|Vaccination Liberation - Information|
NATIONAL VACCINE INFORMATION CENTER SAYS IOM PLAYED
POLITICS IN REPORT ON AUTISM AND VACCINES
Washington, D.C. - The nation's largest and oldest parent-led vaccine safety organization is charging that today's report on autism and vaccines issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) seriously jeopardizes the credibility of IOM to make an objective scientific analysis of vaccine risks. Calling the report a case of "political immunology," NVIC is also releasing a letter written by NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher to the National Academy of Sciences on December 18, 2000 expressing concern about the ideological and professional conflicts of interest of members of the Committee.
"This report is a case of political immunology masquerading as real science. With it, the Institute of Medicine takes a step toward weakening its reputation as an independent body capable of making an objective scientific analysis of complex medical risk issues which are influenced by government policy and industry profits," said Fisher.
In her 2000 letter to IOM, Fisher pointed out that, unlike the 1991 and 1994 reports issued by the Institute under a congressional mandate from the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, the current Immunization Safety Review Committee was assembled at the request of and funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), specifically the Center's for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). DHHS is responsible for the research, development, regulation, policymaking and promotion of mass use of vaccines. At the time, she questioned whether the Committee could remain objective when assessing vaccine risk issues which affect entrenched public health policy due to the fact that (1) the CDC and NIH were directing and funding the Committee's work; and (2) Committee members had a public health policy background and were receiving NIH research grants or were employed by universities receiving NIH, CDC and vaccine industry research ! grants.
"For this Committee to reject emerging biological mechanism evidence of a causal relationship between vaccines and brain damage leading to autism in favor of flawed epidemiological studies primarily using old medical records is tragic. For this Committee to basically give the green light to government and industry to eliminate autism from cost benefit analyses of thimerosal risks is beyond belief because it could pave the way for mercury to remain in vaccines here and around the world. Failing to consider the fact that DPT and MMR vaccine induced brain inflammation can lead to brain damage in some children, including autism, is just one example of how simplistic and superficial this analysis of the relationship between vaccines and autism is. When the real science comes out demonstrating that vaccines can cause autism in genetically susceptible children, this Committee's conclusions will be meaningless," said Fisher.
NVIC has been calling for independent, non-governmental, non-industry research into the genetic and other biological high risk factors of vaccine associated brain and immune system dysfunction, including autism, for the past two decades. Today's IOM report discouraged further research into vaccine-associated autism. NVIC also supports removing vaccine risk research and monitoring from the CDC and NIH because of conflicts of interest.
Press Release |
For Immediate Release:
May 18, 2004
IOM AND CDC COVER-UP: HOW FAR WILL THEY GO TO PROTECT TOXIC VACCINES?
RIDDLED WITH CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE RELEASES REPORT DERIVED FROM FLAWED DATA, SAYS NATIONAL AUTISM ASSOCIATIONWashington, DC- A report released today has parents and researchers shocked at how far the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will go to protect the reputation of the vaccination program. After CDC-funded hearings were held in front of an IOM panel on February 9th regarding the connection between vaccines and autism, IOM released its decision today by stating there is no connection, despite strong clinical evidence from accredited doctors and researchers that suggests otherwise.
To reach their decision, the IOM relied heavily upon CDC's Vaccine Safety Database (VSD) study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in November, 2003. Many critics have come forward questioning its validity. The study's author, Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, works for a leading vaccine manufacturer. He also authored the first CDC VSD study in 2000, obtained through FOIA, which found a statistically significant link between thimerosal containing vaccines and thimerosal but the study was not released to the public.
The National Autism Association (NAA), supporting families and physicians looking for effective treatments for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, says the report proves the IOM has not been able to divest itself from vaccine policies. And tragically, in doing so, they have failed society by their blindness to the issue at hand. "It appears the IOM's admitted fear of an undermined vaccination program has led to this decision, not scientific evidence," says Lori McIlwain, Executive Director of the National Autism Association.
NAA states they are for safe vaccines and stand by the clinical evidence that was presented to the IOM from highly accredited researchers, along with medical records of affected children. "Thousands of parents have seen the regression of skills in their children following thimerosal-containing vaccines," says Jo Pike President of the National Autism Association. "Many of these same children are progressing rapidly with biomedical interventions addressing mercury poisoning. The cause and effect should not be ignored," she says.
In their report, the IOM panel dismissed strong clinical and epidemiological evidence presented during the hearings. These studies include:
Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier presented epidemiological evidence that children who received thimerosal-containing vaccines were six times more likely to have autism than regular children.
Mady Hornig, MD, showed mice that had been given thimerosal-containing vaccines and subsequently developed harmful repetitive behaviors similar to those of autism.
David Baskin, MD, showed the neurotoxic affects of ethylmercury and how such damage can lead to apoptosis of cells.
Jeff Bradsteet, MD, showed that autistic children had six times more mercury in their bodies than age and vaccine-matched controls.
Boyd Haley, MD, showed that autistic children have less mercury in their hair than controls hypothesizing that autistic children can not detoxify as easily as regular children.
"The IOM took over 10 years to acknowledge Gulf War Syndrome and over 20 years to acknowledge Agent Orange poisoning," says Laura Bono, NAA Chairman. "We are asking the IOM to affirm the mass poisoning of thousands of children through mercury in their vaccines. We are confident that the truth will eventually come out and we will not be deterred until it does."
For more information, visit www.NationalAutism.org.
Date: May 18, 2004|
For Immediate Release:
The IOM's final rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal and autism flies in the face of both hard science and common sense. More hard science is still emerging linking the connection between the MMR shot and thimerosal containing vaccines with the subseuent development of autism but was purposely and prematurely avoided when the IOM came out with their statement this morning. The IOM's rejection of a causal relationship between the MMR shot and autism flies in the face of both replicated science and experience. One such experience is that of young boy who had never shown signs of autism, but within 10 minutes of an MMR vaccine, had a 105 degree fever and commenced 10-hours of high-pitched screaming, only to regress into severe autism the following day.
What we are about to say is not a "personal" attack on any of the persons or groups who have worked extremely and laudably hard to protect children from the ravages of thimerosal.
We understand that thimerosal was a "foot-in-the-door," having the largest body of concrete science that was likely to be accepted by persons in the mainstream media and those who work in the healthcare field. We understand that once some people see a "goof" with thimerosal, maybe they will be wary and look into other vaccines; so we understand that this can be used as one tool to help warn people. We understand that the majority of the public is basically brainwashed from all or most directions, and that we are up against quite a bit and could be assailed by them, too. But we still don't think we ever should IMPLY or let it possibly be INFERRED that thimerosal is, was, or ever will be the ONLY problem. AIDS has not a thing to do with thimerosal. Birth control substances, SV-40.... Who knows what's next? (Actually, maybe WHO does know what's next.) We don't want to tell anyone, "We told you so." We want to warn people that there is a bigger picture - a need to see the "forest" and not just the individual trees.
There was always a danger inherent in a thimerosal-only emphasis to the vaccine issue, and the situation that may now be presented by the IOM report illustrates that. If we tell people to just ask for thimerosal-free vaccines or that safe vaccines will be available once the thimerosal is out (or that ANY vaccine can be deemed to be SAFE), we silently imply that, basically, the CDC, the FDA, the WHO, the IOM, and the pharmaceutical industry, etc., can be trusted to not practice either human error, negligence, self-protectionism, willful endangerment, or some other agenda. Is this what we ourselves have found to be the case? Is this what people in Africa or New York City have found to be the case? Is this what people in the Phillipines have found to be the case? We also imply that thimerosal is the only problem, which we know it is not.
Our associations, Vaccination Information And Liberation (V.I.A.L.) and The Autism Autoimmunity Project (TAAP), have a responsibility to protect our children and future generations. We also want to protect both children and adults from the Russian Roulette of vaccines. The line is now drawn in the sand. There is no room left for compromise. If we compromise the truth, we risk misleading innocent people who may then be seriously harmed. The agencies in Washington have proven that they will not "play ball" with us no matter how much hard science we present to them, as evidenced by the situation with thimerosal. The self-protectionism and/or collusion within/among government entities, as influenced also by pharmaceutical interests, will likely never allow the admission that anything else could have been, or could in the future be, harmful about vaccines. It is also noteworthy that pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures are used to address symptoms of diseases and conditions that consumers are now associating with vaccinations. With over 200 additional vaccines in the planning stages, it is time to wake up the rest of the people and put an end to this insanity -- before this pharmaceutically-induced insanity is so pervasive, that the people will be unable to be awakened.
To get involved with the growing grassroots movement to warn communities nationwide about the dangers inherent in all vaccines, contact Vaccination Information And Liberation at
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
CONTACT: Joe Giganti, 703-928-9695
Sensible Action for Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders
SafeMinds Outraged That IOM Report Fails American Public
Washington, D.C.— SafeMinds—America's leading scientific organization investigating the risks that mercury-containing medical products pose to our children—issued the following statements in response to the release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Vaccine Safety Committee report on the link between mercury-containing vaccines and autism.
"The IOM has not only compromised their integrity and independence, but also failed the American public, especially mercury-injured children with autism, by towing the CDC, FDA, vaccine industry line. This committee and its report clearly chose to ignore groundbreaking scientific research on the mercury-autism link, and instead the IOM has issued a flawed, incomplete report that continues to put America's children at risk.
"The problem with this report begins with its violation of nearly every tenet of medical science. Respected researchers everywhere do not support the IOM belief that proof can be solely found in epidemiology. Yet, the IOM wants the public to buy into the absurd belief that this report, bought and paid for by the CDC, is complete, independent and trustworthy. Since the committee is disbanding following this report they will not have to answer later for their failures today.
"This is the classic bait and switch scheme. The IOM calls hard scientific evidence 'theoretical' and theoretical science hard. This report is a failure by any acceptable scientific standard. By utilizing a series of proven flawed studies as your foundation for another report is not science, it's irresponsible. Keeping America's children at risk so as not to rock the boat is unconscionable.
"SafeMinds is pro-vaccine, as long as every available scientific resource has been used to reasonably guarantee its safety. Saying more clinical evidence is needed, then not supporting the funding of such research is nothing more than Washington double-speak shrouded under the guise of science. The IOM has served neither science nor the American public well here today."
"That these groups want the public at large to trust this report as objective, scientific fact is an absolute abuse of the trust so many Americans put into the IOM and the government's health services to protect our families. From the inception of the IOM's involvement in this matter, even government officials openly questioned their ability to truly be free of the we-must-vaccinate-at-any-cost cartel's influence, and this report has left little doubt that the answer is no. This is why Congress must act now to protect our children and pass HR.4169 the Mercury-Free Vaccines Act of 2004.
"You cannot use science as cover for protectionism of vaccine policy, policy makers' reputations and the vaccine industry. Another flawed report—government issued or otherwise—will not stop SafeMinds from continuing its mission to foster science and educate the public."
SafeMinds will post a full analysis of this IOM report on its website (www.SafeMinds.org) in the very near future.
This is the I.O.M. Press Release-- Tax dollars at work:|
Date: May 18, 2004
Contacts: Christine Stencel, Media Relations Officer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON -- Based on a thorough review of clinical and epidemiological studies, neither the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal nor the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine are associated with autism, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
Furthermore, the hypotheses regarding how the MMR vaccine and thimerosal could trigger autism lack supporting evidence and are theoretical only.
Further research to find the cause of autism should be directed toward other lines of inquiry that are supported by current knowledge and evidence and offer more promise for providing an answer, said the committee that wrote the report.
"The overwhelming evidence from several well-designed studies indicates that childhood vaccines are not associated with autism," said committee chair Marie McCormick, Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. "We strongly support ongoing research to discover the cause or causes of this devastating disorder. Resources would be used most effectively if they were directed toward those avenues of inquiry that offer the greatest promise for answers. Without supporting evidence, the vaccine hypothesis does not hold such promise."
The report updates two earlier IOM reports, published in 2001, on possible links between autism and the MMR vaccine and thimerosal. At that time, the committee determined that the evidence did not show an association between the MMR vaccine and autism, but there was not enough evidence to determine whether thimerosal was associated with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. Given that mercury is known to have a toxic effect on the nervous system and that prenatal exposures to another form of mercury have been shown to adversely affect early childhood development, the committee concluded in 2001 that it was possible to hypothesize that thimerosal might trigger neurodevelopmental problems. The committee revisited these issues because several studies exploring the epidemiology and biological mechanisms of possible links between vaccines and autism have been undertaken during the past three years.
The committee based its latest conclusions and recommendations on a careful review of the literature it had assessed to develop its previous reports; subsequent studies; and other information provided by researchers, parents, and others. Epidemiological studies that looked at autism rates and exposures to vaccines carried the most weight in the committee's assessment of causality, but it considered other kinds of studies as well.
Five large epidemiological studies conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden since 2001 consistently provided evidence that there is no association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. Similarly, 14 large epidemiological studies consistently showed no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. The committee also reviewed five studies that reported links between thimerosal and autism and two that indicated a connection between the MMR vaccine and the disorder. However, limitations in how these studies were conducted and how the data were analyzed led the committee to conclude that they did not provide evidence supporting an association between vaccines and autism.
The committee also reviewed evidence related to possible biological mechanisms by which immunizations might trigger autism. For example, it has been hypothesized that the measles virus in the MMR vaccine might lodge in the intestines and trigger the release of toxins that lead to autism.
Another hypothesis suggests that the MMR vaccine might stimulate the release of immune factors that damage the central nervous system, resulting in autism. It also has been suggested that thimerosal may interfere with biochemical systems in the brain, leading to the disorder.
However, no evidence has yet been found that the immune system or its activation play a direct role in causing autism, the report notes. Autism also has never been documented as a consequence of exposure to high doses of mercury. While the committee agreed that the studies exploring these hypotheses raise interesting questions, they do not address the specifics of how autism could result. Therefore, evidence for any biological mechanism linking vaccines with autism can only be considered theoretical.
Autism is not a single condition, but rather a complex set of severe developmental disorders -- also referred to as autistic spectrum disorders -- characterized by sustained impairments in social interaction and communication abilities, as well as restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. It is unclear how many cases of autism there are, but two reviews of published studies put the prevalence at one case for every 1,000 children. While some information suggests that autism rates may be rising, it is not clear whether the observed increase is real or due to factors such as heightened awareness of the disorder or the use of a broader diagnostic definition.
Thimerosal is an organic mercury compound that is still used as a preservative in some adult vaccines. It began to be removed from vaccines for children in 1999, and as of mid-2000, vaccines that are recommended for universal use in infants and young children are available in forms that have no or only trace amounts of thimerosal.
This study is the eighth and final in a series on vaccine safety sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Institute of Medicine is a private, nonprofit institution that provides health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences.
A committee roster follows.
Pre-publication copies of Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
[ This news release and report are available at http://national-academies.org ]
INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE
Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Marie C. McCormick, M.D., Sc.D. (chair)
May 18, 2004
Opening Statement by Marie C. McCormick, M.D., Sc.D.Sumner and Esther Feldberg, Professors of Maternal and Child Health
Harvard School of Public Health and Chair, Committee on Immunization Safety Review
Good afternoon. On behalf of the Institute of Medicine and the entire committee, I would like to welcome reporters and guests to the release of our report, Vaccines and Autism. I am joined by fellow committee member Steven Goodman.
The Committee on Immunization Safety Review was established in January 2001 in response to a request from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, both of which recognized the need for an independent group of scientists to address growing concerns about vaccine safety in a timely and objective manner. The committee consists of 13 members with expertise in a variety of relevant public health and medical disciplines.
Since its inception, the committee has issued seven reports. In this eighth and final report, we were asked to revisit concerns about vaccines and autism, specifically whether the vaccine preservative thimerosal or the measles-mumps-rubella -- or MMR -- vaccine are causally related to autism.
The current report follows up two reports examining the role of vaccines in autism that the committee issued in 2001. One reviewed the hypothesized causal association between the MMR vaccine and autism, which the committee rejected based on the evidence at the time. The second report reviewed the hypothesized link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and a broad range of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. The committee concluded that the evidence available at the time was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders.
The report we are releasing today incorporates new epidemiological evidence and studies of biological mechanisms related to vaccines and autism that have emerged since the earlier reports. The committee wishes to emphasize that this report focuses only on autism and does not address other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Scientists generally agree that most cases of autism likely result from events in the prenatal period or shortly after birth. But there are concerns about the MMR vaccine because autistic symptoms typically do not emerge until the child's second year of life, which is about the same time that the MMR vaccine is first administered. In addition, some point to the apparent increase in the number of reported cases of autism, and question whether this rise may be due, in part, to widespread use of the MMR vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines.
Thimerosal has been used as a preservative to prevent bacterial contamination in multidose vials of several childhood and adult vaccines.
The active ingredient in thimerosal is ethylmercury, a close chemical relative of methylmercury. Many forms of mercury are known to damage the nervous system in high doses, although ethylmercury has been studied less than other forms of mercury. In 1999 thimerosal began to be removed from vaccines. This action was taken as a precaution to decrease mercury exposures, despite the absence of data at that time to suggest that thimerosal was in fact dangerous at the levels present in vaccines. As of mid-2000, all childhood vaccines recommended for universal use were available free of thimerosal as a preservative.
On the issue of whether thimerosal is associated with autism, epidemiological studies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden that have been published since our earlier study provided significant evidence that there is no association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. Based on these studies, the committee concluded that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.
To assess whether the MMR vaccine is associated with autism, the committee looked at the large number of epidemiological studies that have examined this issue. Let me note that the MMR vaccine does not contain and has never contained thimerosal. Fourteen large, well-designed epidemiological studies consistently showed no association between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Based on this body of evidence, the committee saw no reason to change its 2001 conclusion that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism.
The committee also reviewed the potential biological mechanisms that have been put forth as possible explanations for how vaccines might cause autism. These hypothesized mechanisms include:
-- The release of chemicals into the brain due to disruption of intestinal function by the MMR vaccine.
-- Triggering of abnormalities in the immune system that are indicative of damage to the central nervous system induced by vaccines.
-- Increased accumulation of mercury and decreased excretion of the element from the brains of a subgroup of children.
-- The effects of thimerosal on a variety of biochemical pathways.
The evidence offered for these various hypotheses includes data from in vitro experimental systems, clinical observations, and analogies between rodent behavior and human behavior. While the laboratory observations of the toxic effects of mercury are important in understanding how this metal may cause damage, these observations do not explain how specific exposures in a rapidly developing infant affect certain tissues but not others where these mechanisms are also active. The laboratory studies also have not
shown how these effects lead to autism. The committee does not dispute that mercury-containing compounds, including thimerosal, can be very damaging to the nervous system. The question is whether these damaging effects are related to the development of autism.
While the committee agreed that the studies raise interesting questions, they do not address the specifics of how these mechanisms result in the symptoms of autism. It is difficult to establish a link between vaccine components and this disorder because scientific understanding about the causes of autism is only in an early stage. Autism is not a single condition but rather a complex set of disorders. It is possible, and perhaps even likely, that autism will be found to have many different causes. It is possible that some people with autism also have abnormal immune reactions, or abnormalities in the way they metabolize mercury. But it is also possible that vaccination does not cause these abnormalities, and likewise that the abnormalities do not lead to autism.
In the absence of experimental or human evidence that either the MMR vaccine or vaccines containing thimerosal affect metabolic, developmental, immune, or other physiological or molecular mechanisms that are causally related to the development of autism, the committee concludes that the hypotheses generated to date are theoretical only.
The committee recommends a public health response that fully supports an array of vaccine safety activities. While the committee strongly supports research that focuses on achieving a better understanding of autism, we recommend that future research be directed toward other lines of inquiry that are supported by current knowledge and evidence, and that offer more promise for finding an answer. Given the current evidence, the vaccine hypothesis doesn't offer that promise.
The committee also believes that communication with the public about vaccine safety issues needs to be improved. To that end, we recommend developing programs to increase public participation in research on vaccine safety and in policy decisions about the issue. Efforts are also needed to enhance the skills and willingness of scientists and government officials to engage in constructive dialogue with the public about research findings and their policy implications.
This concludes my opening statement. My colleague Steven Goodman and I will now take your questions. We anticipate that there will be a lot of questions, and would like to get to as many as possible during the time remaining in this hour, so we urge you to state your questions as succinctly as possible. Thank you.
The report can be viewed at:
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