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Update: on Monday, March 2, after about three days of stagnation, the petition appeared to be restarted with the count increasing by several hundred.
Has a White House vaccine choice petition remained mysteriously frozen for more than 36 hours, failing to count new signatures? That’s what those who have tried to add their signatures claim.
President Obama established the online petition process “We the People” at WhiteHouse.gov as a way to “give all Americans a way to engage their government on the issues that matter to them.” If a citizen begins a petition and achieves a significant number of signatures, usually 100,000, the process promises that the President will address the issue.
But what happens if the White House website quits counting the signatures?
That has apparently been the case for approximately two days with a petition started by advocates who are against forced vaccination: the number of signatures has remained stuck at 56,791.
Vaccine choice advocates suspect that the frozen petition is no accident–that somebody is trying to tamp down the appearance of support for vaccine choice.
Sunday evening, a test of the site confirmed that the number of signatures shown on the petition remained stagnant at 56,791 even after a new signature was submitted and the White House sent a confirmation notice saying the signature had been added.
It’s possible that the problem could just be a persistent technical glitch.
An query posed to the White House Sunday night was not immediately answered.
According to a Pew Research Center poll, 68% of U.S. adults say childhood vaccinations should be required while 30% say parents should be able to decide. Younger people are more likely to support parental vaccine choice: 41% of 18- to 29-year-olds say parents should be able to decide whether or not their child gets vaccinated.
Vaccine advocates worry that if vaccine safety concerns result in a lowered vaccination rate, preventable diseases will return to the U.S. in epidemic proportions. They tend to blame current vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks on “anti-vaxxers.” Some of them label all researchers and parents who express concern about vaccine safety issues as “anti-vaccine,” even when those very researchers and parents generally support vaccination.
The CDC says that the routine annual outbreaks of measles in the U.S., such as the current outbreak in California, are due to the measles being brought into the U.S. from other countries. The CDC says a significant number of those contracting measles had been vaccinated for the disease. Recent outbreaks of mumps and pertussis (whooping cough) are also victimizing both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Some vaccine safety advocates say vaccines should be made as safe as possible, and that children who are susceptible to the rare, serious side effects, such as brain damage, should be identified and culled out.
Some anti-vaccine activists say the whole U.S. vaccine program is fraught with such risk and uncertainty, that children are better off without them.
The number of signatories on a White House petition is no guarantee that any particular action will be taken. President Obama responded to numerous petitions asking him to address gun violence with this recorded video message.
No matter where people stand on the issue of vaccine choice, vaccine safety and U.S. vaccine policy, there may be one thing they agree on: information should be accurately gathered and reflected.