By Anne Dachel
You can't bring up the link between vaccines and autism without hearing about a paper published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, in 1998. The author was the much vilified doctor, Andrew Wakefield, and for the sixteen years, the media has blamed the controversy over vaccines and autism on Dr. Wakefield, (and of course, "former Playboy bunny," Jenny McCarthy).
(I just finished my book, The Big Autism Cover-Up, and the second chapter is all about how the press made Wakefield into the fall guy for linking vaccines and autism.)
The media loves to tell us about how Wakefield produced a fraudulent study and lost his medical license, conveniently leaving out the details--like the fact that parents came to him for help because he's a gastroenterologist and their kids had bowel disease--which they developed along with autism after receiving the MMR vaccine. I have never seen coverage where a member of the press actually talked to even one of the 12 parents Wakefield wrote about. No one wants to hear the truth about his work. No reporter ever mentions the fact that the British government indemnified the MMR maker, so it would be the government that would have to take responsibility for the damage done, something that would be a huge incentive for them to attack this man.
Dr. Wakefield is a hero to the autism community. He does not quit. There are lots of doctors who know what vaccines are really doing to our children, but they remain silent. It takes a special kind of courage to stand by the truth and have your career and your reputation destroyed. Wakefield has been a constant presence at the annual Autism One Conference in Chicago since its beginning and this year's talk, the Legacy of Vaccine Injury, was empowering for the parents who were there.
While the media continues the pretense that all the science is in and parents should have no fears about vaccinating their children, Wakefield is out there challenging both the claims of vaccine safety and efficacy. And he's not going away. Despite the fact that, as he said, he's a "disenfranchised" scientist, he talked about his current work in filmmaking. He's out to educate parents who are new to the controversy, but none-the-less worried. He has, as he said, "the most extraordinary stories to tell." Films are a most important medium because, according to Wakefield, the story of just one person has more of an impact than talking about what happened to a million people. It "can persuade the agnostic."
Wakefield made it clear that while the vaccine makers continue to promote their products, the tide is turning against them.
"The pharmaceutical industry has spent $30 billion a year on promoting vaccines. They should have saved their money because they've failed. They've failed. In a recent poll, U.S. adults who believe vaccines cause autism rose from 18 percent in 2011 to 29 percent today. There's 33 percent of all parents with children under 18. In polling terms, . . . that is a massive proportion of the American public. In a National Consumer League poll, 76 percent believe that it was their prerogative to decide how and if their children should be vaccinated. And the harder the other side pushes, the more mandates they impose, the more things they take away, such as exemptions, the more they force the people of this country to bow to their will, the more resistance they will meet. And they don't understand that. They do not get yet that they have wasted their time and money. . . . They've paid a fortune to public relations companies."
Wakefield said that the CDC and the drug companies have not been honest with the PR companies they have promoting their vaccines and therefore these companies are going to fail.
It's because of the people who've experienced vaccine damage firsthand--all the children everywhere. It's because of the "wave, the pandemic of neuro-developmental disorders" and all the other chronic illnesses plaguing our children that no one in authority can reasonably explain. Wakefield made a reference to the "continued rate of growth of people who do not believe in the safety of vaccines." He pointed out there was no mention of people that were undecided in the polling. He cited another poll that asked the question, "Do you think doctors know vaccines cause autism and are covering it up?" "Twenty percent of respondents said yes," He added, "The important number is that 36 percent didn't know. And it's that 36 percent that I am targeting in the films that I am making."
Wakefield talked about how even peer-reviewed journals don't get the facts right when they bring up his work and the unique bowel disease he discovered in autistic children. The failure of the medical community is their inability to deal with the real health problems of autistic children. Doctors aren't asking, "Is this child sick? What ails them? What should I do as a clinician to make them better?" Pediatricians and pediatric gastroenterologists aren't doing their jobs, according to Wakefield.
"This is utter, utter hypocrisy. ...People were deterred from this line of inquiry because they feared what might happen to them. They put themselves before suffering children. Shame on them."
Wakefield next discussed the staunchly held tenet of medical belief that vaccines, as one of the greatest medical advancements in history, "result in universal benefit."
He asked, "What if it's not? What if that's not true? What if the onset of these problems are so insidious, so widespread, so unexpected, rather like narcolepsy with flu vaccine? Whoever expected that? You're not just looking for things you know might occur, but you're looking for things that are completely new, idiosyncratic. Or are you?"
Wakefield brought up the concept of "perceived benefits" and "what the long term implications are for interfering with the ecosystem."
He cited the example of thalidomide, a drug for morning sickness that the FDA refused to license. Not every child whose mother used the drug was injured. It depended on the timing during pregnancy.
Wakefield discussed the differences between natural immunity to diseases like measles gained through exposure vs. artificial immunity through vaccination, which wears off. "This is called secondary vaccine failure. . . . Measles vaccine was sold to us on the basis of once in a lifetime. Then it became, 'Oops, no, not quite. Let's give a preschool booster.' You get your preschool booster, that lasts for even less time in the majority of people, and then it decays and then you are susceptible to measles for life. Unless of course you are revaccinated. But that's not going to last. So maybe you should be revaccinated every year. These unanticipated consequences by the gung-ho attitude, let's get in there and vaccinate, has created a population that is now dependent on repeated immunization.
"What a tremendous market. Wow.
"And this patented exposure is the same for the chicken pox vaccine and for other vaccines. They created a market, and I've been told by an insider at Merck that they knew this."
Wakefield went on to describe the link between the chicken pox vaccine and the epidemic of shingles we're now seeing in older people.
"Merck apparently knew when they launched the chicken pox vaccine, that they were creating a new market for a shingles vaccine. And that's exactly what they did. Ten-fold increase in the chicken pox vaccine dose then became the shingles vaccine."
Wakefield talked about the "unintended ecological consequences of what we have done" and he cited the development of disease strains that are immune to the vaccine's immune response.
Wakefield pointed out that there's a pertussis stain that has eluded protection from the pertussis vaccine. He said that live virus vaccines like the MMR make the people who received them infectious. He brought up Dr. Gregory Poland, a leading national vaccine expert at the Mayo Clinic who says that the measles vaccine doesn't provide lifelong immunity.
Wakefield: "You were told it would work. That was the reason you went along with it. It does not work.
"Not just that it's not safe, it hasn't been properly tested for safety. It does not work."
"We're seeing mumps outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations around the world. . . . What is the response [from health officials]? Vaccinate. . . .
"That mumps vaccine is a huge commercial success precisely because it doesn't work. How many products can you say that about? You can just see the sales curve go up. The worse the vaccine, the more you need to get it."
"Mumps in children is a virtually harmless disease. Mumps in post puberty males is not. ..." He then explained how we've delayed susceptibility until the most vulnerable age for males which could result in sterility.. "We've taken a trivial disease and made it much more dangerous."
Wakefield told the audience that health officials at the CDC and in the UK had gone on the record saying that there was no need for a mumps vaccine. "So how did it ever come into being? . . . "I believe it was a commercial strategy" on the part of the industry. They basically pressured health officials into okaying this unnecessary and potentially dangerous vaccine.
Most alarming of all was what Wakefield had to say about the mumps vaccine trials. When health officials from the FDA questioned Merck about the mumps vaccine's efficacy, they produced a number of fraudulent studies to show the vaccine worked. There was no surprise inspection, since the FDA alerted researchers that they would be coming.
Wakefield went on to reflect on how boys are failing in our education system. We see this in autism where the rate is four times greater for boys than girls. We also see girls excelling in school while boys are increasingly less successful.
Wakefield talked about the impact lead can have on boys' intelligence.
"We know that thimerosal is even more toxic than lead." Males are extremely susceptible to mercury, just like lead.
Wakefield talked about where all this is headed and he promised that there will be a resolution to this controversy. "I don't want to leave you with a less than optimistic position. I do believe we will win. I don't know what winning means. I have no idea what winning looks like. Perhaps it is safer to say that the other side is going to lose. . . . This has been an atrocious experience, but I for one will never quit until we have an answer."
Wakefield urged his audience to take action. "The rest is up to you. . . .You've been given a democratic right to vote and change things. You've got to do it. It's no good sitting back and looking at people like the Geiers and Brian Hooker and others and saying, 'They can do the heavy lifting and carrying and it's all going to get better.' No it's not.
"This has to translate into you taking action. Not casting your vote based upon the economy or what's happening around the world, but based upon who's going to do the right thing for your child and your grandchildren. And if you don't do that, it will continue."
Wakefield made it clear there can no longer be excuses for not taking action. "You have got to take this as your responsibility, your moral and ethical responsibility. Your physical responsibility. You have to make things change, because otherwise, the CDC will go on lying, go on covering things up, and doing things, not in your best interest or your children's interest, but their own interest and the pharmaceutical industry's interest. It's a business decision. Vaccination has got to be your choice. It's got to be your choice. Whether you do or don't, that's your business. But it has to be your business-and not Paul Offit's. business. Your business."
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which goes on sale this Fall from Skyhorse Publishing.