the vaccine war

Letter from Jennifer Margulis

May 17, 2010

To The Producers:

Thank you for your recent episode about vaccines, "The Vaccine War." While I was deeply disturbed by how the final version of the film turned out, I am grateful to see this issue on national television.

However, Frontline got it dead wrong when it reported that I "chose not to vaccinate" my own children. As I told your producers during more than three hours of on-camera interviews, I am pro-vaccine. But, like thousands of other parents (most of whom remain quiet on this issue for fear of negative repercussions that I have experienced firsthand since the film was broadcasted), I am also concerned that the current vaccination regime may do more harm than good to America's children.

Contrary to what was stated in the film, my three older children are vaccinated. They are not vaccinated according to CDC guidelines and they are not vaccinated as fully as some of the doctors you interviewed in your film would like, but it is utterly false to assert that they are not vaccinated at all.

I am glad to see that you have edited the voice-over to correct this false statement, but the film still fundamentally misstates the view of vaccinations held by me and many others who have given the matter serious thought: Vaccines can help prevent fatal diseases and should be offered when a risk of exposure to those diseases is present, but the current CDC recommendations for vaccinations may be too many, too soon for many children.

I am not anti-vaccine, I am pro-questions. Parents should feel free to question their healthcare providers before agreeing to injections that contain substances whose effects may not be fully understood. After asking the questions, I chose to vaccinate my children selectively. You knew that and you should have reported it the first time around.

I can only theorize that you made this mistake because the producers got carried away by the central premise of the film, which is flawed: that the disagreements over vaccines are a "war" between the medical establishment and people who in effect reject scientific evidence.

In fact, there is a lively debate that includes these factions, but includes many more in a middle ground—doctors like Jay Gordon and Robert W. Sears (whose interviews were both cut from the final version of the film) and parents like me who agree that some vaccines do more good than harm, but decline to inject their children with every vaccine their doctors tell them to at exactly the time the doctors suggest.

You should have correctly reported not only the facts about my family, but my views on vaccines, even if they did not fit neatly into the framework of your film.

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

FRONTLINE Editors' Note: After broadcast, we were contacted on behalf of Jennifer Margulis about how her views on vaccines and the CDC schedule were misrepresented. Subsequently, FRONTLINE clarified the program narration to indicate that she has vaccinated her children against some diseases (yellow fever, tetanus, polio and meningitis), but has not vaccinated her children according to the CDC's full list of recommended vaccines or the CDC's recommended schedule. For more on Jennifer Margulis' views regarding the vaccine debate see an article she wrote for Mothering magazine.


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posted april 27, 2010

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