On December 14, 2011, Marketwatch.com (a site connected to the Wall Street Journal) ran the story, Physicians Oppose Mandatory Flu Vaccine for Health Workers. It was a press release from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and this is what it said:
“In a letter to Colorado public health officials, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) opposes a rule requiring workers in health care facilities to have an annual influenza vaccination or lose their jobs. Workers who had a rare religious or medical exemption would be required to wear a mask in patient care areas from November through March.
“The religious exemption is too narrowly drawn, AAPS writes, and should be a philosophical exemption, as accepted in many states, to "to avoid inquisitions into matters of faith." The mask requirement "seems to be nothing more than a punitive retaliation against those who decline the vaccine" and should be dropped, the AAPS letter states, as both immunized and nonimmunized individuals can transmit influenza or other illnesses.
“The New Mexico study cited in support of the policy shows a tiny effect: an adjusted odds ratio of only 0.97 for confirmed influenza "outbreaks" (at least one case) in residents of long-term care facilities where 60% of direct-care workers were immunized compared with facilities with a 51% immunization rate. This means that in facilities where more workers were immunized, residents were still 97% as likely to get influenza. "Many other factors could account for the small difference," states AAPS executive director Jane Orient, M.D.
“In the age of ‘evidence-based medicine,’ AAPS notes that there is surprisingly little evidence supporting the efficacy of influenza vaccine, and evidence of safety is also scant. According to a 2006 article in the British Medical Journal by Tom Jefferson (here) , the coordinator of the vaccines section of the Cochrane Collaboration, safety data are reported in only five randomized studies with 2,963 observations. Many repeated doses of similar vaccines likely increase the risk of allergic reactions, and no data exist on the safety of a large number of doses, states Dr. Orient, citing a 2006 article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.”
I was stunned to see a story connected to the Wall Street Journal in opposition to the medical community’s constant promotion of the flu vaccine and it was right there on Google News. In the first place, it was hard to believe any medical organization would take the bold step of disagreeing with the health officials, Wal-Marts, and doctors telling us to get that annual flu shot. Instead, a group of doctors was publicly challenging the safety and efficacy of a vaccine.
On their website, the AAPS is described as “one of the only national medical organizations fighting against government and insurance company control of medicine. AAPS has stood for patient and physician freedom since 1943.” It seems that not every doctor in the country is willing to meekly follow pharma-backed, government mandates on health care. Regarding the power and influence of pharmaceutical corporations, I found this:
“AAPS is completely funded by membership dues and contributions, so we answer to and advocate for our physician members and not big corporate donors or government funding sources. The AMA’s deal with HCFA gave it a monopoly on the CPT codes, from which it derives at least $70 million in revenue annually. AAPS was one of the first to expose this conflict of interest.
“All elected AAPS Board members and officers serve on a volunteer basis and even pay their own way to board meetings. We do not have a big building, or a bloated staff. Every dime in dues goes directly to the fight for freedom in medicine.”
I immediately thought of the report, How Independent are Vaccine Defenders? by CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson in 2008 where she described the stunning financial ties that exist between the vaccine makers and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
I contacted AAPS Executive Director Dr. Jane Orient about the story on the MarketWatch site and about her organization. These are her remarks.
Dr. Orient, the statement, “AAPS notes that there is surprisingly little evidence supporting the efficacy of influenza vaccine, and evidence of safety is also scant,” puts your organization at odds with much of mainstream medicine.
Why is it that other professional groups seem to have closed their eyes to ‘evidence-based medicine’?
Dr. Orient: “What is called ‘evidence-based medicine’ is all too often authority-based medicine. The authority defines ‘evidence,’ often picking the studies that have the outcome they prefer. Most research funding is controlled by government or companies dependent on government to preserve their dominance, as by regulations too costly for upstart competition to comply with.
“Physicians don't have time to study everything for themselves and generally trust their professional organizations, not recognizing the conflicts of interest that may taint the work of highly intelligent and accomplished researchers. Then there's human nature, with its reluctance to challenge long-held assumptions. We still, alas, have sacred cows.”
Are the safety concerns of the flu vaccine being ignored?
Orient: “Safety concerns are acknowledged, but downplayed. Severe adverse reactions are uncommon enough that most doctors may never have seen them personally, or have seen only one or two, which might have been attributed to something else. A lot of things you might miss if you are not looking for them.”
Are doctors free today to provide the care they feel is in the best interest of their patients?
Orient: “Doctors face serious repercussions if they don't go by the guidelines of their employers or third-party payers. Licensure boards can also be extremely unfriendly to dissent or innovation, plus there is always the risk of getting sued for ‘falling below the standard of care.’ Independent physicians, who work directly for their patients, are increasingly hard to find.”
How intrusive is the government with regard to our health care?
Orient: “Government is involved in every aspect of care, and is determined to have everyone's records in an interoperable electronic database for ease of monitoring compliance. The authorities' presumably well-intentioned public health goals trump the wishes and even the health of individuals.”
What is your opinion of the power and influence of the pharmaceutical industry over both doctors and health officials?
Orient: “I think there is pervasive corruption, which is probably inevitable in the "public-private partnership.”
What do you see as the main purpose of the AAPS?
Orient: “To preserve private medicine.”
What medical needs of Americans are not being met?
Orient: “I can't give a global answer to this question. People need individualized care by a physician they can trust. Some get excellent care (not necessarily highly expensive), and some are getting something similar to veterinary care (except that vets generally like the animals and really care about doing their best).”
Dr. Orient”s answers were succinct and damning. Parents in the autism community have long questioned the safety claims regarding the government mandated vaccine schedule and the science that supposedly shows no connection between vaccines and autism. Many of us are in disbelief over an epidemic affecting one percent of children that has no known cause or cure and is left as a perpetual mystery by doctors. Dr. Orient’s answers make it clear, it’s not just about the science.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism. Subscribe to her new site at AnneDachel.com