sources contact Vaccination Liberation at P.O. Box 1444, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83816; email:

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Hari Heath

Vaccination Liberation -

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