By Anne Dachel
The news that the Institute of Medicine has again cleared vaccines of safety concerns hit the media last week.
It reminds me of the famous 2004 IOM Report that was supposed to end the debate over vaccines and autism once and for all: THE SCIENCE WAS IN BACK IN 2004---VACCINES DON’T CAUSE AUTISM. IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON. This was of course only a little detour and it wasn’t long before the controversy was in full swing as though the IOM Report had never happened. And although the media still continued to refer to the 2004 Report as conclusive for years, the public didn’t buy it. There are just too many kids out there whose parents say they were fine until they were vaccinated. Vaccines triggered their autism. Doctors have no alternate explanation. They can only point to studies—all linked to the vaccines makers---showing no link.
Why should we accept another IOM Report? In 2004, there was not yet Hannah Poling, not yet the 83 children whose cases had been compensated by the federal government, and not yet the two recent cases talked about this past week. Things are piling up and not in the government’s favor.
Back in 2004, the U.S. autism rate was one in every 166 children. Today it’s one in every 88. And officials remain clueless as to the cause, prevention, or cure.
Today we have own resources. Leslie Manookian told me that over a million people (more likely a million and a half) have watched her stunning movie, The Greater Good.
Today we have more science on our side. There are over 200 independent studies done by well-credentialed experts that raise serious concerns about vaccine side effects shown on The Greater Good website.
So what’s wrong with this latest attempt to shore up waning confidence in the vaccine program? Plenty. Despite coverage like the Reuters story, Vaccine timetable for children is safe, experts say, the science simply isn’t there.
Reuters: “IOM's panel of independent scientists looked at the schedule of immunizations and all available scientific literature to determine safety. They also reviewed CDC and the Food and Drug Administration databases that track side effects.”
“In what they called the most comprehensive review to date, scientists at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said there is no evidence that giving children vaccines according to the recommended timetable causes other problems such as autism or asthma.”
There’s nothing new here. “Studies show no link” has been around for over two decades and it simply doesn’t work. Lots of official initials like CDC, FDA, and IOM, don’t impress the public. As soon as I read about the new IOM Report, I immediately thought of what the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institutes of Health and past president of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, said about the vaccine—autism controversy in 2008 on CBS News.http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500803_162-4090144-500803.html
CBS: “According to Healy, when she began
researching autism and vaccines she found credible published, peer-reviewed
scientific studies that support the idea of an association. That seemed to
counter what many of her colleagues had been saying for years. She dug a little
deeper and was surprised to find that the government has not embarked upon some
of the most basic research that could help answer the question of a link.
“The more she dug, she says, the more she came to believe the government and medical establishment were intentionally avoiding the question because they were afraid of the answer.
“Why? Healy says some in the government make the mistake of treating vaccines as an all-or-nothing proposition. The argument goes something like this: everybody gets vaccinated at the same time with the same vaccines or nobody will get vaccinated and long-gone deadly diseases will re-emerge. (When I asked about cases of brain damage resulting in autism that have been quietly compensated by the government in vaccine court over the years, one government official recently told me that ‘it's still better overall to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated."’)...
On the CBS video, Healy said, "I think the government or certain public health officials in the government have been too quick to dismiss the concerns of these families without studying the population that got sick. I haven't seen major studies that focus on 300 kids who got autistic symptoms within a period of a few weeks of a vaccines. ..."
This CBS interview was 2008, four years after the IOM Report so obvisouly Dr. Healy hadn’t been convinced that all the science was in. Now five years later, we again are being told by major news outlets the same thing they said in 2004: vaccines are safe; they don’t cause autism.
The big headlines out there assure us once again, vaccines are safe—the IOM says so.
What is the basis for the new safety claims? Did they government finally do the comparison study of never-vaccinated and fully vaccinated children that Dr. Healy called for? Can they show us a comparable rate of autism among never-vaccinated children? Did they look at the children who regressed into autism following routine vaccinations? Do they have proof that it wasn’t the vaccines? Have they finally run studies on the cumulative effect of the ever-expanding vaccination schedule?
It should come as no surprise that the answer to each of the above questions is NO.
Barbara Loe Fisher, head of the National Vaccine Information Center, put out a response to the IOM Report.
NVIC: “The non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC.org) supports three out of five recommendations made by an IOM committee asked by federal health officials to make recommendations for studying the safety of the current U.S. child vaccine schedule. NVIC is calling for transparency, independence and replication in future research to assess the safety of federal vaccine policies, including evaluating health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children and those using alternative vaccine schedules.
The NVIC Summary of the 2013 IOM Report outlined how this report failed to thoroughly address vaccine safety questions.
Barbara Loe Fisher was quoted by Amanda Gardner in the US News story, Childhood Vaccine Schedule Is Safe, Report Says.
“‘The IOM Committee has done a good job outlining core parental concerns about the safety of the U.S. child vaccine schedule and identifying the large knowledge gaps that cause parents to continue to ask doctors questions they can't answer,’ said Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a nonprofit organization ‘advocating for the institution of vaccine safety and informed consent protections in the public health system.’
“But, she added, ‘The most shocking part of this report is that the committee could only identify fewer than 40 studies published in the past 10 years that addressed the current 0-6-year-old child vaccine schedule. We still don't know if the doubling of the numbers of doses of vaccines that children are given since 1982 is associated with health problems in premature infants or development of chronic brain and immune system disorders, such as asthma, atopy, allergy, autoimmunity, autism, learning disorders, communication disorders, developmental disorders, intellectual disability, attention-deficit disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, tics and Tourette's syndrome, seizures, febrile seizures and epilepsy.’"
Barbara was also interviewed by NPR in a discussion where Dr. Alfred Berg, a member of the IOM committee declared, “There was no evidence of any adverse health effects related to the vaccine schedule.”
Barbara Loe Fisher: “We do not have the scientific evidence to assure doctors and parents that the current vaccine schedule is safe. They make statements like we are reassured, but there are less than 40 studies that they had to look at. That's not nearly enough science to give parents confidence that the current vaccine schedule is safe.”
I asked Barbara more about her thoughts on this latest IOM Report and this is what she said.
"It is a very bad idea to place the future of vaccine safety science research in the hands of the same health officials working in federal agencies, which develop and patent new vaccines, regulate the vaccine industry, make universal use policy for vaccines, and aggressively promote vaccine mandates by the states. That is asking the fox to guard the chicken coop. The IOM's last two recommendations discouraging prospective clinical trials, including cohort trials, and encouraging the use of closed patient databases like VSD to study the safety of federal vaccine policies will result in more junk vaccine science that the public will not trust. These closed patient databases operated by CDC in collaboration with for-profit corporations mean that future conclusions DHHS comes up with about the safety of the vaccine schedule cannot be independently verified or replicated. Transparency, independence and replication is the hallmark of good science because it prevents fraud in science.
"It is sad that IOM did not take this last opportunity to open up the way for vaccine safety science that people can trust to be performed. It is up to the people, now, to find a way to get the necessary science done outside of the conflict-of-interest ridden government health agencies and to fight for their informed consent rights in the states. Through the online Advocacy Portal (www.NVICAdvocacy.org) NVIC is helping parents take action in states like Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Oregon and others, where this year the pharmaceutical-medical trade-government lobby is working overtime to take vaccine exemptions away. This IOM report will be another piece of evidence to show legislators that doctors operating the mandatory vaccination system in the U.S. have developed a child vaccine schedule that has placed the love of power and money before love for children and respect for good science."
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.