In my last post on the continuing measles outbreak, I encouraged Americans to consider vaccinations.

Imagine my surprise upon discovering that, as the co-founder of a San Diego Tea Party group, I am also labeled one of the dreaded #antivaxxers!

Well, then I personally would like to welcome an iconic Democrat, Robert T. Kennedy, to the ranks of the Tea Party!

While some “Tea Party” people don’t choose to vaccinate themselves or their children, a look at the states where non-medical exemptions from vaccinations are an option shows that many of them went for Obama in the last election.

The Obama Administration must be worried that the lack of immunization for childhood diseases is going to blossom into a major healthcare PR crisis of Ebola-like proportions, because its friends in the mainstream media are now smearing those who don’t vaccinate with that vile term, “Tea Party.” How, then, can these mainstream publishers explain the preponderance of progressive non-takers?

By using another derisive phrase, “limousine liberals.”

And while there are surely some Republicans keen on an anti-vaccine message, it’s wealthy, progressive Californians who basically started the movement.

…This is the same crowd that loves hybrid vehicles, organic foods and saving the whales and is often derided by conservatives as tree-huggers. The anti-vaxxer movement has scrambled the ideological divide in some ways, lumping crunchy California types with small-government libertarians. It’s helicopter parenting, mixed in with mistrust of science and the government.

While I love seeing progressives toss each other under buses, it is worthwhile to step back and evaluate the situation through less political eyes for a few minutes.

A series of disease outbreaks, including one of whopping cough, caused a 30% increase in cases from January 1-August 16 as compared with the same time period in 2013.In fact, my son’s school just had its first pertussis alert in recent memory.

As is often the case, the reason for the spikes is complex — and does include the steady increase in children not receiving their immunizations and yet being permitted to attend school activities and extracurricular functions. Here is a look at the cases of whooping cough over the years:

LI #23 Pertussis Cases

So, why the jump? Partly, because the need for booster shots has only been recently recognized. Additionally, new strains of the disease do not respond to the vaccine.

However, the bulk of the problem stems from the mainstream media making the vaccine-autism connection without verifying the facts. Here is one of the many interviews with Jenny McCarthy that connected vaccines to autism; keep in mind that CNN is a cable outlet that is not exactly a purveyor of “Tea Party” conservatism.

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The media have promoted the connection between autism and vaccination for many years. Here is a summary of a NOVA episode on the subject:

The assertion that vaccines could be linked to autism burst onto the international stage with the 1998 publication of a paper in the British journal The Lancet. Sensationalist media coverage of the claim followed. The paper, which suggested a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, was eventually retracted in 2010.

So, how to fix another big problem our media created? Name-calling isn’t the solution. It will be a combination of stricter rules for injection exemptions, a wider array of vaccination options, recognizing there are side-effects to the current array of vaccines, encouraging research into new vaccination methods and formulations, and distinguishing between “behavior-based” infections that should not require strict mandates for inoculation, and those diseases that are more easily transmissible…and of course, doing real reporting on actual data.

Once all of this is in place, Americans will be in a position to make fully informed choices that make sense for their specific situations and lifestyles. Ultimately, Tea Party participants tend to be “pro-choice” on matters such as vaccinations. Karen Siegemund, founder of RageAgainstTheMedia.org, offers this perspective on the subject:

Tea Party people are generally for individual choice, and against government regulations, even while most believe strongly in vaccinations. There are, of course, some who prefer to not vaccinate, but by far most Tea Party members from what I see believe that at least some vaccines are good but would rather be left to make that choice on their own.

Someone should really inform the Obama administration and its media lapdogs that not every problem can be solved by a clever hashtag.