It is very telling to me how far one, so widely, and astonishingly debunked, study can go when people are looking for something to blame for their ‘problems.’ Before I start posting all the links to since taken down Salon Articles, retractions by the very journal that first published the ‘study’ that started the vaccine firestorm and a few other points in this long and sometimes confusing argument, I would like to address Autism itself and people who have Autism. I personally have had the pleasure to deal with a number of people with Autism through a local nonprofit here in Cincinnati, called Starfire. The people that I met there were all awesome. I found most of the people there to be vibrant, funny, and enthusiastic in ways I never understood before I took the time to meet someone with Autism on a personal level. Most of those people were attempting to live a normal life in a society that tells them, way too many times and way too often, that is something impossible for them. That is unfair and untrue. The way that many of them are portrayed is unfair and untrue. They are not victims and they are not people you should feel sorry for. They are human beings who deserve respect the same as any human being deserves respect. They are not some scapegoat for your next conspiracy theory. They are people you should get to know, if you have the chance, because many of their problems stem from the stigma, not because they are incapable of a lot of the things you think they are. That’s just my two cents but I hope you will think about it the next time you meet someone who you consider handicapped. Read on to see how you are being misled about vaccines.
First things first, if you do not know who Andrew Wakefield is, you are missing a big part of the reason you are being told there is a link between Autism and vaccines. He published a 1998 research paper in the Journal Lancet, with the astonishingly low sample size of 12 kids, all hand-picked by him personally (i.e. Not a random sample like most statistical analysis) and without regard for the various conflicts of interest he had. Since then, his article has been retracted by the journal that published it and a detailed story about why was written in the New York Times about it (which you can be read by clicking here). Now, you might think this retraction has to do with some sort of cover-up by Big Pharma, that is what I usually find people believe when I engage in this conversation but the irony of that is always the best part of the discussion. Two big reasons Andrew Wakefield’s Research paper was retracted are that he failed to reveal that a large part of the cost for the study “…were paid by lawyers for parents seeking to sue vaccine makers for damages” and he “…was also found to have patented in 1997 a measles vaccine that would succeed if the combined vaccine were withdrawn or discredited.” So the irony is that Andrew Wakefield and his friends stood to gain a ton of money if his research proved the link.
There is also more to this story though, Brian Deers and Fiona Godlee from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) actually say what he did was outright fraud, not just negligence. Finona’s story can be found here and Brian Deers web page outlining the whole thing can be found here. I don’t know 100 percent if Dr. Wakefield lied, manipulated the data in such a way to make it look like there is a link when there wasn’t one, or any of the other claims but these two make a pretty good case. The case gets even stronger, when you realize that Dr. Wakefield actually tried to sue both these people and the journal, along with their publishers but the case was dismissed…because you don’t try to sue a journal in England, in a court in Texas (Especially when he could have actually sued in England) unless all you want to do is dish out false outrage for your followers. Now the BMJ did have a conflict of interest, which they published here (Basically they get advertising revenue from drug companies), you make your own decision on that but please keep in mind, one party has been open about any conflict of interest (BMJ) while the other has denied any conflict.
Moving on from Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the big pushers of the anti-vaccine movement in the U.S. are Generation Rescue and The Huffington Post. The main pusher of this agenda at The Huffington Post has been David Kirby, joined at least once by Robert Kennedy Jr (Yes the same Robert Kennedy whose 2005 Slate article had to be corrected because “I regret we didn’t move on this more quickly, as evidence continued to emerge debunking the vaccines and autism link,” says former Salon editor in chief Joan Walsh”). This is actually where things get a little complicated and confusing though, because upon first read of at least one case, David Kirby makes a pretty convincing argument by illustrating the way the Vaccine Court in America doesn’t allow any case that claims there is a link between vaccines and Autism but will admit that, at least in one, specific, case “…the vaccines aggravated a cell disorder [Called Mitochondrial Disease] nobody knew Hannah had, leaving her with permanent brain damage and autistic-like symptoms.” (L. Shaka). Upon first read of this case I thought I was going to have to hunker down and admit that there is possibly a link between Autism and vaccines…until I looked into the cell disorder that Hannah had. The thing about the cell disorder is the side effect that was found to have aggravated her cell disorder and which they found was caused by the vaccine is encephalopathy, which can also “…be prevented by vaccines…” according to the CDC’s Mitochondrial Disease FAQ. This is important for a number of reasons, the least of which is that the cost of not vaccinating is that the cellular disorder can also be aggravated when the person is exposed to the side effect of getting something as simple as the flu or as dangerous as Measles, Mumps, or Rubella, along with the much worse side effects like, you know, personally dying or killing someone else’s kids if it is the latter and not just the former problem of the flu. Dying isn’t just a small risk though, at least 10 children in California have died because parents have stopped vaccinating for whooping cough based on the fear-mongering against the DTP vaccine.
The irony is that because of the widespread fear of the DTP vaccine (The P stands for Pertussis, which is the scientific name for whooping cough), a less ‘dangerous’ vaccine called the DTaP vaccine is now given, that has less of a possibility for side effects but is also less effective…meaning not only are people at risk now who haven’t gotten the vaccine but even people who have gotten the disease are more susceptible because the vaccine is less effective and the amount of time that vaccine keeps you safe hasn’t been sussed out yet.
Now, it seems that the same thing could start happening with the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine because one of the ingredients used to make this vaccine effective was Thimerasol (Note: There is a correction to this at the bottom of the story), which was removed in 2001, because people like Robert Kennedy Jr. and others put forward the idea that it was dangerous because it had the word mercury associated with it. The giant irony of that is that there hasn’t been a change in the rise of Autism anywhere the ingredient has been removed which is totally in keeping with findings like Dr. Paul T. Shattuck’s in the Journal Pediatrics whose study concluded, “data do not support the claim of an autism epidemic because the administrative prevalence figures for most states are well below epidemiological estimates. The growing administrative prevalence of autism from 1994 to 2003 was associated with corresponding declines in the usage of other diagnostic categories.”
Frankly, people have been afraid of vaccines since their inception and been trying to find ways to keep them away for a long time. In fact, when the Small Pox Epidemic was running wild people with dying children had to be forced to vaccinate, according to this NPR story and as a result of these sort of government actions, we no longer have to worry about the small pox virus. I’m sure people will continue to attempt to find ways to avoid vaccines but I know that I will not. After reading through a ton of material (all of which I will list at the bottom of this article), I personally have much less of a worry about vaccinating and much more suspicion of the people who are against vaccination. Most of the so called links are not supported by the science. Most of the things that are supposedly aggravating cellular disorders are actually just as easily aggravated by getting the things being vaccinated for (And the less people who vaccinate children with this cellular disorder are at risk). Overall, although there are always risks to any medical procedure, the risk of not vaccinating is much higher to you and your children, as well as other people and other people’s children. If you want to read more, I have multiple pages of references for you to look through. If you have anything you think should be added, let me know and if it has something new to bring, I will post it without hesitance.
Journal Retracts 1998 Paper Linking Autism to Vaccines, Brian Gardner, Gardiner Harris, Februrary 2, 2010
Book Is Rallying Resistance to the Antivaccine Crusade, Donald G McNeil Jr, January 12, 2009
Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary, Excipients Included in U.S. Vaccines, by Vaccine, Center For Disease Control, Last Updated February 2012
Demystifying Vaccine Ingredients, Todd W. (Harpocratesspeaks.com), April 5 2012
Mitochondrial Disease – Frequently Asked Questions, Centers For Disease Control, Last updated May 13, 2010
Thimerosal in Vaccines Questions and Answers, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Last updated April 30, 2009
Vaccine Court Awards Millions to Two Children With Autism, David Kirby, January 14, 2013
Thimerosal in Vaccines: What Are the Facts?, Paul A. Offit, MD, December 28, 2012
Thimerosal for Vaccines: AAP Endorses WHO Statement, Larry Hand, Dec 17, 2012
British Medical Council Bars Doctor Who Linked Vaccine With Autism, John F. Burns, May 24, 2010
Neurologic adverse events following vaccination, Sienkiewicz D.*, Kułak W., Okurowska-Zawada B., Paszko-Patej G, Prog Health Sci 2012, Vol 2 , No1
Weekly epidemiological record, World Health Organization, 25 MAY 2012
Salon.com flushes its credibility down the toilet, Orac, June 17, 2005
Swimming through the Thimerasol, Orac, June 18, 2005
Is the Rise in Autism Rates Real?, Steven Novella, January 8, 2009
Three Reasons Not to Believe in an Autism Epidemic, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Michelle Dawson, and H. Hill Goldsmith, 2005
NINDS Encephalopathy Information Page, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Last updated November 9, 2010
Children With Autism Have Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Study Finds, Science Daily, November 30, 2010
Possible Side-effects from Vaccines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Last updated August 29, 2012
Mitochondrial dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis, D A Rossignol and R E Frye, Mol Psychiatry, March 2012
Doctor linking MMR vaccine and autism sues critics, Andy Coghlan, 6 January 2012
Andrew Wakefield’s libel suit against Brian Deer: Dismissed!, Orac, August 4, 2012
Exposed: Andrew Wakefield and the MMR-autism fraud, Brian Deer, 2004-2011
Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent, Fiona Godlee, 6 January 2011
Correction to Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent, Fiona Godlee, 6 January 2011
Banned: doctor who linked MMR vaccine with autism, Andy Coghlan, 24 May 2010
Hannah Poling awarded 1.5 million in vaccine injury case, L. Shaka, September 10, 2010
Study provides evidence for effect of expanded diagnostic criteria on rates of autism, L. Shaka, September 29, 2012
Autism spectrum disorder reclassified: a second look at the 1980s Utah/UCLA Autism Epidemiologic Study, Miller JS, Bilder D, Farley M, Coon H, Pinborough-Zimmerman J, Jenson W, Rice CE, Fombonne E, Pingree CB, Ritvo E, Ritvo RA, McMahon WM., January 2013
Petitioners v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Issued with Redaction: July 23, 2010
If You Vaccinate, Ask 8!, What You Need to Know Before & After Vaccination, National Vaccine Information Center, (No date listed for when it was last updated)
Vaccine Ingredients & Side Effects, Generation Rescue, November 2008
Cindy Oxley and Steven Oxley v. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, United States Claims Court, Filed November 27, 1991
Lassiter vs. US Federal Court, United States Court of Federal Claims, Filed December 17, 1996
Bailey Banks, by his father Kevin Banks v. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Filed July 20, 2007
Vaccine Court: Autism Debate Continues, Robert F. Kennedy and David Kirby, February 24, 2009
The “Vaccine Court”, Generation Rescue, (No date when last updated)
Links to Vaccination Schedules, Generation Rescue, (No date when last updated)
How The ‘Pox’ Epidemic Changed Vaccination Rules, Michael Willrich, April 05, 2011
The Contribution of Diagnostic Substitution to the Growing Administrative Prevalence of Autism in US Special Education, Paul T. Shattuck, PhD, August 18, 2005
*Correction: It has been pointed out to me that according to the CDC: “…measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines do not and never did contain thimerosal.”