David Kirby's Comments at the Vaccine Safety Meeting On Friday
Posted Aug 24 2008 7:08pm
Reports and transcripts from the NVAC meeting on Friday are trickling out. Age of Autism will be posting some later.
For now, here are David Kirby's comments. He brings to their attention important points about public trust and challenges Dr. Marie "Scientifically Illiterate Parents" McCormick that her rush to 'reassure' parents will be fruitless if real answers to all the questions parents have are not given. (From what I have heard about the meeting, Dr. McCormick still does not get that her 'just take my word for it, I am a doctor' means nothing any more.)
Kirby then goes on to put some of those questions on the record. My list of questions is a good deal longer, but even getting these addressed properly is a good start.
If they make no attempt to address them, then we know that this is just for show.
Hello, my name is David Kirby, I am an author and journalist, and my only conflict of interest is that I wrote a book about vaccines and autism. But I don’t plan on selling any books here today.
This has been a really extraordinary meeting, and I am very happy that everyone came together to discuss this important topic. I will probably be reporting on this in various venues, though I am not quite sure what my, what we call “take home message,” is going to be.
But I do want to say, and at the risk of overstatement: History will judge each and every one of you. A year from now, five years from now, ten years from now, people like me will look back on the history of vaccine safety in this country, and look at you folks, and say, “What did they do?”
Now, I am going to guess from your body language that you know that there is an issue here. We have a problem with the vaccine schedule. We don’t know what it is.
You have the power to listen to these community people, and make some decisions. And you are maybe going to make the decision that you are going to look into this situation, and change things.
Or, you are going to decide to protect the status quo. And if you do that, you do that with several risks.
One risk is that there really is a problem, perhaps, with the vaccine schedule. We know that Hannah Poling was injured by her vaccines, and now she has autism.
For all we know, some kid right now with mitochondrial dysfunction getting vaccinated with multiple vaccines may get seizures, may get fevers. We don’t know what the ultimate outcome for that child may be. Keep that in mind as you are revising the schedule – or not.
Now, you can choose to support the status quo, and pretend that we don’t have a problem with this. But if you think you have trust problems now, you can imagine how far away you are going to send parents from vaccination.
I am extremely pro-vaccine. But I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I talk to young parents in my neighborhood all the time. These are not autism parents, these are not vaccine activists.
These are frightened, young Americans who are looking to you for guidance. And you know what? They don’t trust you. And I take no pleasure in saying that.
But you have a real problem on your hands, and as a journalist, I am here telling you: Yes, they want to vaccinate their kids. Yes, they want to believe in the medical establishment, and the government. But they don’t trust you, a good number of them. And I know that doesn’t sound nice to hear. But you have to take that into account.
A couple of other comments that were made here today - and as a journalist, I probably will mention this in my reporting – Dr. McCormick asked “How quickly can we get the information out to the public after these RCAs (Rapid Cycle Analysis of vaccine adverse events) are done?”
She wanted to know so that we can reassure the public. Well, that data is not always going to be reassuring. And I understand the desire to reassure. Everybody wants to reassure. It feels good to reassure people.
But when people have genuine concerns about vaccine safety, and all they get is reassurances when their questions are not being addressed directly, that doesn’t build trust, that doesn’t support transparency. Instead, that will drive parents away from vaccination in very dangerous droves. And nobody in this room wants to see that happen. We all want to protect the children of this country.
Now, I just have a few very quick questions about the vaccine schedule:
● We have been hearing a lot of talk from the CDC lately about flexibility. And my question is: If there is flexibility, and parents do have the right to talk to their doctor, will Hepatitis B vaccine still be basically mandatory at birth? Or will parents have a right to say, “No, I prefer to wait a while?”
● On that subject, what exactly is the rationale for giving Hepatitis B vaccine at birth? I have heard about four or five different rationales from different public health people. And without knowing the exact reason, it makes it very hard to decide whether it is a good idea or not.
● I would like to know, if MMR titers can be offered to parents, so that after the first set of vaccinations, if the child has developed immunity, is it necessary to revaccinate? Would a certificate be available for that child to prove that they have immunity, and don’t need to get revaccinated?
● On MMR, can we possibly separate out the M, M and the R, if parents want? Can we encourage industry to produce more monovalent vaccine? And can we work with parents who want to go that route?
● And again, can we encourage them to come back and get the other vaccines? No one wants children to go unprotected. But parents have reasons for asking these questions, and if they are not given the proper answers, they may just not vaccinate.
● Can we get testing on vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations in this country? To give us some idea if there really are any differences? Maybe there are no more adverse events in the vaccinated over the unvaccinated population. But if there are, that will at least give us some direction of things to go look at.
● What is being done to identify children with mitochondrial dysfunction, before vaccination – whether it is a nuclear DNA test, a mitochondrial DNA test, or even just a simple blood test for certain metabolic markers? If we are able to identify these children, I realize that it is very precarious. They should be first in line to be vaccinated, because they might be more at risk for regression due to febrile infections.
● But, should we create a separate schedule for those children? Yes, they may need to be vaccinated first, but that one-size schedule does not fit all, including the children with mitochondrial dysfunction.
● And finally, my last question, (let me look at my notes), when we talk about relative risk, can we also look at lifetime risks? Particularly for the flu vaccine, which some people get every year. And my understanding is that lifetime risks are actually magnified quite a bit when you talk about yearly vaccination.
These are not just rhetorical questions. I don’t expect an answer, but I did want these questions to be put on the record.
Thank you very much. I appreciate the chance to speak.