In a Facebook post titled “The Vaccine Whisperers,” the onetime subject of a Weekly cover story seems to compare anti-vaxxers–a.k.a. parents who do not have their children vaccinated–to Jews during the Holocaust.
That hyperbole brought Capistrano beach pediatrician Dr. Bob Sears–who was featured in Michelle Woo's August 2012 report ““Dr. Robert Sears Takes on Both Sides of the Great Vaccination Divide”–to the attention of The Daily Beast's Russell Saunders.
This is going to take some set up; Sears, the author of The Vaccine Book, advises parents to make the “right decision” for their children, and to space vaccines out rather than give them according to the standard schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC contends giving vaccines in combination does not overwhelm the immune system, is quite safe and that spacing them out merely prolongs the period of time during which infants may be susceptible to preventable illness.
Sears goes farther in “The Vaccine Whisperers,” referring to patients who have been dismissed from other practices because their parents refuse to vaccinate them as “refugees.” The doctor welcomes those who aren't vaccinated; it's important to note that his practice is in South County, a hotbed for anti-vaxxers.
“So I tell them they don't have to whisper,” Sears writes in his Facebook post. “They can say it loud and clear, with confidence. Ya, I guess you don't want to advertise it around the neighborhood–that will come soon enough. Scarlet 'V' anyone? No, not scarlet. Let's make it yellow. And not a V–a star would be better. That way everyone can know at first glance who is safe to be around and who is not. That way, if your old doctor and his children are walking down the street, they can easily identify your kids and quickly cross to the other side before they get too close.”
Nazi! … I mean … yahtzee!
In yet another bizarre twist, Sears seems to realize he went too far.
“This post is not intended as a reference to a holocaust,” he writes. “It's (obviously) a reference to the discrimination and prejudice felt by the Jewish people many years ago. But, it is not intended to compare vaccination or non-vaccination to a holocaust. If the historical parallel bothers you, maybe it should.”
Ding-ding-ding … winner-winner Shabbat chicken dinner!
Saunders calls the comparison “disgraceful.”
To compare the plight of the Jews under Hitler to that of those who willingly forgo a preventive treatment that safeguards not only the health of their children, but the community as a whole is to lose all moral grounding,” writes the Daily Beaster. “It is to purloin the most appalling suffering of the 20th century's greatest victims, and assign it to those whose choices make not only themselves but their neighbors less safe. It is repulsive.”
He goes on, so click on the link if your dander's not quite up high enough.
By the way, Sears' post had 4,460 likes and 1,177 shares last time I checked.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.