Whatever. Tomato, tomahto. I'm not going to argue semantics. Instead, I'm issuing a challenge to anyone who says they are "not anti-vaccine, but pro-safe vaccine" (as if those who support vaccines are pro-dangerous vaccine). It is really a simple thing: don't just talk the talk; walk the walk.
If someone really wants vaccines to be safer than they currently are (which is pretty darn safe, all things considered), then do something about it. Open your wallet, take out some cash and send it to the lab at an academic medical center, for example, one that is actively researching vaccines and safety. Better yet, since most people probably don't have a whole lot of cash in their wallets, find the web site for the development office at the lab's institution. Mail a check or click on their donate button and make a gift by credit card and indicate that the donation is to support vaccine safety research. Not only do you actively contribute to scientific and medical progress, but you will likely get a benefit yourself in the form of a tax deduction, since many academic institutions are charitable organizations.
Now, I know there will be some who will state, perhaps vehemently, that they will not contribute to any researcher in the pocket of Big PharmaTM. Think about it this way: the more you give to the researcher, the less money they will need from Big PharmaTM. The less money they need from Big PharmaTM, the less beholden they are to the whims of faceless, corporate behemoths bent on world domination (or something...I don't quite get the conspiracy theories). Seriously, though. Researchers need money to run their labs. They write grant requests and send them out to lots of different funders such as private foundations, the National Institutes of Health and, yes, corporations. If they have plenty of money coming in from private sources, they don't need to appeal to what many in the anti-vaccine community view as the enemy. No need? No grant request. No grant request, no corporate influence (or at least, greatly decreased likelihood of corporate influence).
So there is my challenge to the people claiming they are "pro-safe vaccine" instead of "anti-vaccine," people like Teresa Conrick, Anne Dachel, JB Handley, Barbara Loe Fisher, Jenny McCarthy, Maureen Meleck, Dan Olmsted, Kim Stagliano, Ginger Taylor and so on. Make a contribution to the scientists (not journalists or lawyers) who are researching vaccine safety. Support those whose training, expertise and careers are based on immunology and vaccines. If you don't like the anti-vaccine label, then do something about it. Back up your words with your deeds. Contribute to making vaccines safer. Put your money where your mouth is.
Personal disclosure: I recently made a donation of my own to a lab at an academic medical center that has a focus on vaccine safety research. I'm not asking anyone to do anything that I have not already done and will do again.
Update: Per request, here are some labs that I have found through some Google-fu that do research on vaccines and vaccine safety:
- University of Louisville, Pediatric Clinical Trials Unit - Program Info, How to Make a Gift
- Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford-Lucile Packard Children's Hospital - Program Info, How to Make a Gift
- Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Immunization Research - Program Info, How to Make a Gift
- Massachusetts General Hospital, Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center - Program Info, How to Make a Gift