According to anti-vaccination, alternative health-choice advocate Andrew Wakefield, the consequences of mass vaccinations are dire.
"This moment in time is the beginning of the end of the first republic of the United States of America," he said.
Wakefield is a former British doctor who authored a controversial study where he linked the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine to autism in children. That study, published in The Lancet, has since been fully retracted by the publication. In fact, the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom later announced it had accepted dozens of charges against Wakefield, including dishonesty and 12 counts of abuse of developmentally challenged children, and struck Wakefield's name from its U.K. Medical Register.
The controversial former doctor spoke at a "Rally for Truth" held on the steps of the Idaho Capitol in Boise Aug. 3, in front of more than 100 people. The event, sponsored by Health Freedom Idaho, was a springboard for organizing action promoting alternative health choice in Idaho while voicing skepticism about modern medicine, including vaccinations for children, fluoride and genetically modified foods, as well as corporatism in the medical industry and the mass media.
"Modern medicine is a killer," said HFI founding board member Leslie Manookian.
Speaking about personal experiences traveling American and learning about alleged instances in which vaccination had caused, rather than prevented, illness, author and producer of the film Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe Polly Tommey said modern medicine has come at the expense of people who she said had been damaged, sometimes permanently, by vaccinations.
"We are damaging the people of America," she said.
Tommey and Wakefield's assertion that vaccinating children can cause autism has been denied by the Centers for Disease Control, which has said neither vaccines nor vaccine ingredients cause autism. The claim of a link between vaccines and autism, however, has been persistent, and "anti-vaxx" sentiment has roots in Idaho, which had a 6.5 percent kindergarten vaccination exemption rate in 2014. Some counties reported high exemption rates, however, with Bonner County kids clocking in at a whopping 20.5 percent vaccination exemption rate.
Skeptics, however, have said proof of the damaging effects of vaccination has been covered up by financially interested parties like large pharmaceutical companies and the federal government, with several speakers at the Rally for Truth event taking aim at the news media, which they said has been complicit in undermining the anti-vaxx and alternative medicine movements.
One example: Vaccine-skepticism film VaxXed was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival amid outcry from opponents that it was not grounded in science and might frighten some parents into not vaccinating their children. According to VaxXed Producer Del Bigtree, however, the film "exposes a challenge to the American principle of freedom."
"We are in a major crisis," he said. "Everything our founding fathers stood for is hanging in the balance, and the truth—it's already been purchased."