Oak Park not taking action on vaccine referendum

Push for transparency likely to die, despite 2-to-1 approval from voters


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

A referendum urging more transparency in the delivery of vaccines in Oak Park appears to have injected enthusiasm into local polling places. But village officials haven't been stricken with the same interest.

Oak Park voters supported the nonbinding ballot measure yesterday by a better than 2-to-1 margin, with all of the village's precincts reporting.

Barbara Mullarkey, 75, a lifelong Oak Parker and longtime advocate for vaccination transparency, fought to get the measure on the ballot, obtaining the 15 signatures needed from registered voters.

The referendum asked Oak Park to require those who administer vaccines to disclose all ingredients for the shots, and to advise patients that the medicine may contain an unsafe amount of mercury. According to the Cook County clerk's office, the referendum captured 67 percent of the vote (11,938 votes to 5,785).

Wednesday afternoon, Mullarkey, who is also president of the Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition, said she was overjoyed by the results.

"I'm delighted that people have stood up for transparency and full disclosure of vaccine ingredients," she said. "It's a victory for freedom of information."

She scoffed at Web comments on Wednesday Journal's OakPark.com, accusing the referendum of "fear mongering." Mullarkey hopes the village will act quickly to address the voter response, after an advisory referendum suggesting that Oak Park adopt a living wage languished for two years before it was struck down by the village board.

But Margaret Provost-Fyfe, director of the Oak Park Health Department, says no village action is forthcoming. She has spoken out against the referendum, saying that 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.

Provost-Fyfe says it is "unfortunate" that the measure ever made it on the ballot. The only action village hall is taking is telling health care providers that the referendum is nonbinding, and to keep administering vaccines in the same fashion as previously. She says the referendum has no "sound scientific basis" and hopes it won't scare people away from getting vaccinated.

"There is no concern in the medical community at this time around any of the issues raised in this referendum," she said, later adding, "The village will not be taking any action whatsoever in this regard."

It takes just 15 signatures to place a measure on the ballot in a process governed by state law and implemented locally through the township government. Final approval to place a referendum on a ballot comes not from the township's governing board but by a vote of ordinary citizens who come to a sparsely attended annual town meeting.

Reader Comments

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Democracy In Action - NOT  

Posted: November 9th, 2010 11:24 AM

Joan, it is obvious that you do not know what you are talking about for doctors do not give immunizations, nurses do. Also, a disclaimer already given when one gets a shot; where is the added cost to add more wording to that document? John Murtagh, please buy better insurance so that doctors can spend more time with you. Insurance companies only pay for a 8 to 20 minute appointment depending on the visit type. If you live in a democracy, you need to accept the will of the voters and OP does not

Joan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 8th, 2010 5:41 PM

No one who voted for this has any right whatsoever to complain of waiting to see a doctor ever again, or of paying taxes ! This referendum will require MUCH more time to be spent with patients and parents. This info. is available in other places if anyone needs to have it. But asking doctors to explain it will take time.And, of course, it will cost our Board of Health money to oversee, don't kid yourself. So, please, no more complaints about waiting for a doctor to see you, if you voted for this


Posted: November 8th, 2010 8:28 AM

Democracy in action, 67 percent of the voters voted yes for this referendum and the village is going to ignore it? and the Director of Public Health is not going to take action? Give me a break. Do they accept money from Pharma lobbyists too?

this years headlines continued  

Posted: November 8th, 2010 8:08 AM

all this info is out there. huge recalls on food and toys also. why do people insist on living with blinders on? its because of this ignorance that these problems continue to grow.

This years headlines  

Posted: November 8th, 2010 8:02 AM

Drug Companies Fund Over 17,000 DoctorsA global health care company is recalling more than 5 million units of baby formula because of possible contaminationFacing increasing pressure from zinc poisoning lawsuits and critics calling for a Super Poligrip recall, GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it will discontinue all Super Poligrip denture adhesives that contain zincGlaxoSmithKline's oral rotavirus vaccine Rotarix has been temporarily shelved in the U.S. due to a pig-virus contamination.

Christina Blakey from Oak Park  

Posted: November 5th, 2010 4:24 PM

With one in 67 boys diagnosed with autism, parents have a right to be alarmed. Clearly this is a controversial topic, but it's fair to say that the jury is still out on the role of vaccines and autism. The former head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Bernardine Healy has gone on record repeatedly as saying this. Vaccines do cause damage in a subset of children. US Vaccine Court has conceded this as well . Where there is risk, there must be informed consent and choice.

Bill Strong from Oak Park  

Posted: November 4th, 2010 11:24 PM

Thanks for the reply, Marty.I guess the good news is that the referendum is non-binding. Now that I know more about its genesis, I believe the Village is absolutely right to ignore it.There's something a little cockeyed about the process by which this got on the ballot. Maybe the WJ could pursue that angle a little more so we avoid this kind of thing next time around.

Kyle from Oak Park  

Posted: November 4th, 2010 2:36 PM

I vaccinate my son, but I voted FOR the ballot measure because more information is a good thing. But I'm more concerned now about the lack of interest from Village Hall on taking up a matter where citizens had their say. Just as I voted for the living wage before. I'm a transplant here and the longer I pay attention to Oak Park politics it seems that despite our lofty reputation for being progressives, we have a local government often operating separately from community interests.

Marge G from OP  

Posted: November 4th, 2010 1:21 PM

The saddest thing about this total misuse of the referendum process is the role of the local press. Instead of presenting clear and scientifically correct and balanced information about this issue, which could have easily been researched, you chose to highlight the role of one extremist and her wish for so called "transparency."Clogging up the process of necessary public health activities simply increases fear,makes the cost greater for taxpayers, and the rate of vaccination lower.

Marty Stempniak, Journal staff reporter  

Posted: November 4th, 2010 12:08 PM

Bill,Wednesday Journal ran an initial story about the vaccine referendum on October 5:http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/10-05-2010/Oak_Park_referendum_pushes_for_vaccination_transparency

Eileen from Oak Park  

Posted: November 4th, 2010 11:33 AM

People should know what is in any medication they are taking, and especially shooting into their childrens veins. I have come accross many people that had no idea what are in the shots or ever even though about it. The shots have chanded over the years because stuff needed to be taken out of them for a reason. I'm not against all shots but definately think people should know what is in each one. Do kids really need a chicken pox shot!

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: November 4th, 2010 1:35 AM

I voted NO without knowing anything about the pros and cons. In fact, that is why I voted NO. For AN MD IN THE KNOW Do you really think we read the medical info cleansed by the legal beagles? I trust my health care providers. Doctors, please stop shoving unintelligible medical paper into our hands. Talk to us instead. Also please ask your assistants to stop tapping their pens and moaning as I try to read the ten releases I have to sign before I can get a pimple examined. REALLY.

Bill Strong from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 11:30 PM

A comment and a question:-This is another argument for abolishing township government in Illinois.-Was there advance coverage of this locally, on this blog, in the WJ, Oak Leaves, whatever?

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 10:32 PM

I don't believe anyone is against having access to information to make informed decisions. I don't know of the accuracy or inaccuracy of the statements made in the referendum. I voted against this simply because it seems like an unnecessary cost to give information that is already readily available to anyone who wants to know. Healthcare costs are already rising too fast, this just adds another cost.

An MD in the Know  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 10:22 PM

There are already disclosures provided when you receive a vaccine. It is not a burden to add more to the single 8 x 11 sheet that is already provided. Seriously, it will be a burden when people realize what is in the vaccines that are distributed. Why are the people in power afraid of disclosing the ingredients to the vaccines?

Curio S. Thinker  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 8:19 PM

I know all the research is there about vaccines, what about IVF/ART? It became popular around the same time this whole thimerisol became the culprit. What if creating human life with a syringe and petri dish might have something to do with Autism etc.? Who knows if a little DNA might stick on that microscopic needle.? Who is going to ask for a referendum against IVF/ART? I guess you only need 15 people.


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 8:07 PM

I'm looking forward to Barbara Mullarkey's future "transparency and full disclosure" referendums, such as having Creationism taught in the schools and forcing women to view dead fetuses before obtaining an abortion....


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 7:05 PM

Also, Wednesday Journal, "Barbara Mullarkey, 75, a lifelong Oak Parker and longtime advocate for vaccination transparency, fought to get the measure on the ballot, obtaining the 15 signatures needed from registered voters."Fought? To get 15 whole signatures?? Hyperbole much? Sheesh. I can get 15 signatures to get a referendum on the ballot that says, "Oak Park likes turtles". It's not much of a burden. Actually, it's *no* burden.


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 7:02 PM

Eileen & Virginia: I, and others I know who oppose this referendum, are NOT against the dissemination of *information*. Information would be distributing the insert that comes with the vaccine (which as the Village has pointed out, is already readily available on the FDA website).That's NOT what the referendum called for: it called for including an *inaccurate* statement that vaccines may contain 3.5x the mercury needed to kill a 148lb adult. That is not info; that is fear mongering.

Virginia- 1931  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 6:37 PM

Why are people afraid of having the vaccine ingredients available? This for example is what one might hear about Gardasil. Teenage girls receive this vaccine. This information looks important and may help a parent or young adult make an informed decision:IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATIONAnyone who is allergic to the ingredients of GARDASIL, including those severely allergic to yeast, should not receive the vaccine. GARDASIL is not for women who are pregnant.The side effects include pain, swelling, itching, bruising, and redness at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting. Fainting can happen after getting GARDASIL. Sometimes people who faint can fall and hurt themselves. For this reason, your health care professional may ask you to sit or lie down for 15 minutes after you get GARDASIL. Some people who faint might shake or become stiff. This may require evaluation or treatment by your health care professional.

Teresa Powell from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 6:25 PM

I got some calls about this referendum this afternoon, so I researched the question. According to Township Clerk Greg White, a referendum of this type may be voted on at the annual Township meeting in April. With votes of 15 registered voters, it can be certified and go on the ballot. The Village of Oak Park government was not involved in this process.

JMA from Forest Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 6:21 PM

I agree with the few enlightened posters on here. Do not blindly trust what the pharmaceutical /medical industry hands you! Doctors do not know everything although they would have you think otherwise. Such nasty comments by Oak Parkers...I would never want to be on the side of viciousness!


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 6:10 PM

The contents of vacines must be pretty scary for so many to get so defensive. Why are we at war against information?


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 5:10 PM

I opposed this referendum, but stupidly I didn't vote on this! I should have voted NO! I just skippped it and went on with the rest of the ballot. Next time!

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 5:00 PM

Marty is right about the process for getting referendums like the vaccination notification on the ballot. The process is appalling. The same process was used to get the Living Wage Referendum on the 2008 Presidential Ballot. Neither the vaccination or Living Wage referendums had any forewarning. No public meetings, no literature drops, no public officials statements of support or opposition. The decision is left on the voter who has absolutely no pro and con information to guide them.

BigOldGeek from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 3:03 PM

@Virginia-1931: The injury is that caused by the known dangers of diseases that vaccines prevent. Scaring people away from taking the vaccines or administering them to their children is likely to lead to many more deaths and sickness that adverse reactions to the vaccine.

Marty Stempniak, Journal staff reporter  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 2:06 PM

Just to provide a little more information on how advisory referenda get on the ballot:Every April, the Oak Park Township holds its annual meeting. Any 15 or more registered voters can get an item considered by giving written notice to the township clerk no later than March 1.Registered voters who attend the annual township meeting are then asked to vote on whether they want the advisory referendum to be placed on the ballot at the next regularly scheduled election in the township.

Mrs Peterson  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 1:33 PM

And right on cue, there's a pertussis outbreak in Winnetka and Wilmette.The scientific illiteracy around this issue is astonishing. I am shocked that educated people voted for this irrational, fear-mongering referendum. Hopefully the village board will have enough sense not to act on it.


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 1:12 PM

67% voted YES and those who complain here must have issues with transparency and constitutional rights. Vaccines are a MEDICAL PROCEDURE and knowing the iongredients is important. Any who deny injury by thimerosal or live viruses, read the Poling decision etc-http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/11/safeminds-video-on-the-autism-vaccines-drumbeat.htmlThose who object to vaccine safety have a conflict and money attached to a false belief.

Peter Traczyk from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:27 PM

I believe Illinois election code allows "questions of public policy" to be added by petition with signatures of 8% of the total votes cast for governor in any precinct in the last election.While we commonly refer to these as advisory referendums, they do not hold any force of law. You would need to change Illinois election code to raise the required number of signatures in order to discourage the use of this type of non-binding ballot policy question.

Violet Aura  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 11:24 AM

Wow, so many sheeple on here defending vaccines! Ever heard of the dangers of adjuvants like squalene?In any case, people who reside in OP are actually arguing AGAINST full disclosure about what is being shot into their veins?! I will NEVER get vaxxed for anything. I see so many young kids today and they just seem off. I think they have been poisoned by something and their parents are on so many meds themselves that they have been brainwashed to trust in Big Pharma for their "health." LOL

Concerned citizen  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 10:14 AM

Sounds like a lot of malarkey to me!


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 10:09 AM

It shouldn't be so easy to clutter the ballot with quack nonsense.

almosthadmyvote from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 9:48 AM

I agree with David's comment, below. I would have happily voted for this referendum if it had asked only that health care workers distribute the insert information. The needless inclusion of the final statement, which crosses the line from information to advocacy about a point over which there is not full scientific agreement, killed it for me. Authors of future referenda may want to have a wider variety of folks vet their wording.

Sally Forth from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 9:16 AM

It took all of FIFTEEN signatures on a petition to get this nonsense placed on a ballot?? Where is the transparency in that? Is it a VOP ordinance that allows essentially a star chamber to push an agenda? Who were the wingnuts who supported her petition, and what is the process for stopping this kind of ballot abuse by misinformed, single issue zealots?

Rich from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 9:01 AM

When children do not grow up healthy and happy, it rips our hearts out. If only vaccinations, mercury preservatives, etc. were the culprits causing autism and disease, then we would be happy because we have a simple solution. But well reviewed studies tell us this is not the cause that is hurting our children. Devastated parents are understandably tired of waiting for a way to stop things that harm our children. But I cannot support this ballot effort. It is not a scientific approach. At best it is emotionally satisfying, because "at least we are doing something". At worst it sets the stage for parents to avoid vaccinations, thus the loss of herd immunity and the return of far worse damage to our children by the very horrific diseases that the vaccines have removed from lives. Have we forgotten just how bad children's lives were in this world before vaccines? We all want to do something, but let's not stampede in an unscientific direction that ultimately damages our children more than it will help. There is a big body of science that shows that the words of the ballot initiative were outdated and false about what is in vaccines today and about the risk they pose. Even after all or nearly all the mercury preservative has been removed from vaccines in question, the tragedy of autism grows. Complicating measurement process is that we are increasingly better at diagnosing autism, so we find more of it and we diagnose more kinds of conditions as autism. None of this is mentioned on the ballot. Instead the ballot wording fear mongers with bad or cherry picked information and exaggerations, then offers a false solution to the problem, more government regulation and more expense. It distracts us from finding the real causes of autism or other conditions we want to stop. It wastes out time, money and our valuable resources chasing after a false improvement on the problem. Freedom of speech must be upheld and I will protect the right of the author to do what she did. But I will not vote for bad science and bad health care ideas. Let's double up our fight against childhood disease, but let's do it scientifically and responsibly.

Medical Doctor from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 6:36 AM

Barbara Mullarkey is no expert on vaccines. Her Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition consists of Barbara Mullarkey and no one else. She is a registered 501-c-3 but does not have a legally constituted board and has never filed required reports with the IRS or the State of Illinois.This was an illegal referendum sponsored by an illegal organization. Oak Park does it again! So much for vetting the B.S. self-interests who allow this kind of thing. Mullarkey should be fined and/or jailed for this.

BigOldGeek from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 6:21 AM

And the campaign to defeat herd immunity continues. There are children who cannot get some of these vaccines because of egg allergies. They depend on their peers being immunized to prevent the diseases from getting a foothold. This anti-scientific fear mongering will now decrease the number of people immunizing their children in Oak Park, and may set us up for a herd immunity breakdown like we saw recently in California with the measles outbreak.


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:28 AM

Andy-how much money did the banking industry give the politicians so that policies were allowed which caused our economy to collapse?


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:17 AM

As a healthcare worker I have seen dozens of people die or suffer severe disability from vaccine preventable illnesses. Several vaccines have been improved in the last 15 years so that the likelihood of side effects from them is much lower. Thimerosal, the mercury containing preservative that was used in the past has now been removed from the vaccines.There have been no credible studies that have linked autism with vaccines.


Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:15 AM

How much Pharm's are giving to our politicans? Look for yourself.http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=i

Andy from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:13 AM

Look how much money Pharm's are contributing to our politicians. No wonder they could do as they please and poison us.http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=i

Tom from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:11 AM

Thank you Barbara Mullarkey! So Tired of the FDA lying to us and getting us and our Children SICK! WAY TO GO BARBARA!!!!!!!!!!

Ed McDevitt from River Forest  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:05 AM

I know thousands of people who've not been harmed by vaccines and NONE who have been harmed. We're in a time when crackpot, unscientific ideas get a hearing and readily get people lined up behind them . Too often they are put forth by people who have suffered misfortune that has no understandable explanation. That plus a meager knowledge of scientific thinking and process make them susceptible to fringe and even paranoid theories of causation. We should never have to vote on such nonsense.

David from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 11:49 PM

This referendum was pure fear mongering... if it were really about "transparency" it could have stopped at requiring the insert information be distributed--without the language about 3x toxic levels for a 148lb adult, which is pretty much an outright lie. People responded to the fear--not information.

JMA from Forest Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 11:26 PM

Well, who is surprised by the snarky comments already posted here? Vaccinations are not always safe but apparently these two posters are lucky enough not to have any of their loved ones hurt by vaccines...

Marc Chodera from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 11:19 PM

Way to go Oak Park! Let's get another initiative to repeal evolution and gravity! Woo-hoo! More votes for the know-nothing party!

Took Obama 2 years to do what it took Bush 8 to do....  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 10:46 PM

It is simply incredible how many simpletons live and vote in Oak Park.

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