By Louise Kuo Habakus (2nd from left.)
Commissioner Howard met with us for two full hours. Her staff continued with us for an additional thirty minutes. They listened. They asked a few questions. And the Commissioner left us with these words (not verbatim): "We had a productive meeting. I am impressed by the commitment, thoughtfulness and passion demonstrated by the parents here today. I respect the message and the way it was delivered. As a mother, I was very moved to hear the personal stories you shared. We want to work with parents to understand your concerns. We will also work with the AAP to urge them to take a look at the vaccine schedules and… [interruption from secretary, the Governor is on the phone] now, I really have to go."
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning.
There were thirteen people present. Eight from the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS):
Heather Howard, Commissioner, NJDHSS
James Brownlee, Assistant Commissioner, Epidemiology, Environmental & Occupational Health
Mary E. O'Dowd, Chief of Staff
Christina Tan, MD, Deputy Commissioner
Carl Rathjen, Deputy Chief of Staff
Angela Sorrells Washington, Program Manager, Vaccine Preventable Disease Program, Communicable Disease Program
Barbara Montana, MD, Medical Director, Communicable Disease
Dileep Sarecha, Program Manager, Vaccine Preventable Disease Program, Communicable Disease Program
And five parents: me, Ron Habakus, Claudine Liss, Maureen Drummond and Barbara Majeski, all five of us strong, educated, determined, capable voices in the parent community, all with vaccine-injured children, all members of the NJ Coalition for Vaccination Choice, all with senior corporate and/or professional credentials.
The NJDHSS invited their senior vaccine program staff to participate in this meeting. We can wonder why they asked for so many from their side to attend. Regardless, it was an opportunity to talk to all of them at the same time, to hear what they had to say, to read body language, to see where we stood on our specific demands, and to find out where we are going… with or without them.
I prepared a powerpoint presentation to organize our message and the other parents agreed to chime in with relevant facts, science and personal stories. Our objective for the meeting was to make sure they fully understood, not only the reasons behind the profound trust gap that exists between parents and our health department but the ramifications of this distrust.
I wanted them to hear, in no uncertain terms, that they are creating the very thing they fear the most -- that, faced with an increasing number of vaccine mandates and absolutely no answers and no leadership behind the epidemic of autism and chronic disease facing our children, parents will increasingly abandon vaccines.
Faced with "all or none," more are choosing none. This was not meant to be a "my science versus yours" meeting. We know how those meetings go. This was our meeting and they were going to listen to the parents' side. And we asked for a fifteen minute warning to make sure we had time to discuss our list of demands.
We started by showing them how many more shots we give our children versus 25 years ago. We noted the increase in chronic, autoimmune and neurodevelopmental disorders during precisely the same time frame. We asked, is it not exceedingly reasonable to inquire whether the one (more shots) is related to the other (more damage). We reviewed the gross underreporting in VAERS and how it ensures we will always be behind the eight ball in identifying vaccine-related problems. We shared the government's list of vaccine-related complications for which families are compensated. We used the Physician's Desk Reference to list many dozens of ways to die and be harmed by vaccines.
We discussed disease transmission via live virus vaccines, inappropriate test cohorts for FDA licensure, failure to use true placebos, suitability of using experimental control groups and the complete absence of studies on carcinogenic, mutagenic potential or the impairment of fertility. We reminded them that licensed vaccines are routinely withdrawn, that vaccine makers never adequately studied the simultaneous administration of so many shots, that there has never been any therapeutic benefit to doing so and that our doctors advise it anyway to increase compliance. We provided research that links vaccines to diabetes, asthma and anaphylaxis.
We told them about Dr. George Lucier, the former director of environmental toxicology from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences. We read excerpts from his incredibly damning expert testimony where he states that the only plausible explanation for the rise in autism supported by a strong scientific foundation is that thimerosal causes some cases of autism. We reminded them that our government has made massive mistakes in the past, bad drugs are approved and many people are killed and harmed before they are removed from the market.
We sequenced through old drug and cigarette ads that made them smile and shake their heads wistfully at how foolish we once were. And then we received our fifteen minute warning.
We summarized with these take-away points:
1. Something is very, very wrong… numerous shots, sick kids, damning science, government concession that vaccines caused autism.
2. As bad as it is in the US, it's worse in NJ… more shots, sicker kids, families in crisis, parents of mainstream and special needs kids fiercely divided over shrinking pool of resources
3. NJ, bankrupt state, political corruption, home to half of the world's pharmaceutical companies, #1 vaccination state in the US, first ever to mandate the flu shot: ineffective, rejected by health professionals and the market, no better than placebo for children under two, no adequate safety data, the vast majority of doses containing a devastating neurotoxin.
4. NJ, parents rally, Corzine admits this is a huge issue, over 10,000 signed petition in support of parental vaccination choice, A260/S1071 languishes in both health committees. Why?
5. For each reason they provided to support their opposition of the bill, we countered. The most important? CA and TX are also densely populous, corridor states with large immigrant populations where passage of the philosophical exemption did not compromise vaccine compliance.
6. This is what parents see: one-sided vaccine propaganda, doctors kicking us out of their practice (click HERE), FDA is not protecting us, CDC is more concerned about promotion than safety, parents can't sue for most vaccine-related injury and death, no one can explain why our children are so sick, and ever more vaccine mandates. The result? No trust.
7. When there is no trust, the sacred doctor-patient relationship is broken. Patients will not give their children something they think will harm them. Period, end of conversation. Parents will increasingly say: No dialogue? No choice? Then no shots! It's not a complex equation. It's human nature.
And we ended with our five requests:
1. Acknowledge the public health crisis in our state and commit to work with parents in an open and transparent process to address the trust gap
2. Remove your opposition to A260/S1071. Ask the Governor to put the full weight of his political support behind passage of this bill.
3. Repeal the four new vaccine mandates.
4. Provide true informed consent which includes full discussion of the risks, not just the benefits. No propaganda.
5. Initiate and participate in a series of legislative vaccine roundtables which present all sides of the debate to help educate legislators on the issues.
We were cool, fiercely focused and in control of the message and the meeting, if we can say so ourselves. Each one of us held our own and pressed forward. We had the continuity and depth of Maureen's 18 years of advocacy. When she pointed out that it is unconstitutional to mandate the injection of pathogens and ingredients that can kill and harm, Dr. Montana replied that the state doesn't really mandate vaccines, the mandates are only a requirement for school admission and if parents feel strongly enough about it, they have other options. [!]
We had Claudine challenge them to broaden their inquiry, to read the work of experts such as Harris Coulter, PhD, to examine the Homefirst pediatric practice and talk with Dr. Mayer Eisenstein. She was stunned to recently learn that her own childhood pediatrician advised against receiving a pertussis vaccine because of family history but her children's doctor failed to ask the same question, opting instead for full vaccination, demonstrating both neglect and a willingness to sacrifice a subset of the population.
We had Barbara Majeski describe how she almost lost her son after the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth and six subsequent catch-up shots. She shared a copy of the vaccine disclosure form (View this photo) provided to her in the hospital just hours after giving birth to Max, a form so painfully one-sided in its scare tactics with no mention of possible risks and complications.
We had Ron who exposed the extent to which our state public health officials are failing us when he asked them what will they do when the numbers of chronically ill and neurodevelopmentally disordered children rise as a direct result of these four new vaccine mandates. Dr. Montana responded, "We won't repeal the mandates and we will follow the CDC's lead on recommended shots."
And we had me… a pain in their collective backside, telling them there's an opportunity here to lead in a different kind of way, an opportunity to start closing the trust gap by supporting the choice bill and showing parents they are listening. [zero response]
You'll soon understand why I gave ourselves a pat on the back first. Because here's their response to our requests.
1. Heather Howard said that dialogue has begun, the door is open and they will be available to us.
2. Speaking for the Commissioner who did not specifically clarify this point, Carl Rathjen said that they will not remove their opposition to A260/S1071. That is not on the table.
3. Heather Howard said they will not repeal the mandates and they have no intention to consider that possibility right now. When further challenged, Dr. Tan said they will always evaluate new science.
4. Several voiced their support for increased (but non-specific) effort behind vaccine education and outreach.
5. Heather Howard smiled as she volunteered Dr. Tan who would be happy to participate in any vaccine roundtable that is organized.
Regarding body language, it was mostly guarded and cordial. Of the eight DHSS members, six are parents themselves. They listened, some occasionally nodded their heads in agreement, a couple took a lot of notes, one said that he does not get to hear this side of the story, a few made pleasant small talk when the Commissioner briefly stepped out of the room, nearly all offered a compliment, thanked us for the civility of the meeting, shook my hand and departed with a smile.
Not Dr. Montana. She is not a parent. She appears structurally unable to smile. I can't tell if she is emotionally stunted, exceedingly committed to her profession, or just plain hates us. She appeared alternately pained, bored and contemptuous. When she spoke out, it was only to counter what we said. If they agreed to play good cop/bad cop, we know which role she chose. And at the end of the meeting, she beelined out of the room.
So there you have it. Obtaining a two hour meeting with the health commissioner and her staff was an accomplishment. Setting the agenda and successfully delivering our message, ditto. But the bottom line is that we did not get what we wanted. The NJDHSS continues with business as usual. Our state appears unwilling to exercise independent judgment to protect the health and welfare of its residents. It seems we are more of a test case and an incubator for the CDC's agenda. And our instinct remains true. Real change must come from the parents. Are we ready, New Jersey? We have our work cut out for us.
Louise Kuo Habakus is a member of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice and lectures widely on vaccine safety. She is the mother of two vaccine-injured children and a former corporate executive. A board-certified health practitioner, Louise specializes in pediatric integrative nutrition and is receiving her certification in homotoxicology.