Friday, May 07, 2010

WHY RALLY?

Last week I blogged about the American Rally for Personal Rights, to be held in Chicago’s Grant Park on May 26, 2010. I thought I might say a little more about our personal commitment to this event and this cause.

Questioning our country’s regulation of vaccine safety could not be more timely. Every day we hear about more and more extraneous viruses being found in vaccines. A May 7th hearing by a FDA committee looked at such problems in the RotaRix vaccine, and it was acknowledged that there may be far more such viruses than have been identified. That meeting came just one day after the announcement that the competing RotaTeq vaccine developed by Paul “10,000 in a day” Offitt contained PCV1 and PCV2 virus DNA fragments. That’s right; kindly Doc O has been injecting our kids with a pig virus, with unknown effects on humans.

Just seven weeks before that news came out, the FDA announced that there was no such contamination in the RotaTeq. I wonder who at the FDA will get the same treatment afforded to Julie Gerberding, the former head of the CDC who is now the president of Merck’s vaccine division, the same company that manufactures and sells ⎯ you guessed it ⎯ RotaTeq.

Safety concerns are routinely swept under the rug, which should surprise no one considering the cozy relationship and revolving door between the industry and the agencies that are supposed to regulate it.

It makes us mad that science has been perverted into a vehicle to make huge profits with no concern for the safety of the consumer. And it makes us mad that our government aids and abets that process.

My wife has spent her professional life working in hospitals, and has seen an explosion of chronic disease and autoimmune disorders in recent years. All of this is happening in younger patients than ever before. That’s on top of the breath-taking rise in developmental disabilities in children. And nobody is asking why.

The causes of all these problems are no doubt complex, and include various environmental exposures and a tainted food supply, but one can’t help but observe that the rise in these problems has occurred at the same time our vaccine schedule has increased. Unfortunately, it took something happening to our family to open our eyes.

A few hours after he was born, our son’s pediatrician injected him with a vaccine for Hepatitis B, which contained thimerosal. Our son’s speech developed slower than normal, but he was otherwise a bright and engaging child. Like all good parents, we continued to let our child receive more vaccinations whenever our pediatrician said he was supposed to get them. What else were we supposed to do?

When he was a little over four-years-old, the Little Rankster received seven vaccines in one day. Overnight, he stopped making eye contact, all of his developing speech disappeared, and he lost control over his emotions.

Our son was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. We were told to put him on Ritalin, get him into a special school, and to start searching for an institution that would almost certainly be needed. Instead, we looked for the reasons our son regressed. It was then that we learned of the growing controversy and the possibility that vaccines or their components might play a role in triggering ASD. Our response to all of this was to try undoing some of the damage vaccinations did.

Almost immediately after commencing biomedical interventions, we started seeing remarkable improvements, and we continue to see that. The Little Rankster has progressed far more than multiple “experts” told us he would. He functions quite well in a mainstream academic environment, sings in the school chorus, and this past year was elected by his classmates to serve on the student council. We can’t say he’s completely “cured,” but he’s a lot closer than we were told he could ever be.

Yet the whole time we have followed this path, the mainstream doctors who saw our son told us that everything we were doing was quackery and unproven, because there were no double-blind placebo studies. The fact that our son has progressed remarkably, and is well on the road to a meaningful recovery, has impressed few of those mainstream physicians. Truly, there are none so double blind as those who will not see.

Those same doctors who told us we were following a false path, also told us that vaccines could not have played any role in triggering our son’s ASD. How could they be so sure? Did they make detailed studies of the science themselves? Well no, but they could assure us that public-health officials have studies the problem extensively, and have proved there is no connection. Ah yes, let’s just trust the public-health establishment ⎯ an unholy alliance between government regulators and the institutions they’re supposed to be regulating, and the 14 studies they keep citing to reassure us that our concerns are unfounded.

The problem is that nobody has yet asked the really hard questions. The science is far from settled, and the more the public-health establishment keeps protesting that it is settled, the more we all have to wonder why they aren’t interested in asking those hard questions.

Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of the National Institutes of Health, is one of the rare administrators who found a life outside of the industry. She is a vaccine advocate, who nevertheless believes that the issue is far from resolved. Why did she have to wait until after she left the NIH before acknowledging doubt in the safety of vaccines for particular individuals, as opposed to the general population?

The vaccine schedule is the sacred cow of public health. The protectiveness shown by so many comes from two different sources. For one group, it is purely a matter of profit; there’s too much money to be made on vaccines. The profit margin per dose may not be as high as some pharmaceutical products, but then again, there is no other product that is virtually mandatory for every child who will attend public school. The other group of protectors are those who might realize there is some danger, but act on the misguided belief that collateral damage is acceptable for the protection of a larger number of the population.

One-size-fits-all approaches to health care, though, are more than just bad medicine for individual patients; they represent a morally bankrupt policy. No child should be sacrificed for a hypothetical “greater good.”

It is past time for our public health establishment to ask difficult questions about the official vaccination schedule and the harm that might be resulting. Until those questions are asked, the regulators and regulated are not deserving of any credibility. In the meantime, all parents should have the right to make informed medical choices that are right for their particular situations.

The idea of a religious exemption recognized by some states is wrong not just because it encourages even atheist parents to claim religious views. It is wrong because it robs parents of the right to weigh the potential benefits against known risks with regard to each vaccine on the schedule.

As Americans, we deserve the right to make informed decisions regarding each medical procedure our children may undergo. That includes vaccinations. And that’s why we’ll be at the American Rally for Personal Rights. We owe it to our son, and we owe it to the grandchildren we will someday have.

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