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SafeMinds Video Reviews Sebelius's Errors on Vaccine Safety

Posted Jan 10 2011 12:00am

From SafeMinds :This video has been some months in the making and its release is highly appropriate given the new allegations regarding Dr. Andrew Wakefield, which we believe to be calculated primarily to attempt to end the debate over vaccines and autism, rather than having any merit. Please watch the video and then read the commentary below:

Last spring, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius was interviewed by Reader's Digest (HERE) . In her interview, she stated that people who question vaccine safety should not be given equal weight by the press, compared to public health officials.

Since the vaccine/autism controversy is back in the news this week, we thought that it was important to help the press understand that they need to do their homework on this issue.

The health of 4 million infants a year in the United States and millions more worldwide is riding on the ability of our press to finally delve into this issue and think critically about it. Vaccines are a multi-billion dollar industry internationally and for many pharmaceutical companies, it is the fastest -growing segment of their business. Even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) make money from licensing of vaccines. There is also a swiftly revolving door between the CDC, the FDA and the vaccine manufacturers in terms of recruiting. For example, former CDC director, Julie Gerberding, is now the head of Merck's vaccine division. Truly unconflicted research in this area is rare and SafeMinds has information obtained through FOIA requests indicating that the CDC has massaged data to its own benefit in the past.

We would truly like to see all journalists investigate this debate and not just follow the party line. SafeMinds has been mischaracterized as an anti-vaccine group. We are actually a group of concerned citizens who know too much to stay quiet. The truth is that we actually read the research (not just the abstracts and not just the big journals) and look at the details. The associations between autism and mercury and autism and vaccines are still open questions. The majority of the studies that claim to "prove" that autism is not associated with Thimerosal or MMR (the entire rest of the childhood schedule has never even been looked at in this regard) have significant conflicts of interest, have significant flaws in their methods and/or do not answer the whole question.

On the other side of this debate, and rarely mentioned by the press, are the biological studies that continue to be published supporting these associations. Ultimately, public health needs to be about both protection from infectious diseases and protection from chronic health conditions. In order to have informed consent and the greatest possible safety for our children, we must weigh both the risks and the benefits of any medical intervention, including vaccines.

At this point, we largely know the benefits of vaccines, but the research on their potential risks is grossly inadequate. SafeMinds has been asking for more than 5 years that the government perform a large study of fully-vaccinated children compared to unvaccinated controls to assess their total health and to compare autism rates in the two populations. The standard response to our request has been silence or the argument that to leave children unvaccinated is "unethical."We feel it is more unethical to inject 4 million infants a year in this country with a vaccine schedule that has not been subjected to a placebo-controlled clinical trial.

This assumption of safety is analogous to arguing that because 10 individual drugs are safe for children, it is therefore safe to give a child all 10 at once. In addition, the safety and efficacy testing of a new vaccine is often performed only in comparison to a previously approved vaccine, not to a true placebo. Regarding long-term outcomes, the use of hormone-replacement therapy comes to mind as an example of why it is critical not to assume safety of any widespread treatment without actually following patients over decades.

There is currently no enforced requirement that pediatricians report adverse vaccine reactions and manufacturers bear no financial liability for the safety of vaccines.Vaccine injuries are handled through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) which is grossly dysfunctional. Long-term safety studies of vaccines for outcomes other than infectious disease have not been completed. Until these situations are resolved, it is truly impossible for an accurate risk/benefit analysis of vaccines to be made.

Please consider educating your readers, your viewers, your families, your friends, your doctors and your legislators about what is going on and please forward this e-mail widely. Ultimately, we all want the healthiest children possible.

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