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Sunday, April 14, 2019

PEACH: Language and Tactics of an Antivax Group

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.   This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing disease to spread.

Claudia Koerner and Julia Reinstein at Buzzfeed:
PEACH, formally known as Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health, has been circulating magazines and pamphlets since at least 2014 that claim vaccines are in opposition with Jewish religious law, (falsely) link vaccines to autism, and recount anonymous horror stories of children being irreparably harmed by vaccines.

Public health officials have called the measles outbreak a crisis, with 180 recorded cases of the disease since last fall in Rockland County and at least 285 in New York City. In both areas, measles has struck particularly hard in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, and health officials have worked with rabbis and other community leaders to spread the message: Vaccines are safe, and they save lives.

The PEACH stories and "experts" tell a darker story, one that's been repeatedly debunked by mainstream science, medical professionals, and religious leaders. The pamphlet downplays the danger of diseases such as measles, while pointing to the increase in diagnoses of autism. (Experts say those numbers have risen as parents have become more aware of autism, and doctors now diagnose a range of characteristics as part of the autism spectrum.) The pamphlet accuses pediatricians of covering up the dangers of vaccines for financial gain — another conspiracy theory — when in reality, vaccines are a tiny sliver of the pharmaceutical industry's profits, and individual doctors can lose money on administering vaccines.
"Enriched Parenting is a DBA of Parents Educating & Advocating for Children's Health, Inc. Our organization is not affiliated with Peach magazine. We are an organization that supports religious, philosophical, and medical choice. We are not, nor ever have been 'anti' anything other than coercion and loss of civil liberties," she said in a statement. "We support informed decision making and right of choice for all parents. Our activities are geared toward education and health options on a wide variety of subjects not limited to vaccine information. We are a pro-choice organization."