By Erin K. Costello
This is an anti-vaccine event disguised as a simple Q&A session for those who may have questions. The guests are all known anti-vaxxers who have helped create and distribute anti-vaccine propaganda over several years. Their agenda is to convince as many parents as they can that the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, is a dangerous and not effective vaccine that should not be given to our children. The reason they want to spread this false and misleading information is because, due to Senate Bill S298B, the HPV vaccine is likely to be added to the list of required vaccinations in order to attend school in New York State. The anti-vaccine advocates do not want their children to have to receive this vaccination. In order to get their way, they need more support. They need more parents. They hope to gain the necessary numbers by spreading lies and creating fear. They also hope to raise some funds, so they can continue to afford their “advocacy.”
However, the reality of their event being cancelled has yet to hit those in the New York State anti-vaccine community. In the Facebook group HPV & FLU SHOT AWARENESS NY, which is a public group by the way, one group member posted their disbelief in the event being cancelled and suggested the screen shots we have been posting to social media showing the hotel’s responses are fake, that we created fake Hilton Facebook pages and wrote to them and then responded to ourselves. Since the replies we shared are in fact genuine, this isn’t much of a concern.
What could be concerning and is also very likely the reason why they believe the event is still scheduled as planned, is that ticket sales are still available. Tickets are being sold through Event Brite, and unless someone updates Event Brite of any changes, the website will not know to stop ticket sales or to change event information. In addition to reaching out to Hilton on Saturday, I also reached out to Event Brite to inform them of the dangers posed by this event. At the bottom right of the event page there’s an option to,“report this event.” I chose to report it under the option “other” since my only goal was to alert the event website what this event was about and the potential harm it could cause.
Please note, I have no say in the business decisions of Event Brite nor do I have any right to tell them how to run their business. I also have no desire to lash out at them, place blame, or threaten their business in any way. I have a right to reach out and voice my concerns to Event Brite, or any business for that matter, and they have a right to hear my concerns or ignore them. But, this is where our rights end on the matter. I hate it when anti-vaccine advocates dog pile on a business through their social media, their place of business and their website because the business won't support their dangerous rhetoric. Because of how much I hate those actions, no matter how much I may disagree with a business, I will respect the decisions made by these businesses. If Event Brite chooses to no longer assist New York Alliance For Vaccine Rights in their ticket sales, then great! If not? At least I tried. What they choose to do is on them, but at least now they have a more complete picture and a better understanding of the weight their decisions could carry.
I can’t speak for the other admin when I say this, but as for myself, I personally do not care if parents decide not to vaccinate their kids. Obviously I’d prefer they took the advice of their doctors regarding the matter, and most doctors in most situations will advice parents to vaccinate their kids. But, if not vaccinating was all there was to this issue I wouldn’t see a reason to become involved in this debate. For granted there wouldn’t be much of a debate if that was all there was to anti-vaxxers, if they quietly made their choice and let that be the end of it all. But, anti-vaxxers do so much more than make this choice. They campaign and recruit as many other parents as possible to join them in spreading false information and refusing vaccinations. They are not remotely qualified to advise anyone medically, and their advice is literally causing children to endure pain and suffering by contracting vaccine preventable diseases. These types of events are dangerous and harmful. They should not be allowed to happen in silence, without so much as a word from those of us who support sound science and medicine. If we are unable to stop such events from happening, then hopefully our dissent can counter the misinformation being shared at these discussions.
What's The Harm?