By Sasha Gonzales
A Bronx candidate for state assembly is espousing views popularized by the discredited ant-vaxxer movement, likening mandating of vaccines for New York schoolkids to life in a “dictatorship,” and calling the life-saving HPV vaccine “poison.”
“Vaccinations of a child should be a parents choice not the state!” Chantel Jackson, State Assemblyman Michael Blake’s choice to replace him as he pursues a congressional seat, wrote in a Nov. 2019 Facebook post.
“We believe in democracy and requiring children to be vaccinated in order to attend school is more like a dictatorship,” Jackson wrote in the post, which blasted a pending bill sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman that would mandate students receive vaccination from human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV.
The virus is transmitted via sexual activity and has been shown to cause deadly cancers. The CDC recommends HPV vaccination for everyone through age 26, if not vaccinated already.
“It makes me question the motive and who profits from making every child in NY take this poison,” Jackson, a social worker, first-time candidate for statewide office, and public school parent, said in her post.
Her remarks were first reported Monday by the Daily News.
The publicizing of Jackson’s statements comes amid an unprecedented international effort to rapidly create and manufacture an effective vaccine for COVID-19, which has killed more than 202,000 people globally, with the Bronx recording the highest death rate in New York City.
As for HPV, the virus has been shown to cause rare cancers like cervical, anal, penile, and vaginal cancers. HPV is the only known cause of cervical cancer, and the scientific evidence showing how it causes the cancer is well established.
About 10,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the U.S., with roughly 3,800 annual deaths reported from the disease, making it the second deadliest cancer to women globally.
According to the CDC, the HPV vaccine – now widely administered – has caused HPV infections and cervical precancers to drop significantly.
Among teen girls, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 86 percent thanks to the vaccine, the agency said.
Among young adult women, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 71 percent since the vaccine began being administered.
And among vaccinated adult women, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer has dropped by 40 percent, government data show.
In a statement posted on Jackson’s Facebook page Monday, her campaign manager Milsa Stein said the candidate stands by her 2019 post.
“Ms. Jackson takes the health and well-being of her community very seriously…In coming to her position on this subject, Ms. Jackson has weighed more than just her personal feelings. Chantel has spoken with other parents who’ve informed her that what they merely want is informed consent. The right to choose for themselves what goes into their children’s bodies; not be told what to do by the government.”
“Ms Jackson is also acutely aware of the serious, life threatening issues posed by COVID-19, and is open to the receipt of more information about available health options to protect individuals as well as the community,” Stein wrote. “Since the state of scientific knowledge about the coronavirus is still in its infancy, it’s irresponsible to pre-determine with absolutes.”