Oak Parkers concerned about what might be inside the vaccines injected into their bodies might get a shot at more clarity this November.
An advisory referendum on the Nov. 2 election ballot will ask Oak Park voters if they think the village should require anyone who injects vaccines to disclose the list of ingredients in each injection.
Oak Parker Barbara Mullarkey gathered the 15 signatures from registered voters that were needed to place the referendum on the ballot next month. Mullarkey, 75, has long been an advocate for full disclosure on vaccine ingredients. She's the president and founder of the Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition, a group formed in 2001 to urge more information on vaccines.
Mullarkey pointed to the Mercury Free Vaccine Act, in place since January 2006, banning vaccines that contain a certain amount of mercury, as an impetus for the referendum. She says the Illinois Department of Public Health each year has declared itself exempt from the law.
"Why have Illinois senators and representatives allowed the Illinois Department of Public Health's unelected bureaucrats to circumvent the Mercury Free Act?" Mullarkey said.
Many years ago, Mullarkey was an opinion columnist for Wednesday Journal.
Margaret Provost-Fyfe — director of the Oak Park Health Department, which provides immunizations — expressed concerns about the referendum. Detailed information about vaccines is already provided on the Food and Drug Administration's website, and it would be a burden and send the wrong message if health care providers were forced to provide that information to every single patient, regardless of his or her interest.
She worried that the referendum would send what she says is a false impression that vaccinations are dangerous.
"Vaccines are safe and they're one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century," Provost-Fyfe said. "They have protected many, many, many children from disease and death."