Shedding Light in the Darkness

Vaccine Billboards in the Bay Area


An anti-vaccine billboard, paid for by the Council for Vaccine Safety, across the street from Hoover Elementary School in North Fair Oaks on Wednesday, Feb. 3 2016. (Aaron Kinney/Bay Area News Group)

Billboards questioning the safety of vaccines have popped up over the past couple of months from Berkeley and San Francisco to North Fair Oaks, a largely Latino community in southern San Mateo County. More went up in January in the San Jose area to coincide with Super Bowl 50, which has drawn tens of thousands of visitors to the South Bay.

The billboards, paid for by a nonprofit called the Council for Vaccine Safety, proclaim that vaccines pose serious health risks. One South Bay sign declares, “There’s no such thing as a safe vaccine.” Another reads, “You may be just one shot away from chronic illness.”

The billboards are the brainchild of Brandy Vaughan, founder of the Council for Vaccine Safety. “We’re no longer the land of the free if we give up the choice of what we put in our body,” said Vaughan, who lives in Santa Barbara but is moving back to her native Bay Area. “My goal is to educate the public and encourage people to do their own research and connect the dots.”

The seeds of Vaughan’s crusade were sown in the early 2000s, when she worked as a sales representative for Merck & Co., selling Vioxx for the pharmaceutical giant. Merck recalled the arthritis drug in 2004 in response to research that ultimately linked Vioxx to as many as 38,000 fatal heart attacks.


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