Tag: Harlem Vaccine Forum

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

It’s a big deal that anti-vax groups are targeting minority communities.

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

Some of these communities already have low vaccination rates and have been hit with outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

Unfortunately, Bobby Kennedy and the latest Harlem Vaccine Forum isn’t the first time this has happened.

Remember when Andy Wakefield, JB Handley, and others targeted Somali immigrants in Minnesota?

How about when opponents of new vaccine laws in California targeted Latinos in the community?

Why is this a problem?

“Q: I do have a question, on behalf of the Hispanic media, and also the African-American media. Rates for vaccinations have been historically low. Could you tell us what those communities can do to try and raise those rates, please? And also, the issues that they’re facing?

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, MD: I think it’s very important that, number one, we reach out in ways to communicate with the minority communities in our country, and that we work with the leadership of those communities to actually educate those communities, bring them in, and to provide access, so that we can actually extend the benefit of vaccination to them. Colleagues?

PATRICIA WHITLEY-WILLIAMS, MD: I would certainly agree with that. I also would say, I am a member of the National Medical Association, which is an association predominantly of African-American physicians. We know about the disparities, with regards to vaccination coverage rates, both in adults and in children. But we also know about the deaths and severity of disease related to flu and pneumococcal infections; there is a disparity there, in terms of hospitalizations and deaths among underrepresented minorities in this country.

It is through education. It also depends on that relationship between adult patients and their providers. Again, there should be no opt-out. Patients need to understand that they’re tremendously at risk, and there is a disparity. As I think we all know, there is a historical context and a belief that exists in the African-American community, in terms of maybe mistrust of the medical system, because of experimentation that had gone on earlier. And again, it’s trying to provide that information and education through providers.”

National Foundation For Infectious Diseases (NFID) September 26, 2019

It is well known that many minority communities have low immunization rates.

“Since 1995, annual estimates of MMR vaccination coverage and poliovirus vaccination coverage increased among all children aged 19–35 months, and since 2007, disparities between racial/ethnic minorities and non-Hispanic white children for these vaccines has been nonexistent.”

Reduction of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Vaccination Coverage, 1995–2011

Tragically, we are losing many of the gains that we had recently seen in reducing the gaps in vaccination among some racial/ethnic groups.

“HPV vaccine follow-through is lower in racial and ethnic minorities than Whites.”

Spencer et al on Disparities and reverse disparities in HPV vaccination: A systematic review and meta-analysis

In addition to children and teens, we are seeing growing disparities among adults too.

“On further examination, it is evident that some populations receive vaccinations at a level below other populations. For instance, 31% of Hispanic individuals received influenza vaccine in 2014 compared to 34.4% of African American and 46% of White Americans. This difference is also apparent in populations that receive pneumococcal and herpes zoster vaccines. These differences represent disparities in the use of nationally recommended vaccines.”

Anthony Pattin on Disparities in the Use of Immunization Services Among Underserved Minority Patient Populations and the Role of Pharmacy Technicians: A Review

We must continue to work to remove barriers to access to vaccination and encourage providers in these communities to get the message out that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

“There are many Latino and African-American physicians who have a practice that predominantly serves a population of the same ethnicity. We really rely on those providers to help us get the word out, as the press will. These patients trust their providers. We also need to involve community-based organizations to help us in getting the message out as well.”

Patricia Whitley-Williams, MD

Providers, especially in those communities that are being targeted, can improve vaccination rates by:

  • using standing orders, especially during flu season
  • using reminder and recall systems so that everyone knows when they are due for their vaccines
  • providing consumer-oriented information about vaccines to help overcome any negative perceptions, misinformation, and fears parents might have

Don’t allow anti-vaccine propaganda and misinformation to infect your community and make your job harder or put your kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease.

More on Vaccines and Minority Communities

The Harlem Vaccine Forum

It isn’t a surprise that anti-vax folks will be hosting a vaccine forum in New York and that Bobby Kennedy is a part of it.

Why is Rev. Al Sharpton associated with the anti-vax Harlem Vaccine Forum?

It is a surprise to many that Rev. Al Sharpton is participating though.

The Harlem Vaccine Forum

Wait, how do we know that this is an anti-vax forum?

It's no surprise that they took the vaccines are dangerous link off the new flyer...
It’s no surprise that they took the vaccines are dangerous link off the new flyer…

The website for the event organizer is named vaccines are dangerous!

Did the Harlem AIDS Forum change anyone's understanding of HIV/AIDS?
Did the Harlem AIDS Forum change anyone’s understanding of HIV/AIDS?

A website and organizer who promotes the idea HIV is not the cause of AIDS!!!

Yes, HIV denialism is a thing…

Mothering no longer publishes a print magazine, but still has active anti-vaccine forums. How many HIV+ mothers listened to her advice?
Mothering no longer publishes a print magazine, but still has active anti-vaccine forums. How many HIV+ mothers listened to her advice?

Don’t recognize the name Christine Marjorie?

That’s because he really means Christine Maggiore.

Christine Maggiore spoke at the Harlem AIDS Forum in 1998. Her daughter, Eliza Jane, was born three years later.

Christine Maggiore, “the notorious AIDS denialist who barely escaped felony charges in 2006 after her baby died untreated for HIV, has herself succumbed to the disease she claimed did not exist.”

She died in 2008.

“Dr. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica pediatrician who had treated Eliza Jane since she was a year old, said he should have demanded she be tested for the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, when, 11 days before she died, Maggiore brought her in with an apparent ear infection.”

HIV skeptic faces child’s death

Her daughter, Eliza Jane Scovill, died with AIDS related pneumonia in 2005.

And now the same folks who were pushing misinformation in a forum about HIV are holding a forum about vaccines to scare people away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Or I should say another forum about vaccines pushing misinformation…

“…Reverend Sharpton’s National Action Network will host the Harlem Vaccine Forum at its 106 West 145th St. headquarters at noon. Medical doctors, holistic health practitioners, lawyers, activists and parents will discuss recent changes in New York’s vaccine laws that have a dramatic and disproportionate impact on African American families and their rights to religious practice, education and parental rights.”

Mary Holland on New York’s repeal of the religious exemption to vaccines: what it means for African American families

Misinformation from “medical doctors, holistic health practitioners, lawyers, activists and parents” targeting African American families that might already have lower vaccination rates.

“Compared with white children, black children had lower coverage with ≥3 and ≥4 doses of DTaP, the primary and full series of Hib, ≥3 and ≥4 doses of PCV, ≥2 doses of HepA, the completed rotavirus vaccine series, and the 7-vaccine series (Table 2).”

Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19–35 Months — United States, 2016

Maybe Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the Harlem Vaccine Forum should focus on that issue…

“I do not believe in silencing people, because to silence people means to assume that I am so gullible that I am going to believe something because I hear it. If everyone is heard, then everyone can make their own decision.”

Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem HIV Forum

While he obviously doesn’t believe all of the ideas of the people that appear at his meetings, rallies, and forums, he would hopefully realize that providing these speakers with a platform to push their false ideas about vaccines creates the impression with many people that they have equal weight with the opinions of experts.

That gets in the way of the message that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are necessary.

More on the The Harlem Vaccine Forum