(Thank you to Christine Heeren of Lighthouse Studios in New York for the photos.)
Legislative Vaccine Roundtable
Stony Brook University
December 15, 2008
The roundtable was terrific. Even more satisfying than the Nassau County hearings in September. The audience was overwhelmingly sympathetic parents who were supportive and engaged. I was very proud of our speakers. Barbara Loe Fisher made a brilliant case for informed consent -- no one does it better -- and set the stage for the rest of us. Larry Palevsky nailed it today. He was brave, direct and so knowledgeable about the medicine, it was a real honor to be on that stage with him. I just had to resist the desire to reach over and high five him. John Gilmore made many great points… my favorite: 50% of the US population lives in states which offer the philosophical exemption, no epidemics raging in those states (love it!). I was given clean up duty as the last speaker and was able to make a few choice comments in response to some of other side’s particularly irksome remarks.
From the other side, Hall of Shame comments included:
Dr. Paul Lee, AAP, District II:
“Yes, aluminum is neurotoxic but it is everywhere, in breastmilk, beer, wine, produce and seasonings.” (I guess it’s ok to inject some since it’s surely no different than ingesting it… and what’s a little more aluminum among friends?)
“The body makes a form of formaldehyde which plays a role in human metabolism.” (Implication is, if our body makes it, then adding some more can’t be bad. I’m a little confused here… did we put it in on purpose because it’s helpful? If not, can I please just rely on what my body makes? I trust that a lot more than what some drug company concocts. Oh, and where are the safety studies, by the way?)
Dr. Louis Cooper, AAP, District II
“I have no conflicts of interest.” (I guess 47 years dedicating your career to vaccines, with your credibility, livelihood and reputation on the line doesn’t count as a conflict. How about helping to develop the rubella vaccine then? Or the leadership position you hold within the AAP? Or your work on the global immunization program?)
“You have no clue what I’m talking about. You weren’t twatching the kids suffering from polio and rubella as I did.” (Excuse me? We have no clue? Go spend a day with a family with autism. Experience inflammatory bowel disease, all diarrhea, all day long, 24x7 with no end. With all due respect, sir, you have no clue what we’re talking about.)
When challenged about the All Star Pediatrics letter in the AAP Newsletter, Dr. Cooper said, “We don’t censor the opinions of our members.” (But you don’t have to feature them in your newsletter, now, do you?)
Dr. Debra Blog, Medical Director, Immunization Program, NY State Department of Health
“Prevention is preferable to cure.” (Her modern amendment to the Hippocratic Oath. Can we expand this to include prevention of SIDS, autism, diabetes, asthma, seizures, palsies, not just infectious disease? Because these are the pressing health concerns of the day. Parents are stakeholders in this equation. You may not just mandate to us. You must involve us.).
“Waiting is a choice to stay vulnerable to disease.” (It’s also a choice to reduce the likelihood of getting asthma by over 50% according to the huge DPT cohort study from Manitoba published earlier this year. It’s also a choice for parents who feel their children may be among those susceptible to other vaccine injury because of family history or other factors. But the key word here is choice, now, isn’t it?)
The Good Stuff
Dr. Cooper said: “It is unfortunate, but in our zeal to distribute vaccines, we failed to sufficiently invest in the science. Vaccines are not 100% safe.”
Dr. Blog and I exchanged cards and she asked if I would share specifics on our serious concerns about the Denmark study. (Yes, of course. Anyone care to give me the best summary?) We had a cordial conversation. I told her that a lot of children are not well and parents know it’s the vaccines. I said that my two boys were terribly damaged by their shots. She expressed sympathy, as any mother would do. When I asked her if they were acceptable losses in service of our immunization program, she said, “No, of course not.” Now there is a place we can go.
They did not like being challenged. Not one bit. I could feel the, “How dare you? Do you know who I am?” energy from at least one of the physicians. I knew I hit my mark when I was personally told by the other side:
“You really know how to pack a punch.”
“You really beat up on me.”
“You’re a terrific speaker.”
“I’d love to spend some time talking with you about the science.” (Great, can I have your business card? “No, I’m retired.” I guess he thought the better of it.)
For the rest, you really need to listen to the live audio feed which will be uploaded on Autism One Radio. A big thank you to Christian Fisher for videotaping the entire event. Lou Conte, Barb Majeski and Claudine Liss did a terrific job with commentary and conducting interviews which will also be included in the upload.
We’re getting ready to hold our three holiday open houses in Little Falls, Princeton and Summit, New Jersey, on Wed-Fri of this week. We’ll toast you all when we drink our eggnog and call our legislators. Here’s to 2009 and continuing the fight. Happy New Year, everyone.