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Oklahoma doctors' battle over vaccine safety results in lawsuit, threats

A battle over Informed Consent has turned into a lawsuit.
A battle over Informed Consent has turned into a lawsuit.
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This story is not about whether or not vaccines are safe.

"There is no association between vaccines and autism," said Dr. Eve Switzer.

This story is about what happens

"I do think there is an association with autism,' said Dr. Jim Meehan.

...when the debate about that topic gets out of control.

"I was threatened that my kids would be forcefully vaccinated," said Meehan.

"I've had people write on social media that I needed a bullet in my brain," said Switzer.

Our story begins with an article Switzer wrote for a pediatric newsletter.

"Vaccines are probably one of the most important things that I do as a pediatrician," she said.

And when it comes to the flu vaccine, she says, she noticed her staff was singling it out from other vaccines.

"We were guilty of treating the flu vaccine differently than treating all of the other vaccines that we normally recommend," she said.

And that, she worried, could be sending the wrong message about the flu shot. So her staff was instructed not to give it special treatment.

"We recommend the flu shot as strongly as every other vaccine that we give," she said.

And that, she thought, was the point and end of the story.

But Dr. Jim Meehan says he was disturbed when he read it.

"I thought it was a very careless newsletter for a doctor to write," said Meehan. "She was lamenting the burden, the onerous burden, of having a discussion about the flu vaccine."

What also troubled him was a part that described an upset mother who only realized after the fact that her child had been given the flu shot, even though months earlier she said she didn't want it.

"My opinion is, this does not represent informed consent in modern day medicine," said Meehan.

Switzer maintains that the parent was notified before the shot was given and that she has a signed statement from the parent to that effect.

"So do the parents know before the shots are given, what shots their kids are going to get?" we asked.

"Yes, they are provided with that, all the information prior to me even coming into the room," said Switzer.

The newsletter, however, took on a life of its own.

"I had no idea that this type of attack would happen," said Switzer.

A Facebook post by Oklahomans for Vaccine and Health Choice stated that Switzer made it known "she does not ask for parent's consent prior to giving children a flu vaccine," which in turn set off a firestorm

  • "This person plays God. Beware."
  • "You disgusting, vile POS"
  • "Have you ever heard of Informed Consent?"

Those were just some of the comments that followed.

"Oh they made it seem like that I was not obtaining informed consent in my office," she said.

"She needs to be shamed for her arrogance, reported to the Oklahoma medical board for unethical behavior and removed from the practice of medicine for her negligence," wrote Meehan.

"You said that?" we asked.

"I believe I did say that," he said.

The slings and arrows would soon fly in both directions.

"Protective orders, separation, divorce, foreclosures, breach of contract, I was a bit horrified at the list that someone sent to me. Apparently it's easily searchable," wrote Switzer.

"You threw that at him because?" we asked.

"Because he brought up my court cases," said Switzer.

"This conversation got ugly at various times. It got very ugly," said Meehan.

"Oh yes, yeah it has been personal," said Switzer.

"My faith, my Christianity, even my kids have been attacked, and that makes me angry," said Meehan.

"I've been subjected to ridicule and threats and even ethnic slurs on the Internet, on social media," said Switzer.

She has filed a lawsuit for defamation.

From science to "see you in court." Vaccines and vitriol.

"I would like for the records to be set straight," said Switzer.

"There are counter suits that are quite possible," said Meehan.

Tulsa's Channel 8 contacted Oklahomans for Vaccine and Health Choice who provided the following statement:

It is our opinion that Dr. Eve Switzer's lawsuit has no merit. Dr. Switzer has entered the political debate concerning vaccinations and informed consent by making public statements about her own practices as a physician, and by making public statements about prospective legislation concerning the areas of informed consent and vaccination protocol. As a political action committee, we often express our opinion on different areas of health choice, and the area of informed consent is no exception. Our statements in response to Dr. Switzer’s actions and publications, like all of our statements relating to matters of health choice, are simply expressions of our opinions on matters of public concern and, therefore, are not subject to legal action.
Oklahomans for Vaccine and Health Choice -PAC

The group is also raising money for a defamation suit of its own.

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