The lack of data to support a connection between vaccine and autism makes sense given the increasing body of information concerning when the neurobiological differences associated with autism first occur: before birth, not after.
AZT and other anti-retrovirus drugs can decrease the risk of maternal-child transmission to very low levels and is responsible for the plummeting rate of cases of AIDS among children; for an HIV-positive mother to refuse to use it is tantamount to child abuse and exposes the deficiencies in the child welfare system. And right in the thick of this story is an old friend, with whom Orac has tussled before over his posts to the Huffington Post: Dr. Jay Gordon, who apparently was one of the doctors who treated Eliza Jane.
I do not believe that Dr Viera Scheibner's claims regarding DTP and measles immunisation are supported by the available scientific evidence. On the contrary, the evidence strongly supports the view that the benefit of these significantly outweighs the risks. In addition I believe that the gaps in her research in this area call into question her objectivity and cast doubts on her ability to speak as an expert witness. It should be a matter of great concern that material such as Dr Scheibner's is being promoted by groups who ostensibly argue for the right of parents to make up their own minds. How can parents be expected to do this when they are being denied access to so much information?
There is a high probability that parents will encounter elaborate antivaccination material on the world wide web. Factual refutational strategies alone are unlikely to counter the highly rhetorical appeals that shape these sites.
When anti-vaccination alarm takes hold-characterized by sudden attacks of the media, mistaken researchers, fervent religious groups, and alternative medicine quacks-the infected society begins to make horrid, whoppingly bad decisions. There is, as yet, no Latin name for this peculiar social disease.
The British Vaccination Act of 1840 was the first incursion of the state, in the name of public health, into traditional civil liberties. The activities of today's propagandists against immunisations are directly descended from, indeed little changed from, those of the anti-vaccinationists of the late nineteenth century.
Organized international efforts to scare the living tar out of parents of small children have just been dealt a stunning setback with the retraction of an influential but fraudulent article in a major medical journal. To the extent the retraction is publicized, it should prevent sickness and possible death in kids and help shove anti-vaccination groups back into the conspiracy theory cesspool from whence they arose.
This entire volume of hate mail came from a column I wrote on the myth of the autism link to childhood vaccination. Talk about bringing the nuts out of the woodwork! "we all know why you illuminati/eli lilly shills like vaccines don't we" "You had better get on your computer and go to www.drcarley.com." "Such massive ignorance I have yet to behold in a reporter as in your article." "i have read all of your articles about vaccines and autism and i have reached a point this evening that i need to e-mail you or explode!" " You are so blind and so stupid."
The potential for the media to damage public confidence in immunization was demonstrated in the UK in 1974 when a television documentary showing two children with severe neurological damage allegedly from the pertussis vaccine was followed by a dramatic reduction in immunization rates, followed by a serious pertussis epidemic.
The Virginia Chapter of the National Autism Association is holding a conference this Saturday that will explore "Recent Advances in the Biology of Autism." The conference comes at a time when the possibility of a link between thimerosol in vaccinations and autism has received a lot of attention in the Charlottesville area and the nation. The Hook's April 7 cover story by Coy Barefoot and Alison Bell took a deep look at the issue, and New York Times science writer David Kirby came to town on April 17 to discuss his new book, Evidence of Harm. We've produced a story that takes a quick look at the issue in advance of the conference.
To our surprise, we had wandered into a hornet's nest of moral intimidation. In letters and e-mails we've since been accused of "fraud," a "terrorist act," and of having an "industry profit promoting agenda." We've been told we belong to a vast conspiracy--including researchers, pediatricians, corporations, health officials and politicians--devoted to poisoning their children. A few have harassed our secretaries and threatened an editorial writer.
The linkage of vaccines to neurological disorders comes through the promotion of an auto-immune process, triggered by the virus present in the vaccine together with the adjuvant used to sensitize the body to this virus.
For lucky Westerners measles is not much of a problem but in developing countries poor nutrition and weak health care make it a killer. In a world where international travel has become commonplace, an increase in measles in the West heightens the risk of deadly epidemics in poor countries. So far, international health agencies have remained steadfast in their backing for MMR. But a UK survey showed that misleading coverage of the MMR scare meant only one in four people were aware that most studies showed no link between the vaccine and autism. Negative stories tend to stick and our increasingly networked world means they also tend to spread.
The NVIC professes the pursuit of safer vaccines. While no one disputes the desirability of having the safest vaccines possible, Ms. Fisher disseminates information that seems to question the value of all vaccines. Far from just advocating safer vaccines, Ms. Fisher seems to reflexively oppose all immunizations irregardless of benefit.
If vaccines have always been something you went along with because you were told they are absolutely necessary for the sake of the health of yourself or your child, I suggest that you be prepared for the Lord to guide you in new ways, a new aspect, and new thinking. What priority are you going to give Him in something that may appear to be as simple as the issue of vaccines?
Parents want the best for their children. Unfortunately a worryingly strong message is going out to parents to "play-it-safe" and avoid vaccination. On the other hand for a parent nothing could be more heart-rending than seeing a child severely damaged by a disease that could so easily have been prevented by a simple vaccine.
Focus group findings indicated that parents rarely refused vaccines but occasionally resisted specific vaccines. Parents who were unsure about vaccinating were open to discussions about vaccines with a trusted provider. Most of these parents agreed to immunize after discussing concerns with their provider. Providers indicate low vaccine refusal rates within offices of traditional primary care providers and in public health clinics.
Undervaccinated children tended to be black, to have a younger mother who was not married and did not have a college degree, to live in a household near the poverty level, and to live in a central city. Unvaccinated children tended to be white, to have a mother who was married and had a college degree, to live in a household with an annual income exceeding $75 000, and to have parents who expressed concerns regarding the safety of vaccines and indicated that medical doctors have little influence over vaccination decisions for their children.
The evidence suggests that overstimulation of the systemic immune system, as by repeated inoculations spaced close together, can result in chronic activation of brain microglia, the nervous system's immuneme chanism.
A further reason for the refusal of vaccination is the anxiety about the possible risks associated with receiving the vaccines. In other words there is the pressure, especially in industrialised countries, from organised groups opposing the practice of vaccination and spreading alarmist and often inaccurate information. For example, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that the presence of thiomerosal in vaccines can be linked to the increase in autism or that there is any link between autism and the anti-measles vaccination. If the tendency not to vaccinate children becomes more pronounced over the coming years, it could result in serious consequences for public and individual health. It should be remembered that many children still die from preventable infectious diseases and connected pathologies not only in the so-called "poor" countries, but also in other nations. In Europe, the political, social and economic changes that took place following the fall of the Berlin Wall have led to a decline in the levels of immunization in many regions of Eastern and Central Europe, resulting in thousands of new cases of diseases such as diphtheria.
The most commonly found content claims were that vaccines cause idiopathic illness (100% of sites), vaccines erode immunity (95%), adverse vaccine reactions are underreported (95%), and vaccination policy is motivated by profit (91%). The most common design attributes were the presence of links to other antivaccination sites (100%of sites), information for legally avoiding immunizations (64%), and the use of emotionally charged stories of children who had allegedly been killed or harmed by vaccines (55%). Antivaccination Web sites express a range of concerns related to vaccine safety and varying levels of distrust in medicine. The sites rely heavily on emotional appeal to convey their message.
What concerns me more is the headway the anti-vaccination attitude has been making lately, because you don't need to be HIV-positive for a common illness to be dangerous. (Maggiore's two children, of course, were unvaccinated.) When I was five, my mother was hospitalized and almost died from a flu that turned into pneumonia. My ex-husband's mother did die, when he was the same age, of the same thing. My grandmother was around 11 during the 1918 Spanish-flu epidemic. She caught it, all her hair fell out, and she liked to recall how she passed the time lying in bed embroidering a beautiful silk scarf to cover her head when she returned to school.
The real story is that the autism epidemic is a myth: a combination of skewed statistics, junk science and incomplete reporting... "The [autism] diagnosis is being used more broadly than it used to be. There are some very non-specific diagnoses that have been used in the past: 'behavioral disorder,' for example," says the CDC's Roebuck. "There are kids who 20 years ago would not have been called autistic who now are being called autistic, but they are the same kids."
The real conspirators here are the Kennedys of the world, the 150 websites, and all those desperate to kill off childhood vaccinations. Sadly, they're also killing off kids. As more frightened parents refuse to have their children vaccinated, "'hot spots' are cropping up across the U.S.," observed a recent article in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, such that "outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, mumps, rubella and diphtheria are reoccurring, costing hundreds of lives and hospitalizing thousands more."
While browsing through the literature on autism and thimerosal, I ran across a number of articles by the father-son team of Mark and David Geier. The elder Geier is a geneticist; the younger will soon graduate or has recently graduated from medical school. Together, they have written over ten papers on autism, vaccines and thimerosal. The source of Geier and Geier's "data" for much of this flock of publications is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database. And thereby hangs a tale...
For every parent eager to "recover" their child and "lose the diagnosis," there are autistic citizens who will always have the diagnosis and will always wear the label, and who are affected by the manner in which that label is bandied about by those who hate what it represents to them.
Most children with nonmedical exemptions received at least some vaccines. The most common vaccine not received was varicella.The most common reason stated for requesting exemptions was concern that the vaccines might cause harm. Parents of exempt children were significantly more likely than parents of vaccinated children to report low perceived vaccine safety and efficacy, a low level of trust in the government, and low perceived susceptibility to and severity of vaccine-preventable diseases. Parents of exempt children were significantly less likely to report confidence in medical, public health, and government sources for vaccine information and were more likely to report confidence in alternative medicine professionals than parents of vaccinated children.
This should be given as an example of how quackery has infiltrated vaccine etiology of autism theory advocates. This is particularly the case as the moderator of that group supported the Homeopath by citing non autism studies of Homeopathies effectiveness... In conclusion that post to EoHarm is an example of the inroads of alternative medicine into the vaccine etiology theory of autism camp. The arguments presented within are primarily fallacious. It is to be hoped that the inroads of quackery into the ranks of the vaccine etiology of autism theory advocates will not continue.
Wendy Callahan, a concerned mother from Hawthorne, FL, has purchased billboard space in Marion County, where she has erected a huge sign urging parents to "Love Them, Protect Them, Never Inject Them." The billboard, which Callahan hopes to leave up for an entire year, claims that vaccines can cause autism, chronic ear infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Unfortunately, the mere suggestion of risk can have a very profound effect on people's choices. If the current media blitz continues, parents may be left with the impression that their children are safer if left unvaccinated, and this dangerous misinformation could lead to a resurgence of deadly pathogens which are currently kept at bay by immunization... Successful vaccination programs in the U.S. have all but eliminated diseases such as measles, polio, and Hib meningitis, which used to cause thousands of deaths and disabilities each year. Hopefully parents with concerns will go to their pediatricians for advice, because the proven benefits of vaccines are too numerous to place on one billboard.
My colleagues and I at the International Child Development Resource Center have been involved in describing and/or treating this disorder from its biological roots, as opposed to the genetic and psychiatric perspectives... Therefore, our insights contribute primarily to an understanding of the immunology and toxicology of this condition.
Harris Coulter has formal training in education from Columbia. Mr. Coulter has, however, ZERO training in the health sciences, ZERO health research experience, and has NEVER published in any scientific journal. As such he has no standing or credibility in the scientific community.
These days, it's highly unusual for any young child to die of AIDS. What makes Eliza Jane's death more striking is that her mother is a high-profile leader in a movement that challenges the basic medical understanding and treatment of AIDS... She didn't vaccinate either child, believing the shots did more harm than good. She rejected AZT and other anti-AIDS medications as toxic. "I see no evidence that compels me that I should have exposed a developing fetus to drugs that would harm them," she said.
The "Bird Flu" HOAX is only one part of an enormous plan to allow a select few to Rule the World and enslave or annihilate the rest! This is HOW One Wicked Nation, the United States of America, Can Kill Billions Around the World - - - With One Lie!
This study once again hammers home the inherent unreliability of the VAERS database as a tool for longitudinal studies of the rate of vaccine-related complications. Not only can anyone access it and enter reports without verification, but there is no denominator, which means testing for causality is not even possible with VAERS. Worse, as the authors point out, the rate of reporting of autism as a complication of vaccines is easily influenced by numerous external factors. For example, the authors pointed out that 75% of the autism reports in VAERS between 1990 and 2001 were received not long after the the publication of the the now utterly and completely discredited Wakefield study that claimed to find a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and that 2/3 were received after the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that thimerosal be removed from vaccines. And it's not just autism. For example, in 2002, half the reports to the VAERS database about mental retardation were related to litigation.
Some of the comments coming from Generation Rescue's 'Rescue Angels' are getting scarier and scarier... "Anyone who is not chelating to get rid of the mercury is guilty of child abuse. Every doctor who is not telling their patients to chelate is guilty of malpractice." ... Now aside from the factual errors, isn't that the most frighteningly, almost fascist, shivers-down-your-spine-hair-stand-on-end-uh-oh-here-come-the-fundie-whacko's genuinely disturbing thing you've read in awhile?
One thing the mercury-autism crowd goes out of its way to claim is that it's not "anti-vaccine." However, their rhetoric on the issue of mercury as a suspected cause of autism belies that claim, as does their association with others whose rhetoric is even more heated, calling autism a "silent Holocaust" and those who consider the evidence being touted as "proof" of a link between mercury in vaccines in autism "autism holocaust deniers." Even at best, their overheated hype of very weak to nonexistent evidence for mercury in childhood vaccines as an etiological agent resulting in autism encourages the real anti-vaccination crowd, making the anti-thimerosal activists in some cases "useful idiots" to the true cause of eliminating vaccines. At their worst, they encourage quackery and the peddling of bogus "cures" for autism like chelation therapy to desperate parents.
In 1988, Dr. A.J. Wakefield and his colleagues described a case series of 12 patients at a referral clinic in England, all of whom presented with inflammatory bowel disease and autism. They hypothesized that in some children the MMR vaccine provokes inflammation of the intestine, which permits toxins to leak into the bloodstream, and thence into the brain, where they cause the damage that shows up as autism. Panic ensued, with the anti-vaccination lunatic fringe -- helped by the sensation-seeking media -- orchestrating a campaign against MMR. Assurances by governments that the triple vaccine was safe were ignored; and where vaccination rates have declined, there have been outbreaks.
Other than UFOs, there may be no hotter topic for conspiracy theorists than the claim that childhood vaccines cause autism. There are more than 150 Web sites devoted to fingering various vaccines for the severe neurological disorder. Many blame a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal, used in some vaccines, while others blame the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, although it never used thimerosal. The only commonality is that autism appears shortly after the period during which childhood vaccinations are given. The theorists take this "post hoc" fallacy, add suggestive quotations (often taken out of context), toss in a few "experts" and claim cover-up -- so far, unconvincingly.
Dr Andrew Wakefield defends his case against the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine on the grounds that he 'trusts and believes' parents who are convinced that MMR caused their children's autism. As a parent of an autistic son, I know that we are the last people who should be regarded as a reliable source of scientific information about this condition.
Our findings provide strong evidence of a causal relation between movements against whole-cell pertussis vaccine and pertussis epidemics, based on Hill's criteria: strength of association... consistency of findings under different surveillance systems, time periods, and populations; specificity of infection affecting primarily unvaccinated or undervaccinated individuals; temporal relation; biological gradient; plausibility that vaccination is protective, that herd immunity suppresses transmission, and that successful disease-control encourages complacency; coherence of evidence, i.e., no conflict with the natural history of pertussis; and experimental evidence plus analogy, e.g., smallpox eradication, in which high vaccine coverage prevents disease through mass vaccination and surveillance containment strategies.
Return to the monovalent vaccines may be appropriate until proposed alternatives are developed and perfected. Aerosolized measles and measles-rubella vaccines have been widely tested and found to produce significantly greater immune responses with less potential side-effects than that resulting from the injected vaccines.
While vaccination critics have succeeded in getting the authorities to switch to safer vaccines in some cases, the process has been slow and incomplete. The federal advisory committees are still being run like a private club of drug company insiders.
So many studies absolve vaccines of blame in autism or disease. Does this stop the anti-vax people? Hell no! They want more research and they want it to keep coming until something is found or the money runs out.
Discussion of the anti-vaccination bias of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.
More problematic are possible financial motives Dr. Classen may have. Dr. Classen's own website (as of 5/99) has the following interesting quote: "Classen Immunotherapies believe that its technology is essential technology based on the large unnecessary risk of developing IDDM using current technology. The cost savings as well as laws governing safety of pharmaceuticals will force all vaccine manufacturers to utilize Classen Immunotherpies' proprietary technology."
In February 1998, the Lancet medical journal triggered a global scare when it published research claiming a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella triple vaccine and autism. The researchers' leader, Dr Andrew Wakefield called for the vaccine to be "suspended". Six years later, an investigation by Brian Deer revealed that there was more here than met the eye.
Real doctors know, of course, vaccine-fuelled faux-controversies are not unique to New Zealand. In the US, a similar non-debate to the one taking place here has been on whether vaccines cause childhood autism. Here again, the actual conversation involves only a tiny fringe of anti-capitalist types and some ideologically sympathetic news editors, along with this being America the trial lawyers, who have somehow convinced 4100 vulnerable parents to bring a risible class-action suit against the pharmaceutical industry.
Kirby's account of the tantrums and tirades of anti-mercury campaigners suggests that there is some danger that the public's good will is being abused and exploited as a license to behave badly. He reports the experience of the Wall Street Journal, which found itself confronted with a 'hornets' nest of moral intimidation' when it published a critical commentary on the anti-thimerosal campaign. Journalists received threats and harassment, and prominent supporters of childhood immunisation were 'targeted as baby-killers and compared to Hitler' (5).
Symptoms of autism are first noted by parents as their child begins to have difficulty with delays in speaking after age one. MMR vaccine is first given to children at 12-15 months of age. The most logical explanation is coincidence, not cause and effect.
It has been suggested that there is a new condition called Regressive Autism where a child seems to be developing normally but starts to show signs of autism between 1 and 3 years of age - where children lose skills like speech and actions, after MMR. This has been studied and it has been proved that the proportion of autistic children with regression is the same whether they have had MMR or not, and that there has been no increase in the proportion with regression after MMR was introduced.
In recent months, the fight over thimerosal has become even more bitter. In response to a barrage of threatening letters and phone calls, the centers for disease control has increased security and instructed employees on safety issues, including how to respond if pies are thrown in their faces. One vaccine expert at the centers wrote in an internal e-mail message that she felt safer working at a malaria field station in Kenya than she did at the agency's offices in Atlanta.
People who oppose immunisation usually do so because of a view of the way doctors and drug companies operate, rather than an assessment of the facts. So concludes a study from the University of Sydney.
These are not isolated examples, but are typical of how these Web sites use scientific citations. Obviously, the activists making these claims are yelling "Fire!" when there is none. What disturbs me the most is that there seems to be no internal self-criticism in the anti-immunization community. The most obvious lies go unchallenged.
What forms the background to current MMR panic, is this: the more successful public health campaigns are in marginalising disease, the more their success goes unnoticed and their credibility diminished.
Dedicated to helping the public make informed and intelligent decisions about childhood and adult vaccines.
These people need the herd immunity, it is their only protection. A small number of healthy people can freeload in this group also. But once more than a few start doing it, the whole thing breaks down. The lack of vaccination in Nigeria allowed the disease to gain hold and it spread to other countries where the disease had been eradicated, and presumably they had ceased full vaccination.
Although the actual number of proponents of the antivaccination movement is unknown, the efforts of a dedicated minority coupled with declining public awareness of the seriousness of vaccine preventable diseases may set the stage for the erosion of an important cornerstone of public health. Physicians should be aware of this growing movement and consider offering anticipatory guidance to parents about questionable material on the Internet. Research clarifying the relationship between alternative health care beliefs and immunization practices is urgently needed.
Vaccination critic newsletter.
Parents who don't want their children vaccinated would have to attend an "immunization education session" under a proposed state policy, and write what appears to be an essay on why their kids shouldn't be vaccinated. The policy is supposed to clarify problems with the existing laws, but critics say it has grown more convoluted the more bureaucrats study it.
Another example of convergent evolution springs to mind. The vaccine/autism causation hypothesis. A few parents observed an apparent regression into autism around the time their children received routine childhood vaccines. In the UK, the theory that persistent measles infection in the GI tract was causing symptoms of autism began to evolve. In the US a group of parents were busy looking over the list of ingredients in several vaccines when they saw something called thimerosal on the list. An internet search revealed thimerosal as a chemical compound of mercury. The idea of autism as a novel form of mercury began to evolve. Many years later both hypotheses have taken on a life of their own and evolved to incorporate new findings from mainstream autism research. Both are still short on scientific evidence but continue to exploit a niche where the vaccine autism connection enjoys popular support. Strangely the two groups have commingled and exchanged ideas and they are showing signs of converging in to a single entity.
It's not surprising at all that parents prone to antivaccination beliefs have family histories of illness or an interest in alternative medicine such as homeopathy, as much of "alternative medicine" is hostile to vaccination. It's also quite common for religious beliefs to play a role. However, I would quibble somewhat with whether that apparent "sophisticated" understanding of the issues involved is actually as sophisticated as it appears on the surface. In some cases it may be, but far more often it's a superficial understanding that has little depth, mainly because few lay people have the detailed scientific and medical background to apply the information.
In an industrialised country such as the USA, those choosing exemption from statutorily compulsory vaccination were 35-times more likely to contract measles than vaccinated persons (in developing countries where these viruses are still endemic, the risk would be considerably higher).
Vaccine scaremongering is on the increase. The problem is that more people experience vaccine side effects if mass vaccination programs are in place, even though this often leads to a very small incidence of potentially life threatening diseases. This creates the ideal environment for vaccine scare stories to flourish.
The US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a passive reporting system to which anyone can report an event. Publicity related to potential adverse events may change reporting patterns. The objective of this paper is to show how litigation-related reports have influenced the trends in possible adverse event reports to VAERS. The VAERS public-use data files were downloaded in July 2004 and translated into identical SAS data sets for analysis. Cases that were related to litigation were identified using a word search algorithm. All cases for the most frequently reported symptoms in litigation (overdose, neuropathy, autism, "mental retardation," arthralgia, and "speech disorder") were reviewed. In recent years, most case reports to VAERS that were related to overdose, neuropathy, and thimerosal were related to litigation. Many cases that were related to autism and mental retardation were as well. This review shows a previously undisclosed rise in the number of reports to the VAERS related to pending litigation for vaccine injury. The implications of this for understanding longitudinal reporting patterns are discussed.
Vaccine-critical websites frequently make serious allegations. With the burgeoning of the Internet as a health information source, an undiscerning or incompletely educated public may accept these claims and refuse vaccination of their children. As this occurs, the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases can be expected to rise.
"Herd immunity" is threatened as more and more parents free ride off of the community's dwindling immunity, and outbreaks of diseases thought to have been conquered have already occurred. Lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers threaten them with bankruptcy, costs are being externalized onto the healthcare and legal systems, and vulnerable populations are suffering harm or even death. In the interests of social welfare, state legislatures and health departments should consider methods to ensure that the exemption process is carefully tailored to prevent check-the-box opt-outs of convenience, while still allowing exemptions for those with earnest and informed convictions or medical reasons.
Ms. Scheibner's credentials are ambiguous. As Viera Scheibnerova she was an assistant professor in the Dept. of Geology at Comenius University in Bratislava until 1969. She then immigrated to Australia and was a member of the Geological Survey of New South Wales until her retirement in the mid 1980's. A medline search of the indexed peer reviewed literature covering some 3,600 health-related journals reveals that Ms. Scheibner has never published a single study on human health.
Materials from a documentary investigation by Brian Deer for the UK's Channel 4 Television exposing the bizarre true story of British gut surgeon Andrew Wakefield and his strange crusade against a children's vaccine