By Nancy Hokkanen
Here's an excerpt from The Mayo Clinic's page on the Poland & Jacobson paper, in time for the recent infant immunization week.
Physician’s Guide for Anti-Vaccine Parents
In the limited time of an office visit, how can a primary care physician make the case to parents that their child should be vaccinated? During National Infant Immunization Week, a Mayo Clinic vaccine expert and a pediatrician offer suggestions for refuting three of the most common myths about child vaccine safety. Their article, The Clinician’s Guide to the Anti-Vaccinationists’ Galaxy, is published online this month in the journal Human Immunology.
“Thousands of children are at increased risk because of under-vaccination, and outbreaks of highly transmissible diseases have occurred” says lead author Gregory Poland, M.D., Mayo Clinic vaccinologist. “Primary care physicians have less time than most to explain the scientific case for vaccination. This article gives them the background and tools to debunk some of the major myths.”
Last year on Age of Autism I criticized Merck vaccine developers Dr. Gregory Poland and Dr. Robert Jacobson for refusing to listen to vaccine injury victims. One commenter aptly asked, “What planet are these authors living on?
Ironic, then, that Drs. Poland and Jacobson cosmologically titled their latest piece of work "The Clinician’s Guide to the Anti-Vaccinationists’ Galaxy" (Human Immunology, April 2012). Though their article ostensibly aims to assist doctors with patients’ vaccine concerns, this recycled corporate messaging also attempts to neutralize (or “Wakefield-ize”) vaccine safety advocates – including Dr. Bob Sears, author of The Vaccine Book.
Besides stretching the definition of “anti-vaccine” beyond the ridiculous, one of the doctors’ assertions in particular stands out for the sheer cognitive dissonance it evokes: "[I]t is still unlikely that rare [vaccine] side effects can be studied adequately owing to the very, very low numbers of cases available for study."
It’s quite clear that these doctors do not live near Planet Autism… though in Minnesota, where they work at the Mayo Clinic, 1 in 56 boys born in 1997 is on the autism spectrum. And where treatment for autism is concerned, many Minnesotans consider the Mayo a dead zone and drive or fly elsewhere.
Vaccine injury cases can be found, if one is willing to look:
- Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System at HHS;
- Vaccine Safety Datalink at the CDC;
- National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, HHS: 2,893 cases, compensated, 14,000+ filed;
- NIH’s PubMed website;
- National Vaccine Information Center website and Memorial Wall;
- Websites such as TruthAboutGardasil.org and SaneVax.org;
- Facebook groups and listservs such as “I Know My Child Was Injured By Vaccines” and “Not Born With It.”
These case reports are profoundly moving tales of devastating health problems suffered by children and adults injured by vaccines, of the anguish of families tasked 24/7 with seeking medical treatments and therapies… or making funeral arrangements.
Poland and Jacobson ask us to believe that the ailments reported as vaccine injuries to the NVICP instead simply arise spontaneously, only coincidental with vaccination – conditions such as encephalopathy, demyelination, autoimmunity, mitochondrial dysfunction, glutathione deficiency disorder, methylation disorder, chronic neuroinflammation, gastrointestinal disease, microgliosis, tics and seizure disorders, development of antibodies to myelin basic protein, and more disorders listed in peer-reviewed medical literature.
Read the doctors’ statement again: "[I]t is still unlikely that rare [vaccine] side effects can be studied adequately owing to the very, very low numbers of cases available for study."
So… just how many people must be injured by vaccines before Drs. Poland and Jacobson decide they deserve study and aid? How long should vaccine adverse events be allowed to continue unchecked? And who will care enough to investigate?
Contrast the “don’t look, don’t see” attitude with Dr. Poland’s past writings, and note the swift backpedaling:
- His 2008 Vaccinomics paper promoted tailoring vaccines to accommodate "individual variability in disease risk immunologic response”;
- His 2009 Adversomics paper encouraged study to predict adverse reactions to vaccines, and “design new vaccine approaches that minimize or eliminate serious vaccine-related reactions."
Vaccine consumers should be appalled that these researchers have conveniently excused themselves from the task of studying vaccine injury cases. The presumption of infallibility is shocking, and the abrogation of professional responsibility to the end users of their products is unethical.
It takes enormous gall to blame the victims of vaccine injuries and their families for suggesting closer scrutiny of vaccines and stakeholders by media, government and the public. And it’s malicious to malign good doctors who advise using the precautionary principle when a medical procedure raises questions and may be contraindicated.
Disclosure statements by vaccine researchers are revealing indeed, and vary from publication to publication. Some researchers, like Dr. Poland, have received money from dozens of businesses and agencies. With much to lose financially and professionally from admissions of culpability, vaccine developers are uniquely susceptible to denial. Among the financial disincentives preventing vaccine injury from being studied are the lifetime care costs for each neuroimmune-impaired child, which can exceed $5-$10 million.
Decode the doctors’ journal-speak and their attitude toward studying and preventing vaccine injury reads, “It’s not my job.” So while vaccine-injured children with chronic neuroimmune disorders fight for their very lives, vaccine developers fight only for their professional lives. Poland, the self-described vaccine “warrior," sees himself as one of the white knights of public health – but is unwilling to clean up after his horse.
Yet much remains unknown about the full health impact of vaccines. A 2011 study in Vaccine on a trivalent influenza vaccine states that "data on the maternal inflammatory response to vaccination is lacking and would better delineate the safety and clinical utility of immunization," that there is "considerable variability in magnitude of response," and "further research is needed to confirm that the mild inflammatory response elicited by vaccination is benign in pregnancy."
It’s obvious that treating every vaccine-injured child or adult is simply too overwhelming a task for Drs. Poland and Jacobson – hence their denial. It’s long past time to recruit and organize a well-funded independent consumer service agency to properly handle vaccine injuries, from diagnosis to treatment to prevention, and fair compensation for disabilities and financial losses.
In addition, people who’ve blocked honest dialogue about vaccine injuries should be given financial incentives compelling them to stop. People who’ve suffered adverse reactions to vaccines deserve as much funding and attention as victims of any preventable disease du jour. Field evidence abounds indicating that the pool of people unable to be safely vaccinated is far greater than public health policymakers realize.
As an altruistic chemist told me, there are none so blind as those who will not see. Before selective blindness about vaccine injuries bankrupts this country, the brightest and best stars in the vaccine research galaxy must shift from microscope to stethoscope and partner with physicians to learn how vaccines are causing adverse reactions in genetically susceptible infants, children and adults. No amount of ink, bandwidth and corporate cash can wish away that paradoxical reality.
Nancy Hokkanen is the parent of a child with autism who suffered adverse reactions to infant vaccines and has a case filed in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s Omnibus Autism Proceeding. Since 2002 she has advocated for autism groups, and co-moderates a biomedical treatment listserv.