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Activist Says Pandemic Pandemonium Helped Defeat Bill to Vaccinate Kids Without Parental Consent

On Wednesday, Senator Scott Wiener (D) announced that his bill, SB 866, aiming to vaccinate minors without parental knowledge or consent, died on the floor of California’s Assembly without a vote being taken. In a statement, Wiener writes,

“We have made the difficult decision not to call up SB 866 for a vote on the Assembly floor. While the votes are very close, we are several votes short of 41, and we don’t see a viable path for those final few votes.”

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Wiener’s version of the vote tally was publicly refuted on Wednesday by California Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (R) from his official Twitter account writing, “Believe me… it was more than a couple votes short!”

Wiener’s reductive retorts continue; attacking parents who want involvement in their children’s medical care and inadvertently the legislators who would not vote in favor of the bill.

“Sadly, months of harassment and misinformation — including death threats against me and teen advocates — by a small but highly vocal and organized minority of anti-vaxxers have taken their toll. The health of young people will suffer as a result. SB 866 did nothing more than empower young people to protect their own health, even if their parents have been brain-washed by anti-vax propaganda or are abusive or neglectful.”

Long-time medical freedom advocate and co-founder of V is For Vaccine, Joshua Coleman, condemns Wiener’s rhetoric on the opposition efforts led by parents and advocacy groups, telling RedState:

“Wiener saying that antivaxxers harassed them with misinformation is like he is saying the legislators are stupid and that we tricked them.”

Joshua Coleman testifies in opposition to SB 866, May 2022 (Credit: Joshua Coleman)

Coleman says that there was a great phone calling campaign organized by A Voice For Child Advocacy (AVFCA) led by Christina Hildebrand and he attributes the bill dying in part to the success of the calling campaign. According to Fox News, AVFCA’s message centered around minors not knowing their full medical history and the potential risks, and if parents didn’t know that their children received a vaccine on their own, they may not know what is wrong if they experience an adverse reaction. Their message resonated with legislators who are becoming more vaccine-risk conscious. As Wiener laments and casts blame on the opposition for the bill’s unpopularity, Coleman says the Democratic proponents of the bill were sending emails begging for their supporters to make calls to representatives, too. He tells RedState:

“If I was to give credit it would be to AVFCA. But, I think they are figuring it out, many of the legislators are not comfortable with kids being able to make these choices. Phone calls were relevant. On Senator Pan (D) and Wiener’s mailing lists they were begging people to call saying, ‘the anti-vaxxers are calling like crazy, we need your support!’”

Medical Freedom Advocate Joshua Coleman speaks to media at ‘Last Stand’ event at California Capitol organized by V is for Vaccine campaign, September 8, 2021 (Credit: Joshua Coleman)

Recent shifts in the attitudes of Californians and their legislators helped to defeat the bill. Coleman tells RedState that the changes in perspectives regarding vaccines are evident in the outcome, saying:

“They didn’t have the Democrat’s votes when they had the majority. That is a huge positive and a huge shift.”

The upcoming November elections also played a role in the legislators’ decisions, says Coleman, but he doesn’t expect the bill to come back next year citing that the legislators still were not comfortable with the bill even after the age was raised from 12 years old to 15 years old. Current state law allows children as young as 12 to receive HPV and Hep B vaccines without their parents’ consent or knowledge, but not other vaccines. Coleman says the shifts in perspective aren’t only with Democrat legislators but can be seen in the Republicans as well, telling RedState:

 “It’s so positive, the Republicans they’re figuring it out. Republicans back in 2015 and 2019 were voting against the vaccine bills to ‘follow the constitution’, saying, ‘they have their rights’. Now, the Republicans see that they are taking it too far, the pulse on vaccines has now changed. Where people thought 3 years ago that it was like taking a vitamin, now they realize there are risks to vaccinations. Vaccinating is serious, this isn’t like taking a vitamin and now they are realizing it can be dangerous and a serious medical intervention. Everyone knows somebody who reacted poorly to a vaccine.”

Coleman knows about vaccine injury very personally, which prompted his passion for informed consent advocacy. Coleman describes his family’s experiences saying,

“My son was vaccine injured at 17 months old with Transverse Myelitis. That was something I didn’t even know was a possibility; that my son could be paralyzed from a vaccine. Ever since then I’ve been spreading awareness trying to give people informed consent. If people knew about the risks involved and how careless the pharmaceutical companies can be they would make informed decisions.”

At California Capitol, Joshua Coleman opposes Vaccine legislation with his son Otto, who was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis after receiving a vaccine at 17 months old, July 12, 2019 (Credit: Joshua Coleman)

Sharing the messages of informed consent and risk awareness throughout the nation and globally, Coleman is best known for his iconic red-and-black V is for Vaccine signs and his Pan-shirt merch. As the world’s largest vaccine-risk public education organization, VIFV provides guidance and fact-based messaging to activists throughout the world that want to educate the public about the real risks of vaccination. Its endeavors include everything from costume-themed education demonstrations to putting banners with fact-based messages on highway overpasses and large-scale rallies. This year, Coleman published a website, whoispan.com, so the public could learn about California’s vaccine bills and how to oppose them… and why Senator Pan is called a “Liar.”

Senator Pan attends March for Science in Washington DC, Joshua Coleman holds a sign that reads “Liar”, April 22, 2017 (Credit: Joshua Coleman)

Coleman simply wants to be the person he feels he needed at the time he was making the medical choices that resulted in his son’s paralysis, telling RedState:

“I would have been a great person for me to meet, I would have listened and I would have changed my mind. I was interested to know, but I just didn’t know where to look for the information.”

Even when things don’t go in the direction of the grassroots advocacy groups, or when the world is suddenly under government shutdown, Coleman still finds new ways to engage the public. He says at the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns, he initially felt deflated but soon was inspired by the opportunities it presented. Faced with internet censorship and a lack of large public events, Coleman launched new ideas. He created highway awareness campaigns throughout major US cities and internationally. Just days into the pandemic Coleman got to work, he says:

“I went out within a week of lockdowns in March 2020. I had been feeling down like they had won, but I was gonna flip that, and go out and try to put a positive message out. “

The Coronavirus pandemic can be accredited with more awareness, discussion, and consideration for vaccines than Americans have undertaken in recent times. Coleman’s savvy campaigns, energized activists, and the right historical moment contributed both to the public’s awareness of risks and the willingness of others to stand up to policies of coercion and force.

V is for Vaccine informational awareness campaign uses banners above interstate in Utah, October 9, 2020 (Credit: Joshua Coleman)

Coleman says drawing from their personal lessons and the government’s mistakes made during the pandemic, he anticipates more support from the public and elected officials saying,

“We didn’t even have to use it to our advantage this stuff has just blown up in their faces. Last year people were going, ‘I got vaccinated and I got covid twice, but at least it wasn’t as bad as if I didn’t get the vaccine.’ But their friends didn’t get the vaccine and only got it once. It finally started pissing them off and feeling like, ‘I’ve been scammed.’

Going forward, people have a better idea of what they think was the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do. In the beginning, people were scared and didn’t know what the right thing to do was. Now, people will come out stronger against certain things like vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and lockdowns.”

When asked if, with the public gaining more understanding and acceptance of the medical freedom movement’s message, he still felt his advocacy is necessary and relevant, Coleman responds that he thinks his work is more important than ever, saying:

“I think I’m more relevant than ever before. Right now it’s about getting people that information. Public education is more important and more relevant than ever before by informing people about the reactions that they can have to the covid vaccine.”

The act of “getting people that information” became illegal within 30 feet of a vaccine clinic last year in California when legislation authored by Senator Pan was signed into law. Coleman’s friends and allies affectionately dubbed SB 742, “The Joshua Coleman Act” as it aimed to prevent information campaigns similar to the educational demonstrations VIFV was founded upon. The law was immediately challenged in court by pro-life groups and a federal magistrate struck it down last October as an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

While the “vaccinate-without-parents-knowing” bill was defeated on the Assembly floor, Wednesday also marked one legislator’s final day in the legislature. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R) has routinely sided with parents over special interests groups. Coleman said of Kiley:

‘”Kiley has been great he’s always been supportive of our freedoms. He was a good voice and he spoke reason. Even the Republicans sometimes need to hear that voice of reason, it will be interesting to see who replaces that.”

As Kiley moves on, campaigning to represent Californians in Congress, Wiener promises that we can see more of the same from him, saying:

“The anti-vaxxers may have prevailed in this particular fight, but the broader fight for science and health continues. This coalition isn’t going anywhere.”

This ain’t Joshua Coleman’s first rodeo and he vows not to give up the fight for bodily autonomy and informed consent, telling RedState:

“I’m kind of exhausted at this point, it’s been seven years. But now is the time, we’re in the trenches and we’re coming out the other side… I don’t know where we are going to be, but we have to fight.”

At least when the Joshua Colemans of the world have to fight bad policy and overzealous industry, they do it in fantastical costuming, with unadulterated humor, and eye-catching signage. And, every once in a while, they do it so well that legislators break the constitution while trying to break up the party.

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