By Alex Segura Lozano
Los Angeles, Apr 29 (efe-epa).- Southern California resident Abbi Kailin told Efe she has no plans to be inoculated against Covid-19 if a vaccine is developed against that respiratory disease, which has been blamed for nearly 200,000 deaths worldwide over the past few months.
Kailin told Efe her objections stem from her mistrust of political power and from a bad experience with vaccines by a family close to her parents, who subsequently decided not to inoculate any of their own children and instead opted for “natural immunization” based on a careful diet and daily vitamin supplements.
“I don’t trust the government at all. I don’t trust anything that they say,” the young woman told Efe. “I’ve never believed in (vaccines). I’m perfectly healthy. I’m the baby of five kids and all of us are extremely healthy and we’ve never gotten flu shots. I just don’t believe in them at all and I think that you don’t need to get them and I don’t think they do anything well for you.”
A resident of Carlsbad, California, an affluent small city half-way between Los Angeles and San Diego that ranks in the top 20 nationwide in income per capita, she and her family are part of an anti-vaccine movement that has a long history in the US and has gained strength in recent years.
But their stance runs counter to official policy in California, a state where a 2016 law barring vaccine exemptions for religious or personal reasons has sparked protests and a small but vocal anti-vaccine movement.
Martha Ugarte, a Hispanic member of the group “No a las Vacunas Forzadas” (No to Forced Vaccines), is an activist who has taken part in these types of demonstrations.
“I’m not in favor of an authoritarian regime. Let people make decisions about their own lives, their own bodies,” said that resident of North Hills, California, a community north of Los Angeles.
Ugarte and her daughter, also named Martha, sent Efe a list of more than a dozen foods and products that they say can help boost people’s natural immunity to the coronavirus, including iodine-rich kelp, eucalyptus oil and echinacea (purple coneflower).
They also cited a personal experience, saying Ugarte’s grandson (her daughter Martha’s son) suffered medical problems after being administered a vaccine as a newborn but is now healthy thanks to following a rigorous diet and taking regular supplements.
“Would I risk all the progress my son has made up to now with a vaccine? No, I wouldn’t,” the younger Martha said of the possibility of his being inoculated against the novel coronavirus.
One of the main reasons the Kailin and Ugarte families oppose vaccines is because of their potential side effects.
The United States’ Department of Health and Human Services says that most people do not suffer serious side effects from vaccines. Even so, the percentage of children under the age of two in the US who have not received any of the recommended vaccinations against diseases such as measles and whooping cough has climbed to 1.3 percent, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis.
The vaccine debate in the US dates back at least to the 19th century.
Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and abolitionist and one of the great American orators of his era, spoke out against mandatory smallpox inoculation and argued that vaccines encroached upon people’s freedom of choice.
According to a World Health Organization report, smallpox ranks as one of the most lethal pandemics in recent human history with around 300 million deaths worldwide in the 20th century.
Distrust about vaccines remains widespread in the US, with a Harris Poll last year showing that nearly half of US adults have doubts about vaccine safety, although they do not specifically oppose their being administered.
American celebrities such as actors Jim Carrey, Jessica Biel, Jenny McCarthy and Selma Blair also have sparked controversy by expressing concerns about vaccines.
Among athletes, one prominent anti-vaccine voice is the No. 1-ranked male tennis player, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, who has won 17 Grand Slam titles and is closing in on the record for major men’s singles titles held by Swiss great Roger Federer (20).
The 32-year-old Djokovic said recently that he personally opposes vaccines and will have a tough choice to make if he is not allowed to travel unless he can show proof of having been inoculated against Covid-19. EFE-EPA