March 18, 2010
The Autism-Vaccine Controversy Continues
As J.B. said in the March 13, 2010 L.A. Times article “Court Rejects Vaccine Link to Autism”:
“Find me another industry where the U.S. government defends their product in court and funds the science that exonerates them,” said J.B. Handley, a founder of Generation Rescue in Sherman Oaks and father of a child with autism. “The average citizen has no hope.”
It’s important to keep in mind that the Autism Omnibus decisions are not scientific papers. The “special masters” making these decisions are lawyers, not scientists. Their undergraduate degrees are in subjects such as Political Science, Philosophy, and Electrical Engineering. Their legal specialties include tax, patent, tort, and military law. While some seem to think that these decisions should end the controversy, they do not.
These decisions are based on the overriding goal of maintaining the vaccine program without too much liability. This is a travesty of justice. The vaccine court was established in 1986 as an alternative to tort product liability, and it is supposed to be a “no-fault” system which provides benefits to injured children. In the 11/20/2008 article “Vaccine Injury Compensation: A Failed Experiment in Tort Reform?” Barbara Loe Fisher described quite well how this program is failing. (HERE)
There is no doubt that vaccines do injure some babies. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) is a known effect of some vaccines for some children (even listed on some of the vaccine labels, and in the government’s list of accepted adverse reactions HERE). Studies have found inflammation in the brains of people with autism (HERE). But the vaccine court routinely turns down cases where autism is alleged to be caused by vaccines.
The vaccine court accepted the claim of Bailey Banks, who did not claim to be autistic (although he had been diagnosed with autism/PDD). His award was based on his “Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis” including demyelination (the immune system attacking the myelin basic protein coating nerve cells), which was documented in an MRI done soon after his adverse vaccine reaction. Most claimants do not have this kind of evidence because most do not receive prompt MRIs. See the Bailey Banks ruling HERE. Bailey is described as having “speech delays, and social interactive difficulties (e.g., poor eye contact and biting)” and subsequently as “[s]ocially there continues to be difficulty. His eye contact is variable. He has limited to no imaginary pretend play. He continues to bite excessively….” His neurologist said that he would have diagnosed him with autism, except that a cause was known — as if part of the definition of autism is that the cause is unknown, and so if a cause is found, then it is not autism.
Studies have also shown high rates of antibodies to myelin basic protein in people with autism (see HERE). It is quite possible that neuroinflammation is a key factor in much autism, but if you call it “autism” the vaccine court will turn down the case.
The case of Hannah Poling was also accepted, but based on mitochondrial disorder and seizures, not autism although she has been diagnosed with autism.
We constantly hear that the vaccine-autism link has been disproven, and that there is scientific consensus on this, yet Dr. Bernadine Healy (former head of the NIH) says that basic science has not been done due to fear of what might be found out (see HERE and HERE Rather than studying these children whose parents say that their autism began after a round of vaccines, the government is simply ignoring them and summarily denying their claims. The CDC should be studying how many babies are adversely affected by vaccines, how & why these injuries occur, and how to treat these vaccine injuries.
As Dr. Jon Poling wrote, “What is post-vaccination encephalopathy? What are the mechanisms? Is there any treatment? Can it look like ‘autism?’ There are many unknowns here, as no concerted effort has been made to understand the scope of post-vaccination encephalopathy. This leads to the next logical conclusion which is, since science does not understand post-vaccination encephalopathy, then we don’t know what factors could increase or decrease its incidence (thimerosal, aluminum, live virus combinations, diet/metabolic factors, multiplicity of vaccines)…” See Pediatrics HERE.
Barbara Loe Fisher said, “NVIC has been calling for basic science research into the biological mechanisms of vaccine injury and death for more than two decades. Without understanding how and why vaccines can cause brain and immune system dysfunction, there will be no way to develop pathological profiles to help scientifically confirm whether or not an individual has been injured or died from vaccination.”
Our government has also not done a study comparing health outcomes among vaccinated and unvaccinated children. What the CDC has done instead is faulty epidemiological research akin to tobacco science and Vioxx research. One of the key researchers in a Danish study which supposedly exonerated thimerosal was recently found to be on the payroll of Emory University (which is closely affiliated with the CDC) as a fulltime professor even though he was (at the same time) working as a fulltime professor at Aarhus University in Copenhagen. Moreover, he had not disclosed his Emory employment to Aarhus University as required by that U’s policy, and he appears to have absconded with $2 million in research money. (See HERE and HERE.)
Truly, I have always been a level headed trusting person and never prone to government conspiracy theories. But I find this autism-vaccine situation to be quite bizarre. The news coverage has been abominable. As Jake Crosby pointed out, HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius recently told Readers’ Digest, “There are groups out there that insist that vaccines are responsible for a variety of problems despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. We have reached out to media outlets to try to get them to not give the views of these people equal weight in their reporting to what science has shown and continues to show about the safety of vaccines.” (See HERE) In other words, the government is telling the news media not to look at both sides of these issues, to just believe one-sided spin. And they are being all too successful at promulgating this spin.
As reported in the Columbia Journalism Review article “Drug Test” about five years ago, “Journalists agree that the thimerosal story is one of the most explosive they’ve ever encountered… A reporter for a major media outlet, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, told me that covering the thimerosal controversy had been nearly ‘career-ending’ and described butting heads with superiors who believed that the reporter’s coverage – in treating the issue as a two-sided debate – legitimized a crackpot theory and risked influencing parents to stop vaccinating their children or to seek out experimental treatments for their autistic sons and daughters. The reporter has decided against pursuing stories on thimerosal, at least for the time being. ‘For some reason giving any sort of credence to the side that says there’s a legitimate question here – I don’t know how it becomes this untouchable story, I mean that’s what we do, so I don’t understand why this story is more touchy than any story I’ve ever done.’ ” HERE
Also see Polly Tommey’s account of the pressure she has received to not tell Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s side of his story HERE.
Per Dr. Jon Poling “The enormous public benefit of vaccination cannot be used to stifle open discourse on critical vaccine safety issues.”
NPR recently did an interesting story on how the pharmaceutical company Merck (who also make vaccines) created a market for their drug for osteopenia. What is described in this story are the same factors affecting our vaccine program. HERE.
How many babies possibly benefit from a Hepatitis B vaccine on the day of birth? Very few — only those whose mothers are Hep B carriers, yet it is on the schedule for all. What are the risks of giving a newborn baby this vaccine? Unknown. See HERE and HERE. This is the kind of warped weighing of risks and benefits that is impacting our vaccine program. It’s not a matter of all-or-nothing, yet we who raise safety concerns are constantly branded “anti-vaccine”. By that logic, those who raise concerns about out-of-control acceleration in Toyotas are “anti-car”.
It’s also not only a matter of autism. This generation of children has high rates of various immune system disorders. We do not understand the impact of giving 24 vaccines to all babies during the first two years of life, and another dozen before kindergarten – containing substances such as aluminum used as an adjuvant because it stimulates the immune system and formaldehyde which is known to cause inflammation.
– Washington Post – Immune Systems Increasingly on the Attack
– L.A. Times – 4% of Children have Food Allergies
– Los Angeles Times –Chronic health conditions increasing in children, study finds
– Age of Autism – by Mark Blaxill and Barbara Loe Fisher
From Safety Last to Children First: A White Paper ”
Also see this great article Vaccines? Safe. Parents? Dangerous
Our vaccine schedule is overly aggressive. I do believe that some vaccines for some serious prevalent diseases have more benefit than risk. But there is so much that we do not know, including:
– the cumulative long-term effects of so many vaccines
– how many vaccines can be safely given at once,
– what is a safe level of injected aluminum ( see HERE.)
– whether there is any safe level of thimerosal
– to what extent vaccines are contributing to the rate of autism, which has skyrocketed in tandem with the increased vaccine schedule.
Regardless of whether some vaccines may be necessary and good for most people, an important part of the vaccine program must be to understand and deal with adverse effects.
We receive constant denials of a vaccine-autism link accompanied by statements that vague “science” is all-powerful, yet our government and mainstream medicine can provide no answers as to what causes autism or how to medically treat it.
In spite of all the powerful forces trying to keep a lid on vaccine problems, if the vaccine program continues as is, more and more families will be affected – some with various kinds of power and/or expertise such as politicians, doctors, scientists, celebrities, and writers. Parents who have witnessed vaccine reactions in their children are passionate and unendingly tenacious. This controversy is far from over.
Twyla Ramos and her husband have three children, one with autism.