Dr. Lisa Morris on Interviewing for NBC "Skipping Vaccines"
Posted Dec 01 2011 12:00am
By Dr. Lisa Morris, DC
On the afternoon of Monday, November 28, 2011, I was interviewed for the "Skipping Vaccines" segment for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Kevin, a producer for the show, asked me a series of questions for at least 20-30 minutes. The topic was vaccination and the trend of parents “opting out.” Below is the segment that aired on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams:
Before we started the interview, Dr. Snyderman and Kevin informed me that they were determined to be unbiased and fair in addressing the issues of vaccination in America today. In hindsight, it is quite obvious the real intention was to suppress criticisms of the current vaccination policy by dismissing the concerns of an increasing number of parents throughout this country. The report begins by stating there is a growing trend of parents “opting out” of vaccinating their children, yet it never addresses the issues of why.
We did discuss why during our interview. In fact, our whole interview revolved around the reasons why parents are hesitant and concerned when it comes to vaccination. We discussed the fact that when making the decision of whether or not to vaccinate, we had a lot of de-programming to do. I told them my husband and I spend enormous amounts of time and effort educating ourselves about vaccination. We discussed our concerns over the current schedule, too many-too soon, one-size-fits-all, the lack of safety studies and unknown long-term effects of giving children multiple vaccinations at once. We discussed our family’s medical history and any adverse reactions to vaccination, our religious faith and vaccine ingredients.
We discussed the increase in current trends of chronic and autoimmune disease plaguing our children today including allergies, asthma, autism, diabetes, obesity, etc. I stated specific statistics by the CDC regarding the state of health of children in America today: 1 in 10 children have asthma, 1 in 17 have allergies, 1 in 10 have ADHD, 1 in 110 or 1 in 60 boys have autism, 1 in 5 are obese, and 1 in 4 are currently on a prescription drug, etc. We spoke about the fact that the US ranks 34th in the world for 5 and under mortality, yet we have by far the most rigorous vaccine schedule in comparison to every other country in the world.
During the interview, I explained how long and hard the process was when making my decision. I stated, the idea that we are all “programmed to think vaccines are so great,” but I also continued to suggest that essentially they (vaccines) may be; however, we tend to over-generalize that they are ALWAYS great; we tend not to look at vaccines as something that can cause harm because of their success (the above quotes were aired in the segment, but as you can see they cut off my explanation). I also went on to say the idea or “concept of the more vaccines the better, the more the better, or the more vaccines the healthier. I just don't believe that to be true”…when it comes to defining and supporting the health of our children and our communities (again, the quoted statement was aired, omitting the rest of my explanation). Moreover, the interviewers dismissed my question of the relevancy of inoculation effectiveness with respect to fully acquired immunity through titer testing. I relayed to them my dissatisfaction with the limited substance (ONE ingredient) in studies being used to definitively disprove a link between autism and vaccines.
I then went on to explain how we supported and continue to support the health of our children through breast-feeding beyond infancy, consuming organic whole foods, providing a clean and safe environment, clean water, good hygiene, avoidance of highly processed foods, exercise, etc.
I want to be clear that I was never asked my sources for information, but on the Nightly News with Brian Williams and on the Today Show with Matt Lauer the following morning, Dr. Snyderman said I was among a growing number of parents who are educated and get much of our medical information from the Internet. To set the record, my sources for vaccine and other health-related information is from the CDC, FDA, AAP, various medical journals, vaccine literature, pharmaceutical company product inserts, books written by leading medical doctors, etc. Here is the link to the Today Show segment.
Dr. Snyderman described me (as well as all parents who do not vaccinate) as tech savvy people who can “one-up or out-think their doctors.” This is quite unfair, since on Monday I was asked how my pediatrician felt about my views and I told her that our doctor understands the issues, is respectful, concerned about the topic, and open-minded. Dr. Snyderman described my children and all unvaccinated children as “disease carriers” or a “Typhoid Mary” which is completely false and contradictory since the night before (on air) she said they were “happy and healthy.” She also described me as “selfish, not thinking about my kids, uncaring of others, irresponsible” and “misinformed” which is simply untrue. Anyone who knows me knows I have the utmost concern for the health of our kids and the health of our community. My discussion on Monday with Dr. Snyderman and Kevin was wonderful. They acted legitimately concerned about the issues parents are facing regarding vaccination. I gave them intelligent and just answers regarding my stance on the issue. They informed me that while we do have opposing views, a senior producer at the Today Show agrees with my concerns and also has not yet vaccinated his children.
I have to add that I have received the most amazing support from parents around the country and the world for putting my family out there and trying to bring attention to this serious topic. On the downside, I have also received extremely threatening, vile, and hateful calls to my place of business from ignorant people who think it is okay to threaten my 5-year-old daughter and “quarantine her if necessary.” Disgusting. Does anyone in journalism take any responsibility for using my family as a scapegoat and saying we are disease spreading? Yet manipulating me into thinking we are doing a fair interview? Perhaps if NBC had aired the real discussion where I presented the actual reasons for my decision, I would not have had such misguided responses.
Still, even in light of my naiveté, I am happy to have done the interview because it brings attention to an issue that will continue to be a priority in the lives of parents everywhere. I believe the current mandated vaccination schedule in America today is a one-size-fits-all, over-simplification of a complex issue. Our children are individuals diverse in their medical histories, genetic make-up, religious and philosophical beliefs, physical needs, and lifestyle choices. In the end, whether or not you choose to vaccinate, we are all on the same side: the side that wants desperately what is best for our children and their health. The vaccination debate will not go away just because Dr. Snyderman flippantly waves her finger on television and tells everyone to “just get the damn vaccine!” It is quite sad that she chooses to blatantly dismiss the real reasons parents everywhere are delaying certain vaccines or “opting out,” especially because it is the liberty and freedom in this country that allows us the inalienable right to make these decisions.
~Yours in health~
Lisa Morris received her doctorate from New York Chiropractic College in 2005 and went on to open her own practice, New Health. While not at work, Lisa uses her time to educate moms in the community about the importance of healthy living. She also enjoys updating her health blog, Mommy Om (newhealthom.com), and loves spending quality time with her husband and two young children. She is currently at work on her first book, Above Down Inside Out, which focuses on the challenges of raising healthy children in America today. Lisa lives with her husband and two children in Buffalo, NY. You can contact her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.