Local band draws controversy with anti-vaccine song

SEATTLE -- A local band's controversial song is taking the Internet by storm, but the band's message has some health officials warning listens about the lyrics.

The Refusers make funk rock with a message.

The message is that parents can refuse vaccines for their children. Their title song is a rip on the Hippocratic Oath doctors take to practice medicine ethically, to "first do no harm."

Just a week after posting their music video to Youtube, the clip has had more than 260,000 hits and the band is trending on social media.

Lead singer Michael Belkin has been warning about vaccines since the 1990s, when he lived through the unthinkable.

"Our first child, (we) took her to her pediatrician and she said, 'Bring her in for shots,' and she died after her first vaccine at the age of five weeks. Hepatitis B vaccine, she died within hours," Belkin said.

Desperate to reach fellow parents, Belkin turned to music.

"I'm not telling parents what to do," he said. "It's everyone's own decision they should make for themselves, but you do have the right to say yes or say no."

Like the state of Washington, King County's Dr. Jeff Duchin recommends all kids get vaccinated. He discourages exemptions and said 4,000 children died every year from Pertussis until a vaccine was developed. That number dropped to just a handful after the vaccine was introduced.

"It's clear if you look at the numbers of deaths and hospitalizations prevented by vaccination, that vaccination is a very effective way of protecting the body," Duchin said.

Doctors like Duchin say the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks, but Belkin isn't willing to risk it and said his son, who has never been vaccinated, is living proof that vaccines aren't needed.

Local public health officials say many of the county's pertussis cases involve children who have not been vaccinated or haven't updated their shots.