The British media and medical establishment can't get over Andy Wakefield's gall when he claimed, in a post published here, that an outbreak of measles in Wales is squarely the fault of British health officials. Has the man no decency? At long last, has he no decency?
Well, I certainly agree with Andy that the blame for the measles outbreak rests squarely with the public health establishment. Separate measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines were available when Andy was asked, and gave his honest view, that parents should avail themselves of that choice until more research was done. A few months afterward, the government got rid of those shots, and parents were left with all or nothing -- the MMR, about which quite reasonable concerns persisted, or no shot at all.
Many chose nothing, no shot at all, making the quite reasonable calculation that the risk of those diseeases was better than a 1-in-50 shot at getting autism (actually, of the three, the only good case is for the rubella vaccine, to prevent congenital rubella syndrome in babies). The same dynamic has played itself out in the United States, where separate shots were available, then they weren't, then they were going be, but then they weren't -- and still aren't.
The British establishment would like to paint Andy as a uniquely hubristic satanic fraudster -- who else would engender concerns about the safety of vaccines, and then blame the authorities when parents don't get them in the prescribed way?
Well, Jon Poling, for one. In 2008, Hannah's father wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the wake of his daughter's multi-million-dollar award in vaccine court for, yes, vaccine-induced autism:
"The current vaccine schedule, co-sponsored by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, injures a small but significant minority of children, my daughter unfortunately being one of those victims. Every day, more parents and some pediatricians reject the current vaccine schedule. In an abundance of caution, meaningful reform must be performed urgently to prevent the re-emergence of serious diseases like polio or measles.
"As a neurologist, I have cared for those afflicted with SSPE (a rare but dreaded neurological complication of measles), paralytic polio and tetanus. If these serious vaccine-preventable diseases again become commonplace, the fault will rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders and policymakers who have failed to heed the writing on the wall (scribbled by my 9-year old daughter)."
To repeat, the return of measles would rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders, according to the father of a child compensated for vaccine-induced autism.
As I wrote at the time, Dr, Poling is the real deal, educated at Johns Hopkins, devoted both to his daughter and his patients, tempered by reality. He's mild-mannered. He's mainstream. He's credible. And he says that if a disease like measles emerges again, "the fault will rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders and policymakers."
As I wrote then, "I'm starting to think we should rename the CDC the Centers for Disease Contagion. You've all seen the news that there are suddenly more measles cases in the United States and the CDC is blaming it in part on the increasing reluctance of parents to vaccinate their kids.
"But it's the CDC's fault, and no other. ... Right now they're triggering a measles outbreak, and that may just be the start of the havoc they're going to cause unless Congress or the (next) president reminds them who's REALLY in control around here."
Oh, and by the way, vaccines including the MMR are the cause of the autism epidemic. More and more parents, families, and ordinary people know it. Andy Wakefield and Jon Poling are stating the obvious -- parents have lost trust in governments that say otherwise.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.