By DAN OLMSTED
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. Getting the "measles shot" means getting the MMR, and the MMR is "the autism shot" in the minds of many, many parents.
That's what Jenny McCarthy called it just before her doctor assured her it was not, just before he gave it to Evan, just before Evan regressed into autism. That's the shot they're trying to crucify Andy Wakefield for warning about -- for saying way back in 1998 that it might be best to split up the components while we figure this out. (That was several hundred thousand autism cases ago. Good luck trying to get just a measles shot.) The MMR is the shot Merck combined with chickenpox vaccine and ended up giving kids twice the number of fever-induced seizures. And the MMR's the shot the CDC still recommends at 12 months on the same office visit as the chickenpox shot. They see nothing, they learn nothing, and then they blame it all on parents who do.
Instead of acknowledging or connecting any of this, the media call in their experts -- doctors all, of course -- to remind everyone to look at the nice, color-coded,, easy to understand immunization schedule the CDC so helpfully posts (Thanks, Dr. Nancy!). That, they suggest, would set everyone's mind at ease and get all our kiddies back on schedule.
I doubt it. I think it would scare parents even further to death, if such a thing is technically possible.
Let me tell you one reason why I'm not shy or circumspect about squarely blaming the CDC for this -- because Jon Poling, Hannah's dad, predicted something like this, or much worse, just a few week ago. And he said just what I'm saying. In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 11, he wrote: "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)."
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. To repeat for emphasis:
He says that if a disease like measles emerges again, "the fault will rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders and policymakers."
That's the CDC. 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.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism