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July 23, 1997

Vaccine Safety, Media Reporting, and Miss America-Reply

Author Affiliations

Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1997;278(4):291. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550040047033

In Reply.  —On September 17, 1994,I was selected as the first Miss America with a disability in the 75-year history of the pageant. Coinciding with the great honor of winning the Miss America title was a firestorm of controversy surrounding my deafness. The war concerning my deafness was waged on 2 fronts. On the one hand, there was a debate about the origin of my deafness and whether it was caused by a routine DTP immunization or by a subsequent bout with Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis. On the other hand, my family's decision to choose the oral method of communication and my subsequent choice to use my voice as opposed to sign language placed me in the center of an argument among deaf organizations, schools, and individuals about what type of training deaf children should receive.As pointed out in the article by Dr Freed and colleagues,1 the debate concerning vaccinations

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