UPDATE The original full unedited version of the article is now online again and the 2 cropped versions removed
UPDATE: Shortly after I posted the following blog the article I checked on line and found that the original report from yesterday had been reposted by Megan Fitzpatrick and CANWEST.
The article was modified to omit my comments and those of Dr. Derrick McFabe. The result was to recast the debate as one beween parents and the health care community. For that reason I modified my blog comment title from "refreshingly balanced reporting" to "disturbing reporting". See my next post on this subject for more.
I was pleased to see the balanced reporting by Megan Fitzpatrick of CANWEST NEWS SERVICE in her report on the H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine and a possible autism connection in Flu vaccine rekindles debate over connection to autism. I was interviewed for that article and Ms Fitzpatrick placed me accurately, and fairly, as being in the middle on vaccine autism issues. I no longer accept without questioning the official opinion that vaccines play no role in causing or triggering autism, and I do not believe that parents' observations of their child's development should be dismissed. I believe that more research needs to be done, a belief inspired by several prominent professionals including Dr. Bernadine Healy, Dr. Jon Poling and Dr. Julie Gerberding.
The article reported comments from Dr David Butler-Jones, Canada's chief public health officer, whose voice has been everywhere during this alleged swine flu pandemic. The public positions of Jenny McCarthy are reviewed along with some comments from autism researcher Dr. Derrick McFabe of the University of Western Ontario who stated that parents who believe that their children's autism resulted from vaccinations must be heard.
There have been a string of one sided media reports since the New York Times public relations style interview with Dr Paul Offit. It appears that many journalists have abandoned any pretense of old fashioned objectivity and have chosen to enlist fully in Offit's Army. They repeat ad nauseum his simplistic assertions that the research is "done" and that "science" has conclusively determined that there is no vaccine autism connection. In reading Ms. Fitzpatrick's article it was refreshing to see an honest attempt to convey all sides of the issues from multiple sources.
One omission from my interview that I wish Ms Fitzpatrick had included in her article is that I informed her that my belief that an observational study comparing autism rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations should be done is not my original idea. My belief is based on the statements of Dr. Bernadine Healy, Dr. Julie Gerberding, Dr. Jon Poling and other respected professionals who do see a need to conduct further research on possible vaccine autism issues .... and other possible environmental factors causing or triggering autism disorders. Media narratives invariably portray the vaccine debate as one pitting parents against doctors and professionals without mentioning that some credible health care professionals are of the view that the science is not "done" or concluded on these issues, that more research needs to be conducted.
What might be original in my comments is the notion that we may in fact be undergoing an unintended experiment on some vaccine autism issues with the public health authorities response to the current alleged swine flu pandemic. Not everyone agrees that we are in fact facing such a pandemic. Not everyone will be taking the swine flu vaccine. Those who are targeted - pregnant women and young children, will in some cases be receiving shots which include thimerosal and an adjuvant known as squalene which caused serious harm to Gulf War soldiers. If the young children receiving the shots, and the new born children of women who received the shot while pregnant have significantly higher autism rates than those who do not receive the shots will Offit, health authorities, and most of the mainstream media just ignore that information? Will they continue to decree in very unscientific like manner that the science is closed on these issues?
We will only know the answers if the data is recorded and made known. At this time we do not know if that will be done. We do not know if public health authorities will begin to take autism spectrum disorders, and the parents of children with autism, seriously.
We can only hope.