By Anne Dachel
Last week I came across the video (Watch HERE) featuring an hour long panel discussion of the H1N1 flu pandemic from the University of Rochester, NY that was aired on Public Television Oct 8.
Participants included Dr. Peter Salgo, of New York Presbyterian Hospital as the host, along with Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat, MD Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, Lisa Harris, MD Primary Care Physician Temple Medical Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Richard Barbano, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Neurology University of Rochester Medical Center, Mark Shelly, MD Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine Highland Hospital Rochester, NY and Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, Med Executive Director, Boston Public Health Commission.
This was a public forum with audience participation which led to some very important questions and some very controversial answers.
The first half hour was about the H1N1 virus, who’s at risk, and about the vaccine that is being provided to fight the disease.
Thirty minutes into the discussion came questions from the audience. One woman brought up the thimerosal issue:
“I'm Heidi from New York and I'm also a mother of a 4-year-old. And I'm concerned about mercury levels in the vaccine. Is there a dangerous level of mercury in the vaccine, particularly for pregnant women and their unborn child. And the rest of the general public. And, can I request a vaccine with no mercury?”
Schuchat was quick to respond with all the standard denials:
Next came this question:
“Well, if it's [thimerosal], if it's not allowed for pregnant women and their unborn child, then why wouldn't it be a risk for the rest of the population?”
Dr. Mark Shelly took on the issue and trashed ten years of supposed CDC statements about mercury. Although he seemed flustered and his words were rambling, the message was clear:
“That rule was made by politicians and lawyers. (audience laughter) It wasn’t made based on the best we could come out with. And so to understand, that really is the key, that the politicians said it was that way and then we start to think that it has medical validity behind, but it really does not.
An adult, the amount of thimerosal in an adult, is is is an unreasonable concern.”
Salgo brought up the cautions against pregnant women eating tuna..
Shelly: “Well, I, I don't know the relative quantity of mercury in the tuna, or the risk factors in tuna. I just know that, that we have made this a rule by extension, and basically, as we keep extending it out, become afraid of too many things.”
Salgo: “But if people are worried about mercury, and if there's a way to make a vaccine mercury free, what's the harm?”
Dr. Lisa Harris then added her opinion: “We, there's a lot of science. Years and years and years of science that show that there's no link between the thimerosal preservative in vaccine and disease, specifically autism, if you want to throw it out there. And we know that from just years and years and years and years of data. We know that from looking at population studies in other countries outside of the United States where there is no autism. So it's really, as Mark has said earlier, an unreasonable risk. So we really need to, to educate people, that you're not ingesting a thermometer and putting yourself at risk.”
Salgo: “All right, I know that we are not going to settle the thimerosal…autism question right here on this stage at this moment.”
I was appalled listening to this exchange. The CDC is part of Dept of Health and Human Services. On the website of HHS it states: (HERE)
“Exposure to mercury occurs from breathing contaminated air, ingesting contaminated water and food, and having dental and medical treatments. Mercury, at high levels, may damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus.
“The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems."
While HHS conveniently ignored the research by Dr Thomas Burbacher from the U of Washington showing that the ethylmercury used in vaccines is actually more likely to become trapped in the brain, the statement that is undeniable here is “The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury.”
And in 1999, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all asked pharmaceutical companies to remove mercury from vaccines. Suddenly on Public Television, in the midst of a massive campaign that is particularly targeting pregnant women to get the flu vaccine, we are told that the USPHS, the AAP, the AAFP and the CDC were forced into that statement by “politicians and lawyers.”
Now maybe we needn’t take Shelly’s comments too seriously, after all, he’s not a government official. However included in this panel was Anne Schuchat. director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. She’s been at the CDC since 1988 and must have first hand knowledge of the joint statement issued by the CDC and others in June of 1999.
During all of Shelly's comments, Schuchat said nothing. When he claimed that the CDC really didn’t go along with the statement, but that they were somehow forced into it, Schuchat remained silent. Not one person on that panel challenged Shelly.
I went to the CDC website where (HERE) the 1999 agency statement was supposed to be and I found this: “The page you are looking for has been moved to (HERE).” And when I went to the site I read, “Page Not Found.”
We are in the midst of a national vaccination effort where pregnant women are told by everyone in the medical establishment that they should get two flu vaccines which could potentially expose their unborn child to 50 mcg of mercury at one time. It’s at least a little embarrassing to have the CDC’s public statement on reducing mercury exposure from ten years ago brought up.
Now it seems that the 1999 joint statement was nothing but a fraud designed to pacify politicians and lawyers.
It must have been. After all, Schuchat said nothing.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autsim