SafeMinds Response to 1/16/2013 IOM Report:
IOM fails again to pursue science on vaccine injury
The January 16, 2013 Institute of Medicine report, The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies, repeats the IOM pattern of failing to call for the appropriate scientific research to be conducted on vaccine-induced autism. The report ignores the fact that for 6 of the 7 vaccines administered in the first year of a child’s life (HCV, DTaP, PCV, Rotavirus, IPV, and Rotavirus), there has never been a study of autism prevalence in children who received the vaccine versus children who did not receive the vaccine. These studies were not performed before each of these vaccines was approved, and have not been performed since approval. The IOM report admits that such a study is the gold standard of science, yet does not call for studies. The IOM report ignores the fact that for the 7th vaccine (Hepatitis B), there has been only one such study and that this study found a 3-fold increase in autism risk for children who received the vaccine in the first month of life. The autism epidemic dates to the 1988 birth cohort per an EPA study, the same birth cohort which was administered the Hib conjugate vaccine (an entirely new class of vaccine), and an October 2011 published paper describes a plausible mechanism by which this new type of vaccine could have caused the autism epidemic. Yet the IOM report ignores the fact that autism prevalence has never been studied for the Hib conjugate vaccine in children receiving versus not receiving this vaccine.
Why would the IOM not call for the obviously necessary research to be conducted? Safeminds believes the answer lies in an institutional bias within IOM towards protecting the vaccination program. Leaked transcripts of initial deliberations during the 2004 IOM Immunization Safety Review show that the IOM chair told the committee that they would not ever come down that autism is a true side effect of vaccines; subsequently, the IOM 2004 report had the audacity to call for a halt in further research into a vaccine-autism association. The IOM 2004 report was not based upon conclusive research, but instead appeared policy-driven based on leaked transcripts. Now in this January 2013 report, intended to lay the groundwork for future research on vaccine-safety, the IOM instead advertises the benefits of the current testing system which has failed to conduct the necessary research. While recognizing that “randomized controlled trials are the gold standard for clinical research”, the IOM committee does not call for these trials. The IOM committee also dismisses the feasibility of retrospectively comparing vaccinated vs unvaccinated children citing that population groups often containing unvaccinated children, such as religious communities, would yield sample sizes too small for valid results. This short-sightedness ignores the more obvious solution of utilizing the estimated 1-2M home-schooled population for such a study.
According to a 2009 survey in Pediatrics journal, 54% of parents are concerned about the adverse effects of vaccines and 25% think some vaccines cause autism in healthy children. Per a 2010 National Poll on Children’s Health, 89% of parents rate vaccine safety as the most important topic in children’s health research today. The IOM report is disappointing in that it does not lay out a path to the necessary research, and as such does nothing to allay the concerns of parents regarding vaccine injury. For the estimated money spent for this IOM report, the U.S. government could have instead funded a retrospective study of autism prevalence in home-schooled vaccinated versus unvaccinated children. SafeMinds calls for urgent government funding for the necessary vaccine-autism research, rather than continuing to fund organizations such as IOM which advocate for avoiding such research.