Has anyone heard of the ACCV, the Advisory Council of Childhood Vaccines to the Department of Health and Human Services? Most people have not and what is worse, a very large majority of the public does not know about the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
Last month I talked about the horrendous injuries of Gardasil and how the Vaccine Court was handling those petitions for compensation. That has not improved, just more petitions filed and more of them being dismissed. A couple of them were awarded minimal compensation but that is secondary to the damage that the Gardasil vaccine is causing normal, active teenagers.
The ACCV was formed as the advisory committee to the program or specifically to the Secretary of HHS. There are several members, most serving as representatives for industry and medical agencies, an attorney representing the petitioner attorneys, and two parent representatives, who have vaccine injured children. The meetings are held quarterly, the last one Thursday, Sept 6th. The general public is invited to attend via conference call if they cannot attend in person. Most of the meetings are setup as a 2 day, 6 to 8 hours each day to discuss topics of concern to the committee plus status reports about the adjudication of petitions, a report from DOJ attorneys on the status of cases that are appealed or remanded back to the Vaccine Court, plus workgroup reports on recommendations that can be sent on to the Secretary of HHS.
After reading the transcripts of quarterly meetings for the past several years, I have noticed that most of the members are not advocates for the general public or vaccine safety, only the attorney member and parent representatives are the ones challenging the status quo of our nation’s vaccine policy.
A topic that is very important to all of us is the committee’s charge and responsibility of conducting public outreach, in other words, educating the general public and medical communities about the VICP. But as with all issues regarding vaccine policy, special interests and their political clout enters the chambers of the committee and puts a damper on what should be a clear and laser focused effort to provide information to the general public about vaccine compensation.
In 2009, the committee made an attempt to develop a public outreach program. Heavy discussion and debate regarding the determination of desired targets occupied the commissioners during the meetings. Was the end result going to be attendance at a few medical tradeshows handing out a couple dozen brochures to a few doctors who stopped by, or perhaps the development and expansion of the website to provide more information and links to the program, or maybe developing a Public Service Announcement and placing it on TV and Radio outlets, or the use of social media?
The discussion of developing a PSA was very interesting and telling of the motives of several members of this committee. The discussion about a PSA would actually scare more people not to vaccinate trumped the discussion of educating them on what happens if you suspect a vaccine injury.
But what I find very frustrating is what happens with most federal committees and commissions. The committee decided to spend $300,000.00 to contract with a private vendor, Banyon Communications, to develop a public outreach program. The end result was presented to the committee a year later. For $300,000.00, the ACCV decided to provide a couple of links on the website and publish a couple of documents of their recommendations of reform measures that were sent to the Secretary of HHS a few years earlier.
I think that many of us could have thought about this type of recommendation in a couple of minutes, over a cup of coffee, let alone 1 plus year and $300,000.00
But that is the extent of the public outreach. Can’t modify the Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) to make it more prominent about VICP. That is CDC territory. Handcuffed to produce a Public Service Announcement for Radio and TV. That is taboo because too many people will be scared about what might actually happen to their children. And it will begin a slow decay of one of the cornerstones of the vaccine industry. That vaccine injury is very rare. But what is even worse, is that compensation to a vaccine injury is even rarer. And that civil injustice is very rampant.
So people need to start asking, what is the real purpose of the ACCV? No genuine public education of the NVICP. But also to start attending the conference calls and submitting your comments. Next ACCV Meeting is Dec 6th & 7th, 2012.
Wayne Rohde lives in Woodbury, MN. Father of Nick Rohde, a 14 year old vaccine injured boy who later was diagnosed with severe regressive autism. Wayne is currently writing a book about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.