I subscribe to your newspaper on behalf of my children, aged _ and _. They are avid readers and very much enjoy having their own newspaper, greatly looking forward to its arrival each week.
I am ordinarily very happy with the standard of journalism and the age-appropriate articles included, which prompt much interesting and lively discussion amongst the family.
However, I am afraid that the high standards from your newspaper I have come to expect were severely diminished with your [date] issue, which included an article I can only describe as sinister state propaganda. The title of this article was 'New Laws Against Anti-Vaxxers?', and instructed children that engaging any concerns about fast-tracked, unlicensed, and experimental medical products equates to "dangerous nonsense".
I am an active campaigner and researcher in the field of children's medical safety, and I know very well that vaccines - like all medical products - come with an array of potential risks and side-effects, some of them severe. This is even so for vaccines that have spent many years or decades in development and that have passed through all the conventional approvals processes, so it is certainly also the case for vaccines that have been produced within a matter of months, and that contain experimental technologies never before utilised on human beings.
Many eminent and entirely "pro-vaccine" authorities have issued stark warnings against these vaccines, including Dr. Peter Hotez (1) and UK scientist Hilda Bastian (2).
To dismiss these and other entirely credible, important, and worthy concerns as "dangerous nonsense" is dangerous nonsense in itself. There is a huge and imperatively important debate that must happen around these vaccines, where scientists and lay people alike are free to ask questions, demand evidence, and express concerns, without being vilified or silenced by the press. This is especially true for media vehicles that are aimed at the highly impressionable minds of children.
Further, I do not appreciate you encouraging children to label and discriminate against others for their beliefs by the inclusion of the slur "anti-vaxxer", a term which has become a denigrating and pejorative taunt meant to imply someone is unreasonable, delusional, or even dangerous. Expressing concerns about fast-tracked, experimental medical products is certainly not unreasonable or dangerous, and nor is it "anti" anything. Rather, it is pro-safety, pro-transparency, and pro-accountability, characteristics which recent history reveals the pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines tend to be rather lacking in. The company Pfizer, that is producing the vaccine shortly to make its debut in the UK, was, in 2009, fined $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations that it had illegally marketed its painkiller Bextra, which has been withdrawn. This is the largest health care fraud settlement and the largest criminal fine of any kind ever (3). To not rigorously question a company with such a history when it is producing a fast-tracked product aimed at our most vulnerable citizens is not just slightly remiss, it may border on criminal negligence.
I am bringing up my children to be open-minded critical thinkers, and I do not wish them to be recipients of emotive and misleading propaganda dressed up as respectable journalism. Why the UK Government wishes to silence and even criminalise perfectly reasonable debates on medical safety is a question any diligent journalist ought to be extremely interested in exploring, rather than simply parroting state dogma.
If you wish to retain my custom, I expect you to resolve this matter in a subsequent issue by posting a balanced and evidence-based piece regarding both the risks and benefits of vaccinations, and underlining the critical importance of preserving people's sovereign rights - including children's - to ask questions.
After all, isn't that what journalism is supposed to be all about?