May 25, 2016, Philly.com (Philadelphia Inquirer): Are we really still talking about Wakefield's autism con? By Michael Yudell PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University
May 25, 2016, Washington Post: Washington Post: 7 things about vaccines and autism that the movie ‘Vaxxed’ won’t tell you, By Ariana Eunjung Cha
May 25, 2016, PBS News Hour: Here’s why states want to make it tough to skip childhood vaccines, By Sarah Breitenbach
May 25, 2016, National Catholic Reporter: Stories of the lives and deaths of writers, By Diane Scharper
"Last weekend Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former British physician, brought his shameful film Vaxxed to Philadelphia, where it is now screening at the Ritz Five. The film tries to resuscitate the unsupported belief that autism is caused by vaccination, specifically the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR). Study after study after study has shown this to be an outright false claim."
Michael Yudell, an expert with lots of credentials, turned "Vaxxed" into a movie about Wakefield, whom he thoroughly trashes here. Clearly he never watched the film, or if he did, nothing about fraud, corruption and cover-up at the CDC really bothers him.
I posted a comment.
"On its surface, the movie 'Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe' appears to be a slickly produced scientific documentary with lots of charts and data about one of the most important issues of our time. The central premise of the film is that the country's mandatory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine — when given to children under age 2 — may be leading to an epidemic of autism diagnoses.
Incredibly this wasn't a review of "Vaxxed" as much as it was a trashing of Andrew Wakefield. I posted comments, including one entitled, "9 things about vaccines and autism that the Washington Post won't tell you." I also pointed out that reporters like Cha love to trash Dr. Wakefield, but they will never interview him to get his side in the debate.
"When Jennifer Stella’s two children were babies, she made sure they got all the usual vaccines. But when one started having seizures and the other developed eczema after they’d gotten immunizations, the Vermont woman decided her kids would no longer get shots required to attend school.
"Stella, a co-founder of the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice, is among a growing number of parents who are opting out of childhood vaccinations because they’re worried about their safety. Public health experts say the movement is leading to outbreaks of nearly eradicated dangerous diseases, such as measles and whooping, among clusters of unvaccinated kids. ..."
After this stunning opening Breitenbach quickly changed the topic, never exploring the implication that vaccines can injury children. Instead she wrote about the move to end non-medical exemptions in various state legislatures. While she did quote Barbara Loe Fisher from the National Vaccine Information Center on parental rights, Breitenbach included an Iowa epidemiologist who countered, 'This is not an individual decision; this is a decision that affects the whole community.'
It was hard to move beyond the opening account of a mother whose children developed seizures and eczema following vaccination. Both of these conditions are officially recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I'm sure many reading this came to the stark realization that bad things can happen when kids are vaccinated, but it's an acceptable risk. You have to remember the good of 'the whole community.'
REVIEW: IN A DIFFERENT KEY: THE STORY OF AUTISM By John Donvan and Caren Zucker
"The story of autism began hundreds of years ago when people with autistic-like symptoms were called holy fools and sometimes saints. Later, in the 17th and 18th centuries, people who made strange movements and sounds were considered witches and burned at the stake. Some were put in a confined space known as an idiot's cage.
"More recently, people who exhibited unusual behaviors were placed in institutions. ...
"John Donvan and Caren Zucker's compelling book, In a Different Key, focuses on the recent history of autism in the United States. The authors build their story around a little boy named Donald Triplett. ...
"In these early cases of autism, the condition was considered something caused by "refrigerator mothers." Later, some blamed vaccines. Now, autism is believed to be caused by a genetic predisposition combined with environmental factors.
"The book covers campaigns to promote autism awareness and acceptance, as well as efforts to understand the cause of the syndrome, whose effects vary widely, with some people able to function well and others severely disabled....
"But happy surprises like those are rare in this book, whose bottom line is that even after nearly 80 years of scientific research, no one knows what autism is or what causes it."
As a Catholic, this is as disappointing as when the Pope gave a child in Mexico a vaccination for polio.
The National Catholic Reporter reviewed In a Different Key, telling us that autism has always been here, we just didn't know what it was and we did nothing to address the need of those with the disorder. It advocates for acceptance and services. The NCR relegates the link to vaccines to past tense and to the level of those who blamed 'refrigerator mothers' for autism.
Most frightening of all is the offhanded ending where Sharper casually states, "even after nearly 80 years of scientific research, no one knows what autism is or what causes it."
So what if children today can suddenly lose learned skills and regress into autism. So what if doctors are clueless. So what if health officials have never called autism a crisis. So what if the numbers get worse. So what if children aging out of school have nowhere to go. All we really need is" awareness and acceptance." There's no call for answers here. There's no recognition that this is a health care emergency that no one in authority will address. Sharper tells us that autism has been here for "hundreds of years." It's so disappointing when even the Church doesn't care what's happening to our children.
Here are my coverage of In a Different Key. Too bad Diane Sharper at the NCR didn't read any of it.
January 18, 2016
Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autism.