Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Autism and Vaccinations

We have been following the controversy surrounding autism and vaccinations. The latest round of court proceedings lead to an interesting interview with the former Director of the National Institutes of Health. What she says is pretty shocking. This is the first time I have heard this from someone who has worked for one of the big health care groups.

I think anyone with kids should be keeping track of this controversy.

Here's the CBS interview with Dr. Bernadine Healy:


Shannon said...

Thank you for posting this.

I'm so happy to hear someone in her position saying "maybe." What I don't think so many of the standard medical establishment understand is that the mentality of "I'm right, I know I am and you should just listen to me," really scares some parents away. It is so refreshing to hear someone say "maybe we're wrong, and we should at least do some sound, scientific studies to find out."

Knight in Dragonland said...

Many, many sound scientific studies HAVE been done regarding the possibility of a link between vaccines and autism. This question has been evaluated again and again and again in the scientific literature over the past decade or more, and the preponderance of evidence is that vaccination and autism are not linked.

Let me begin by calling into question the credentials of Dr. Bernadine Healy to speak authoritatively in this matter. Dr. Healy was trained as a cardiologist. She was director of the NIH for 2 years during the first Bush administration (1991-1993). She has served on the advisory board for the Advancement of Sound Science Center - a propaganda house funded by Big Tobacco and Big Oil - which raises major questions regarding her integrity. While she has served in several politically-appointed public health positions, she is in no way an expert in the field of infectious disease, vaccines OR autism.

I don't disagree with what Dr. Healy is saying about subgroup analysis looking for sensitive groups. There are already several subgroup exclusions from the standard vaccine schedule. For example, those with severe immune deficiencies or who are immunosuppressed from chemotherapy should not receive live viral vaccines.

However, I take exception to Dr. Healy's statement that people won't turn their backs on vaccines. Far too many are already turning their backs on vaccines, and many in Hollywood and the media are validating that position based on little more than hysteria.

I'm sorry, but most people don't understand measles or diphtheria or congenital rubella and the threats that they pose because they no longer have first-hand experience with these diseases. I find that statement by Dr. Healy to be extremely naive. She's obviously spent way too much time in the ivory halls of academia where everyone has a Ph.D.

It's as certain as gravity that vaccines are safe for the vast majority of people. It's as clear as the Earth is the third planet from the sun that most cases of autism have nothing to do with vaccination. How many dollars do we spend in pursuing this question, draining away money from research that could benefit the majority? I'm sorry, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

I don't have a problem looking for vaccine sensitive subgroups, but with the caveat that it should never draw money away from more broad-based research into autism and its causes. It should also be done with the utmost care not to generate unneeded hysteria. There's already far too much of that floating about.

If vaccine refusal and delay reaches a critical mass, we will begin to have epidemics again, and many people will be hospitalized. Some will die. Some will be neurologically devastated in a manner far worse than autism. Our healthcare system will strain under an additional burden in a time of rapidly increasing costs. It happened in the U.K. with baseless hysteria over the MMR vaccine, and it will happen here if we let it. That is a very real danger that Dr. Healy seems to casually deny and dismiss. said...

Knight, you have sparked my interest. I didn't realize there are some people who vaccines are not recommended. Can you please explain further. Why are the live viruses the ones these subgroups are avoiding? How can we be sure we are identifying every child within these subgroups? Thank you!

"There are already several subgroup exclusions from the standard vaccine schedule. For example, those with severe immune deficiencies or who are immunosuppressed from chemotherapy should not receive live viral vaccines."

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