Saturday, June 06, 2009

Vaccine-Autism War : Will Vaccine Safety Make A Comeback?

The Offit Offensive branding parents concerned about vaccine safety issues as kooks, dangerous to the public health, and suppressing democratic discussion of vaccine safety issues by attributing disease increases to parents expressing such concerns has been been unrelenting since the release of the vaccine patent holder's book False Prophets. David Kirby, one of those vilified by Offit for raising vaccine safety concerns, reports in the Huffington Post that the highly influential National Vaccine Advisory Committee has this past week made a number of vaccine safety research recommendations including two that focus on possible vaccine-autism connections. The Offit Offensive may finally meet an opponent it can not dismiss with demeaning insults and unproven allegations. The Offit Offensive may encounter open minded, credible study of vaccine safety issues.

One recommendation is for an "observational study comparing vaccinated, unvaccinated, and "alternatively vaccinated" groups of children for a number of immunological and neurological disorders -- including autism." A second panel recommendation that could include vaccine autism issues was that "Consideration should be given to broad biomedical research including laboratory studies, and animal studies."

Kirby also reports that the NVAC recommendations are subject to external review by an agency such as the IOM, the Institutes of Medicine. Unfortunately this could result in the implementation of recommendations being unduly delayed or scuttled completely. It was the same IOM that issued a 2004 report which expressly discouraged further research of vaccine autism issues.

Kirby attributes the NVAC recommendations to a number of sources without singling out the names of specific individuals. Personally I believe that three people deserve special credit for the vaccine safety issues being taken seriously. Jenny McCarthy, mocked and vilified, at times cruelly, for her campaign for vaccine safety acted as a lightning rod for media attention to the issues. Whether positive or negative the comments about Ms. McCarthy have kept the issue in the realm of public discussion. To the same effect David Kirby himself has been a powerful voice offering the skills and ability of a professional journalist to document the issue fully for public consumption. Neither Ms. McCarthy nor Mr. Kirby have buckled under to the immense pressure exerted by Dr. Offit and the medical establishment.

Ultimately though I believe that it is the input of Dr. Bernadine Healy that has had the most influence in arriving at the NVAC (and IACC) recommendations for further vaccine autism safety and general vaccine safety research. As the former head of the NIH Dr. Healy could not be dismissed as a crackpot. Her presentation of the need for further vaccine autism research was clear, cogent and compelling. She risked disenfranchisement from the medical and research establishments by pointing out the need for vaccine safety research. Her specific recommendations are clearly identifiable in the two NVAC recommendations above as well as her focus on vulnerable population subsets and the inadequacy of the epidemiological studies in examining the possible impact of vaccines on such groups.

The mainstream media is still enrolled in the Offit Offensive dismissing any need for vaccine safety research and dismissing as kooks anyone who suggests that there should be discussion and research of vaccine safety issues generally or vaccine autism issues specifically. The IACC strategic research plan and now the NVAC recommendations are powerful counter forces to the Offit offensive. Hopefully they will carry the day.

There should be no illusions though. The attempt to prevent research of vaccine autism safety issues is not over. The vaccine autism war is not over. The IOM, if it conducts an external review will be mindful, if not bound, by its own 2004 report discouraging the type of research recommended by the NVAC.

Look too for vaccine patent holder Dr. Paul Offit to step up his media tours demeaning those who dare ask questions of vaccine safety. Dr. Offit will once again don his "regular guy" flannel shirts and grandfatherly sweaters for interviews by adoring mainstream media. And Neurodiversity bloggers will be counted on to echo his demeaning characterizations of concerned parents around the world wide web.

If the IOM does do a replay of its 2004 strategy of discouraging serious research of vaccine safety issues it will be making a very big mistake. It is time to end the vaccine-autism war. Let the research be done, let the concerns be address and if those concerns are upheld or new ones found, let the vaccines and vaccine programs be adjusted accordingly.

Bookmark and Share


farmwifetwo said...

I don't believe that vaccines caused either child's autism. BUT, after the first MMR shot my eldest son had a fever for a week and broke out in red spots = rubella. I was told this wasn't possible. YET, they had us shuttled into a room quickly at the Dr's incase he did have rubella... I'm thinking I was lied to....

2nd MMR shot he couldn't walk on the leg that it was given in for 3 days it was so swollen and painful.

There will not be another MMR booster without a blood test to see if it's necessary or not.

I believe nothing is "safe" for everyone. Even the most organic piece of lettuce out there is still dangerous for someone to eat. I have no issues for a full review of vaccines, their patents, their compositions. Do we not change treatments for all illnesses/diseases/surgeries as the years go on??? A few short years ago this 3" hole in my leg and bone sliver (steel projectile from the lawnmower) would have had me bed for atleast a week... I was told to walk on it as soon as I could.... changes???? Doesn't the medical community not "tweak" how patients are treated to make them better, faster?? Why not vaccines.

My children have had their "paid for shots" plus meningitus and have had chicken pox by coming into contact with a child who had gotten it.... after he had the vaccine.


Claire said...

Was there not a time when doctors practiced some discretion with regards to their patients? I was born in '61, at a time when there were far fewer vaccines...but I reacted mightily to them all. Lots of swelling, fever, the doctor only ever gave me quarter doses and skipped some of the vaccines...I never even got the small pox vac. because he felt it was unsafe for me. Does this not happen anymore? Is it really prudent to keep pumping a kid full of stuff that is CLEARLY making him/her very, very ill? What about common sense? Can a doctor really look a parent in the eye and say that frequent and obvious serious reactions to vaccines cannot cause any damage at all of any sort? Stupid.

Louise Kuo Habakus said...

I'll be giving a lecture on Vaccine Choices in North Brunswick, NJ on 6/14/09 starting at 6:30pm at the Omega Diner. Please bring a friend and find out more about vaccine safety and efficacy, informed consent, legitimate exemptions to vaccination and the four new shots mandated by the state of NJ starting last Fall.

Unknown said...

My son had a severe reaction to his 15 month MMR shot(or any of the other mupltiple shots he got that day).

The day after his shots, we stopped walking. He wouldn't be able to walk normally for almost two weeks. He'd just bump into walls and crawl around in a circle like he was drunk. He lost all his acquired speech and didn't say another word or make much noise/sounds for about 5-6 months after that day.

David said...


There is some data that MMR vaccines can cause hearing loss. The sad thing is, however, as I discuss in my blog post on vaccines, that the reporting system simply is not as good as it should be.

Your son suffered symptoms that may not even be reportable officially.