By Bob Moffitt
"Tonight, FRONTLINE reports on the science and politics of the bitter vaccine war"
FRONTLINE's producers and writers wasted their time .. as well as the viewer's time .. reporting on a "war" already too long in progress. What they should have done was explore the reasons why science and parents .. once equal partners in a war against communicable diseases .. have suddenly become bitter enemies today? What caused so many parents .. who less than two decades ago eagerly vaccinated their children .. to enlist in the widespread and growing army of hesitant parents .. openly distrustful of science .. vaccines .. and regulatory public health agencies that recommend and approve them?
As in all wars .. justified grievances .. accompanied by troubling events .. ignored by government .. fester and accumulate .. causing tensions to rise .. until eventually .. the aggrieved parties believe they have no alternative but to defiantly resist. What FRONTLINE describes as the "Vaccine War" .. is no different.
Following are just some of the justified parental grievances and troubling events .. that .. for at least a decade .. maybe two .. have been ignored .. by science, government and mainstream media. They are not listed in any order of priority or importance. They are .. none-the-less .. real not imagined.
#1 - In the late 1980's .. science began increasing the numbers of vaccines that government recommended children receive.
#2 - Coincidentally, in the late 1980's formerly uncommon chronic autoimmune diseases dramatically increased .. allergies, asthma, just two of many .. increases that science and government cannot .. after a full decade of opportunity to do so .. calm parental fears that increased vaccines may be a contributing factor. #3 - As vaccines and chronic diseases increased in tandem ..some parents grew uneasy .. fearing their children were being given"too many, too soon" vaccines. Science responded with a very reasonable .. scientific .. plausible denial .. "correlation does not prove causation".
This plausible denial proved very effective .. and, only began to lose it's effectiveness when
#4 - Throughout the 1990's .. autism began a dramatic increase .. with tens of thousands of parents .. reporting they had taken their perfectly healthy, developing child to the pediatrician .. and .. within moments, hours, days or weeks of receiving vaccines .. they witnessed their child withdraw .. regress .. eventually being diagnosed with autism. Parents had accepted the possibility that a few hundred children .. or even a few thousand .. maybe sheer coincidental to vaccines .. but tens of thousands .. that continues to this day .. suggests more than sheer coincidence may be responsible.
Unable to explain skyrocketing autism rates .. science again responded with a plausible denial .. the increase in autism was not "real" .. but .. merely the result of "better diagnosis" and a "broader spectrum". While experts argued if the increase was real or not .. parents watched as autism rates continued to rise....
#5 - Pediatricians, already indifferent to parents questioning the number of vaccines recommended for their children .. were confounded by new parental concerns regarding toxic ingredients in vaccines, such as, thimerosal, a mercury based preservative then commonly found in childhood vaccines.
#6 - As tensions rose ... parents began questioning if it were necessary to give six, seven, eight vaccines to their child in a single visit .. and .. pediatricians firmly responded .. not only was it necessary .. it was approved and recommended medical practice by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) .. as well as regulatory public health agencies (CDC).
#7 - Science, public health agencies and vaccine manufacturers .. frustrated by their inability to convince parents vaccines were not responsible for rising autism rates .. financed numerous epidemiological studies .. and .. they were rewarded when every study they financed concluded there was no link between "vaccines and autism". Again, these studies initially provided plausible denial .. however .. over years .. a majority of these studies have been deemed unreliable ... making their conclusions now suspect.
#8 - Battle-lines hardened when parents learned of a clandestine meeting held in Atlanta, Georgia .. attended exclusively by public health and vaccine industry officials .. all heavily invested in protecting the "safety" reputations of vaccines. During this meeting, thimerosal, the cost-effective .. mercury based neuro-toxin .. already under heavy suspicion by parents as a possible contributing factor to inexplicable rising autism rates .. was greatly discussed.
#9 - When transcripts of this meeting eventually surfaced .. parents were shocked to read some of the damning statements made by those in attendance .. such as .. one individual who stated he would make certain his newborn grandson would never receive a vaccine containing thimerosal. In addition .. parents were further inflamed when they learned critical data upon which public health officials based their decision to "recommend" rather than "recall" thimerosal laced vaccines was missing .. thereby effectively preventing any in-depth, independent review of the data.
#10 - Open hostilities now began to show .. poorly attended yet passionate demonstrations by parents in Washington, D.C. .. the first of many .. were largely ignored by a biased, compliant media .. possibly more concerned over the potential loss of crucial pharmaceutical advertising dollars than they were about giving "fair and balanced" reports on why parents had taken to the streets.
This is just a snap-shot of the grievances and events that preceded FRONTLINE's narrative of the "Vaccine Wars" .. and .. the grievances continue to grow by the day. FRONTLINE's failure to deeply explore these grievances and events .. is similar to a "bunker mentality" .. and .. it should surprise no one that many were disappointed in FRONTLINE's production.
Unfortunately, FRONTLINE's production "Vaccine Wars" did nothing more than gather together the same experts .. offering the same plausible denials. For some unfathomable reason .. FRONTLINE .. whether completely out of touch with their subject, sheer laziness or simple incompetence .. one expert chosen was Dr. Paul Offit .. a man FRONTLINE described as "a pediatrician and co-inventor of a vaccine against rotavirus" .. "who is seen in some quarters, not as a hero for inventing a vaccine .. but .. as a self-interested entrepreneur, whom skeptics call Dr. Proft". Why choose an expert .. who does not treat children with autism .. who has theorized that a child can easily tolerate 100,000 vaccines prior to the age of six .. knowing his appearance will only serve to further inflame parents?
FRONTLINE should have done better than relying upon experts .. constantly recalling battles already won .. such as .. vaccines that eradicated smallpox and polio .. but .. have little or no contact with today's hesitant parents .. who are heavily engaged waging battles against a myriad of chronic autoimmune diseases. FRONTLINE provided video images .. and .. experts sounded almost nostalgic .. recalling the days of their youth .. when polio was raging .. images of iron lungs and paralysis still firmly embedded in their minds.
Today's hesitant parents wondered .. where are the video images and experts offering personal experience .. detailing the suffering and difficulties of treating a child on the lowest end of the autism spectrum?
FRONTLINE should do a FRONTLINE .. on the many mistakes they made while producing the "Vaccine War".
a) Stop aiding and abetting science in avoiding legitimate debate of parental concerns .. by acknowledging the many preeminent scientists that have spoken out in their support.
b) Stop pretending that Jenny McCarthy, Dr. Andrew Wakefield .. or access to the Internet .. are responsible for the sharp rise in the number of parents who refused or delayed vaccinations in the past decade .. increasing from 22% in 2003 .. to 39% in 2008.
The number of hesitant parents continues to grow because the number of vaccines and the numbers of children being diagnosed with chronic autoimmune diseases continues to grow. Indeed, today's hesitant parents are more likely to get their information in casual conversations with other parents .. standing at the school bus stop in the morning .. taking their kids to the neighborhood playground .. or anywhere else parents of children gather. Since the majority of hesitant parents are reported to have higher educations .. it is demeaning to assume "youtube" is causing their hesitancy.
c) Stop demonizing parents .. holding unvaccinated children responsible when vaccinated children contract a preventable disease. If anything .. the vaccine .. not the unvaccinated child .. should be held responsible for failing to protect the child. Deliberately pitting parents against each other .. when each are doing what they believe to be in the best interest of their child .. is wrong .. and .. if it continues .. it may "get ugly" as one mother of a vaccinated child warned.
d) Join parents seeking common sense research .. such as .. a scientific, independent study of "vaccinated vs. unvaccinated" populations to ascertain if BOTH populations have suffered the same, inexplicable, dramatic increase in chronic autoimmune diseases. The plausible denials offered to avoid doing this study are simply not credible.
e) Join parents requesting re-evaluation of the questionable "benefits" of some vaccines, such as, HEP B .. given within hours of birth .. ostensibly to protect that newborn from a disease that is primarily spread through sexual conduct. There are other vaccines on the schedule that require re-evaluation .. to make certain the threat they pose is worse than the risk of vaccinating every child.
f) Join parents demanding "caution" rather than "expediency" be the standard when .. for example .. rotavirus vaccines are found to be contaminated with a pig virus. Join parents demanding contaminated vaccines be removed from the schedule .. until vaccine manufacturers have proved the pig virus is harmless when injected into children. Children ought not be used as guinea pigs to evaluate the unknown risk a pig virus may have on mankind. Join parents in questioning premature assessments .. such as .. "we have no evidence of harm from pig virus". That is corporate damage control .. not science.
Hopefully, FRONTLINE can use "The Vaccine War" as a learning experience. Perhaps next time they visit "The Vaccine War" .. they can actually produce a program that Edward R. Murrow would be proud of.
Bob Moffitt is 71 years of age .. retired .. the proud grandfather of Bobby Moffitt, a lovable ten year old, nonverbal boy .. who "regressed" eight years ago.