By Anne Dachel
Feb 6, 2015, J.D. Hayworth on America's Forum (NewsMax) Vaccine Debate featuring Barbara Loe Fisher
Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, ended up taking over the discussion. She raised so many important questions and the two men with her could only ask, What if parents get scared and don't vaccinate?
Barbara Loe Fisher: "Vaccines are the only pharmaceutical products that the government recommends and mandates and completely indemnifies. In 1986 Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, gave partial liability protection to vaccine companies who were threatening to go out of the business, leaving this country with no vaccines if they weren't given protection from vaccine injury lawsuits. The pediatricians also got liability protection. In 2011, the Supreme Court said, 'Vaccines are unavoidably unsafe, and therefore there shall be no product liability lawsuits against manufacturers, even if we could provide evidence that the vaccine could be made safer.'
"This means that the ethical principal of informed consent to medical risk taking must apply to vaccines. We cannot be living in a country where government dictates that we use a pharmaceutical product that can cause harm and we cannot hold anybody accountable who makes and profits from the vaccine, who regulates the vaccine, who votes to mandate the vaccine and gives the vaccine accountable in a civil court of law in front of a jury of our peers."
NewsMax co-host Ellis Henican countered by making the claim that vaccines save lives.
NewsMax deputy health editor Nick Tate added,"The debate in science really does not exist. Virtually all mainstream medical groups-CDC, World Health Organization, pediatricians, American Medical Association-all say vaccines are safe, effective and necessary.
Tate expressed concern about what this debate might be "confusing the issue for parents."
Fisher: "Our organization has been here since 1982. . ." She said that the goal of NVIC is to inform the public, prevent injury and death and"to defend the informed consent ethic when it comes to medical risk taking, including vaccine risk taking. And the science is not clear. There is a lot of debate in the medical literature, not only about vaccine risk, but about the long term durability, the effectiveness of these vaccines over time. There's a lot of talk about waning immunity. Certainly pertussis vaccine is an excellent example. The government has already acknowledged that you can be fully vaccinated with pertussis-containing vaccines, you can be infected, show few or no symptoms, you can transmit that infection, whooping cough, to other people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.
"There is also discussion about measles vaccine and its long-term effectiveness. There have been calls in the medical literature for a new .measles shot because there is waning immunity. So the science is not settled. Science is evolving. We have to be open-minded here and we have to talk about doing the good science that will answer the outstanding questions that parents have had for three decades. About the safety of vaccines, certainly, but now about the long-term effectiveness of these vaccines."
Next the discussion turned to politics. The controversy seems more of an issue for the Republicans in the coming presidential election.
Henican: "Barbara, you know that as you raise doubts about the science and seek to undermine public confidence in that, there will be parents who will not get their children vaccinated. Do you worry that we're going to get a big epidemic of measles or other serious diseases that were all but eradicated in this country. Won't you feel bad if that happens?"
Fisher: "I think we have a duty and a responsibility to question one-size-fits all vaccine policies that don't respect bio-diversity, that try to treat everyone the same when we have genetic, and biological and environmental differences that can make some people more susceptible to vaccine reactions and injuries than other people.
"I think that this conversation has become very ugly and divisive. I don't think it's useful. I think we need to talk substantive policy issues like we're doing on this program. I worry about the fact that we have had calls in the last week for imprisonment of parents who do not give their children every government recommended vaccine, lawsuits against parents. People are being demonized, they're being marginalized. Are we going to be a country where we cannot ask questions about public health policies without being punished?
"I want to read the numbers of vaccines that are in the research pipeline, many of which will be mandated, and we need to have the right to make choices: Hepatitis C and E, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV, cytomegalovirus, entrovirus, ecoli, adenovirus, obesity, high blood pressure, acne, tooth decay. If there is an ailment out there, you name it, there's a vaccine being developed for it. We have to be very careful about taking away protections in our vaccine laws in the form of non-medical exemptions so that we have absolutely no choice about the use of liability-free pharmaceutical products that the government recommends. I think it's the responsibility of all of us to ask these questions."
Tate acknowledged that Barbara Loe Fisher had made some valid points.
Tate: "I think she's raising a good issue. The one-size-fits-all. . . In this case, really it should be a one-size-fits-most. That's what the scientists and the doctors say. The vast majority of kids who get vaccines are-it doesn't confer lifelong immunity. There are some efficiency questions: Can we make vaccines better? Can we make them safer? Absolutely. Should that research continue? Absolutely. But what doctors will say is that we need to do the best that we can for those vaccines, for those diseases that are communicable. Many of the things Barbara listed are things that will affect you individually. They won't affect other people. When parents decide not to vaccinate their children against preventable diseases, they're often making the choice not only for their children, but for other children in the community. That's the larger, more difficult issue. I commend Barbara for trying to raise the level of debate so we're not demonizing parents on either side.
Parents on either side of this issue are concerned about the safety of their children. That needs to be priority one. . . ."
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 is on sale now from Skyhorse Publishing.