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The vaccine debate has a real cost

Posted Mar 31 2009 11:39pm

Of course, this isn’t news. But usually the cost is characterized in the danger to public health.

What about the cost to people with autism? Here’s a blog post from the Simons Foundation. (as an aside—there is a real autism organization). They are quoting Cathy Lord and Paul Shattuck.

Given the diversity of the panel’s members, the strategic plan was, unsurprisingly enough, hotly debated, and continues to be scrutinized.

Most of the debate centers around the plan’s emphasis on environmental risk factors. Lord says this came at the cost of research on more worthwhile topics, such as how to expand treatment services to low-income families — a project for which she was hoping to be funded.

“It’s gone, just gone. I was pretty astonished to see that that had disappeared,” she says.

The report also doesn’t emphasize studying autism’s course beyond childhood, notes Shattuck. “The amount of money that goes into understanding services and aging and supporting people in their daily lives seems disproportionately small,” he says.

One of the problems with the vaccines-cause-autism groups is that they really don’t advocate for people with autism. They have abandoned entirely people of low income and minorities (except where they can be used for political gain).

It isn’t just that groups like SafeMinds, Generation Rescue and the rest can’t be bothered to spend the time worrying about minorities or adults. It’s the fact that the data those groups use to support the “epidemic” makes ZERO sense when you consider minorities.

Consider this: the “rate” of autism is 0.3 per 1,000 for Hispanics in Wisconsin, but 10.6 for Whites in New Jersey.

Why isn’t Generation Rescue calling for an investigating the Hispanics of Wisconsin? Shouldn’t they want to know what is “protecting” that subgroup from autism?

They don’t care, they don’t want to bring attention to the Hispanics in Wisconsin (or the under represented minorities across the nation), because it blows a big hole in the “epidemic”. Obviously we still aren’t counting all the people with autism in our prevalence estimates. How can we rely on the historical data that shows an “epidemic” if we aren’t doing a good job even now?

We’ve covered this many times in the past. It is one thing when the damage caused is more abstract. But when it become very real, when minorities are being left out in the cold, it is an outrage.

Hours and hours were spent in the IACC meetings wordsmithing the vaccine language. To groups like SafeMinds and people like Lyn Redwood, the Strategic Plan was a political document. It was a statement by the government, and it was critical to get as much “admission” of autism being caused by vaccines as was possible. So what if another generation of minorities gets mislabeled with Intellectual Disability or some other Special Education category when SafeMinds was able to get the IACC to admit that many parents think vaccines cause autism?

This is what happens when psuedo “Vaccine-injury” advocates pretend to be Autism advocates and take seats at the table. Lyn Redwood put her own interests and those of her organizations ahead of the well being of people with autism.

That’s just plain wrong.

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