by Barbara Loe Fisher
It is a short 15 second public service message on the CBS Jumbotron on Times Square in New York City that encourages everyone to make informed vaccine choices. The message is sponsored by the nonprofit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center, and made possible by a donation from Mercola.com. It has been shown hourly since March 22, 2011 alongside much bigger ads for a variety of products marketed by large corporations.1
AAP Strong Arms CBS
On April 13, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sent a letter to CBS containing misinformation about NVIC in an attempt to strong arm the network into taking the vaccine education message down before it was scheduled to end on April 28. The AAP letter was provided to bloggers,2 , 3 who orchestrated an online smear campaign against NVIC and created a petition drive to increase pressure on CBS. Mainstream media outlets like The Guardian in Great Britain republished the AAP's attack and added more disinformation.4
AAP: Follow the Money
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a trade association with 60,000 pediatrician members that publishes guidelines for giving vaccines to children. In recent years, the public has learned that the AAP has been taking lots of money from vaccine manufacturers and refusing to disclose to the media just how much money it gets from Big Pharma.5
In the early 1980's, the AAP lobbied Congress to give pediatricians and drug companies liability protection from vaccine injury lawsuits while parents of DPT vaccine injured children worked hard to get vaccine safety and informed consent provisions in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986,6 which has already paid out more than 2 billion dollars in federal compensation to children and adults harmed by vaccines.7 Today, when a pediatrician continues to vaccinate a child after the child has experienced vaccine reactions that get worse after each round of shots, that pediatrician is not held liable in a civil court of law when the child ends up brain damaged or dead because of the pediatrician's negligence.
AAP: Censoring Vaccine Information
This, together with the fact that in February 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court gave drug companies a bigger shield8 from vaccine injury lawsuits – even if the company could have made a safer vaccine – means that the only power Americans have left to protect ourselves from vaccine injury is to arm ourselves with information and defend the legal right to make vaccine choices.9 But, clearly, that is getting harder to do when doctors and organizations paid by the pharmaceutical industry are trying to censor vaccine information and block all public conversation about vaccination, while lobbying to take away the human right to informed consent to medical risking taking.10 , 11 , 12 , 13
Dr. Paul Offit: Follow the Money
One of those doctors paid a lot of money by Big Pharma is Dr. Paul Offit.14 He creates new vaccines and has made a career out of denying vaccine risks and defaming people,15 , 16 , 17 , 18 who disagree with his unscientific opinions like his cavalier insistence that it would be safe to give a child 10,000 vaccines at once.19 He delights in spreading misinformation about parents of vaccine injured children,20 doctors helping those children,21 and journalists trying to cover both sides of the vaccine safety debate.
Offit spent a large part of his new book demonizing me and NVIC with the half witted, zealous obsession of a stalker.22 Just this week, a newspaper in Orange County, CA published a retraction23 for printing Offit's defamatory accusation that veteran CBS journalist, Sharyl Attkisson, lied when she accurately reported in 2008 that Offit failed to inform CBS about exactly how much money he and his employer, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, are paid by Merck. Merck is the manufacturer and marketer of Vioxx and a whole slew of vaccines, including Offit's rotavirus vaccine and Gardasil, hepatitis B, chicken pox, shingles and MMR vaccines.24
Doctors Demanding We Must Trust
Why should we care about influential doctors, who take big money from Big Pharma, and then spend a lot of their time viciously attacking anyone daring to suggest that vaccines and vaccine policies could be made safer?
We should care because doctors don't just ask but, increasingly, demand that we trust them with our health and the health of our children. Many pediatricians, who are now giving children six dozen doses of 16 vaccines starting on the day of birth,25 throw parents out of their office if they dare to ask too many questions about vaccination or ask for fewer vaccines to be given at once.26 , 27 , 28 While the AAP is promoting the idea that every child must live in a "family-centered medical home" so pediatricians can "oversee" children's health,29 including giving children three times as many vaccinations as children got three decades ago, there are hundreds of new vaccines in the research pipeline.30 , 31
New Vaccines, New Mandates, Big Profits
How many of these hundreds of new vaccines will be fast tracked by the FDA32 , 33 and mandated for children as soon as they are licensed?34 Probably most of them, because that is how drug companies with no liability make big profits – by making sure that every vaccine they make and sell is legally required to be used by every child. And adults are not exempt from the vaccine mandate creep either, just ask American health care workers, who are being fired if they don't get an annual flu shot,35 as well as lots of other vaccines.
Doctors Should Partner With Parents to Prevent Vaccine Reactions
But what about the children, for whom the risks of vaccination are 100 percent? What about them? Aren't their lives worth saving, too?
Shouldn't organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics be doing everything they can to teach their members about how to be partners with parents in preventing vaccine reactions instead of throwing families out of their offices and attacking organizations like NVIC representing families, whose loved ones have suffered life-altering vaccine reactions?
Thirty years ago, when I took my healthy, precocious two and a half year old son into his pediatrician for his fourth DPT shot, I was told nothing about how to recognize a vaccine reaction. He had experienced an extremely severe local reaction after his third DPT shot but I did not understand the significance of that and neither did my pediatrician. So another DPT shot was given and I watched my child suffer a convulsion, collapse, and experience many hours of unconsciousness shortly after his vaccination and did not realize he was experiencing a brain inflammation that would change his life and mine forever.
Brain Inflammation: From Infections and Vaccines
Brain inflammation36 is one of the most feared complications of vaccination and has been since the first vaccines – smallpox and rabies vaccines - were created and given to humans. 37 , 38 Doctors have known for more than a century that brain inflammation,39 whether it is caused by an infection or a vaccination,40 , 41 , 42 can cause different kinds of permanent brain dysfunction that ranges from multiple learning disabilities to medication resistant seizure disorders, mental retardation43 and, yes, sometimes can result in a constellation of brain dysfunction symptoms that are labeled by doctors as "autism." 44 , 45
In the book, DPT: A Shot in the Dark, published a quarter century ago, there are many case histories of children, whose pediatricians did not tell mothers about how to recognize the symptoms of vaccine reactions and those children were revaccinated over and over again until they were permanently brain damaged or died.46 A number of these children came from families with strong medical histories of allergy and autoimmunity, like my family,47 which the pediatricians dismissed as unimportant.
Writing Off Vaccine Reaction Symptoms Is Dangerous
Too often doctors today – just like doctors back in the 1980's – are not telling parents about what to look for after vaccines are given. Too many pediatricians today are listening to the advice of Paul Offit48 , 49 and, instead of adhering to the precautionary principle, are dangerously writing off symptoms of vaccine reactions as a "coincidence" without having a clue about whether that is true for an individual child.
At the National Vaccine Information Center, where we have been collecting information on vaccine reactions since 1982, it is clear to us that more than 50 percent of all vaccine injuries and deaths could potentially be prevented if doctors and parents were educated about what a vaccine reaction looks like and if pediatricians were much more cautious about re-vaccinating children when a child gets sicker and sicker after each round of shots.50, 51 , 52
Learn How to Make Informed Vaccine Choices
Because your pediatrician may not tell you how to recognize a symptom of a vaccine reaction, you can download the brochure "If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions" from NVIC's website. It contains a list of vaccine reactions to look for like high pitched screaming and collapse/shock and seizures.53 At NVIC's website, you can also access vaccine product information published by the vaccine manufacturers and the FDA, as well as do your own research about vaccine reactions reported to the federal government.54 You can access a Vaccine Ingredient Calculator that educates you about vaccine components and how to make informed vaccine choices.55
And remember, if your child suffers symptoms of marked deterioration in physical, mental or emotional health after vaccination, you need to make sure your pediatrician writes down those symptoms in the child's permanent medical record.
One Size Does Not Fit All
America's children would be better served if the American Academy of Pediatrics leadership educated its membership about how to be intelligent, compassionate partners with parents in preventing vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths rather than write off symptoms of vaccine reactions as a "coincidence" and bully parents into submitting to one-size-fits-all vaccine policies that are not safe for every single child. People are not all the same and we do not all react the same way to pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines.56 Some children are genetically and biologically at higher risk for suffering life-altering vaccine reactions.57
Pretending that is not true is both intellectually dishonest and cruel. No child is expendable and no pediatrician should be encouraged to be a zealous implementer of state vaccine policy first instead of, first, doing no harm.
Click here to read NVIC's April 25, 2011 Businesswire press release.
Click here to read the April 18, 2011 Letter from Barbara Loe Fisher, President, National Vaccine Information Center, to O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Click here to read the April 18, 2011 Letter from Barbara Loe Fisher, President, NVIC, to Leslie Moonves, President, CBS.
- 1 NVIC. NVIC & Mercola.com on Times Square. NVIC Vaccine E-newsletter March 23, 2011.
- 2 Autism News Beat (an anonymous blogger). AAP asks CBS to pull anti-vaccine ad. April 13, 2011.
- 3 The Skeptical Teacher (aka anonymous blogger mattusmaximus). ALERT: Demand That CBS Not Air Outdoor Anti-Vaccine Ad! April 15, 2011.
- 4 Platt, M. Doctors demand the removal of anti-vaccine ad from Times Square. The Guardian (UK). April 18, 2011.
- 5 Lagorio C. How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders? CBS News. July 25, 2008.
- 6 NVIC. Federal Law – National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.
- 7 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Statistics Report (as of April 4, 2011).
- 8 Supreme Court of the United States. Russell Bruesewitz et al v. Wyeth et al. No. 09-152. Argued October 12, 2010 – Decided February 22, 2011.
- 9 Fisher BL. No Pharma Liability? No Vaccine Mandates. March 2, 2011.
- 10 AAP. State Government Affairs: State Legislation Report 2010. Childhood Immunization Challenges.
- 11 Friedman M. NJ Senate Bill would establish stricter rules on vaccination exemptions citing religious reasons. Star Ledger. March 15, 2011.
- 12 Fisher BL. Vaccines and Individual Rights. Wall Street Journal. January 27, 2007.
- 13 Fisher, BL. WA & NJ Families Stand Up for Vaccine Choices. NVIC Vaccine E-newsletter. March 23, 2011.
- 14 Fagone, J. Will This Doctor Hurt Your Baby? Philadelphia Magazine. March 27, 2009.
- 15 Handley JB. Columbia University Press and Dr. Paul Offit Sued for Autism's False Prophets. Age of Autism. February 10, 2009.
- 16 . Wallace A. An Epidemic of Fear: One Man's Battle Against the Anti-VaccineMovement. Wired. November 2009.
- 17 Barbara Loe Arthur (aka Barbara Loe Fisher), Plaintiff v. Paul A. Offit, M.D. et al, Defendants. Civil Action No. 01:09-cv-1398. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Plaintiff's Opposition to Motion to Dismiss filed Feb. 3, 2010 on behalf of plaintiff by Jonathan W. Emord with Andrea G. Ferrenz, Peter A. Arhangelsky, Christopher K. Niederhauser of Emord & Associates, Counsel for Plaintiff.
- 18 Orange County Register. CORRECTION re: August 4, 2008 article "Dr. Paul Offit Responds." April 18, 2011.
- 19 Kalb, C. Stomping Through a Medical Minefield. Newsweek Magazine. October 25, 2008.
- 20 Poling J. Letter re: Vaccines and Autism Revisited – The Hannah Poling Case. NEnglJMed 2008; 359:655-565. Aust 7, 2008.
- 21 Offit PA, Moser CA. The Problem with Dr. Bob's Alternate Vaccine Schedule. Pediatrics 2009; 123: e164-e169.
- 22 Offit P. Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All. Basic Books: 2011.
- 23 See Reference #18.
- 24 MerckVaccines.com
- 25 AAP. 2011 Immunization Schedules.
- 26 Cry for Vaccine Freedom Wall.NVIC.
- 27 Kotz D. Flexible Approach to Vaccination Comes Under Fire.U.S. News. December 29, 2008.
- 28 Flanaga-Klygis EA, Sharp E. Frader JE. Dismissing the Family Who Refuses Vaccines: A Study of Pediatrician Attitudes.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005; 159: 929-934.
- 29 AAP.Medical Home (National Center for Medical Home Implementation).
- 30 U.S. National Institutes of Health.Vaccine Clinical Trials.
- 31 Associated Press. Vaccines market gives pharmaceutical industry a boost. NJ.com. November 17, 2009.
- 32 NVIC. Merck's Gardasil Vaccine Not Proven Safe for Little Girls. NVIC Press Release: June 27, 2006.
- 33 Computer Sciences Corporation. Case Studies: Regulatory Affairs. Fast Tracking Vaccine Program.
- 34 Zimm A, Preston D. Merck Gets First U.S. Cancer Shot Mandate, From Texas (Update 3). Bloomberg News. February 20, 2007.
- 35 Fisher BL. Forcing Flu Shots on Healthcare Workers: Who Is Next? NVIC. September 10, 2010.
- 36 Merck Manual. Definition of Encephalitis (brain inflammation).
- 37 Altman LK. Smallpox Vaccine Transmission Raises Liability Issue. New York Times. December 16, 2002.
- 38 The Rockefeller University. The Birth of the Concept of Autoimmune Demyelinating Disease and Creation of An Animal Model to Test New Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis. The Rockefeller University Hospital.
- 39 News-Medical.Net. Brain inflammation is a sign of autism. Nov. 15, 2004.
- 40 Gold, R. Pertussis: The Disease & the Vaccine. Canadian Family Physician. Vol 32, January 1986, pp. 79-83.
- 41 Steinman L, Weiss A et al. Pertussis toxin is required for pertussis vaccine encephalopathy. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1985. December; 82(24) 8733-8736.
- 42 Hofstetter HH, Shive CL, Forsthuber TC. Pertussis Toxin Modulates the Immune Response to Neuroantigens Injected in Incomplete Freund's Adjuvant: Induction of Th1 Cells and Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis in the Presence of High Frequencies of Th2 Cells. The Journal of Immunology, 2002. 169: 117-125.
- 43 Stratton KR, Howe CJ, Johnston RB. DPT Vaccine and Chronic Nervous System Dysfunction: A New Analysis. Institute of Medicine: National Academy Press. 1994.
- 44 Ashwood P, Wills S, VandeWater J. The immune response in autism: a new frontier for autism research. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2006; 80: 1-15.
- 45 Fisher BL. Vaccines, Autism & Chronic Inflammation: The New Epidemic. NVIC. 2008.
- 46 Coulter HL, Fisher BL. DPT: A Shot in the Dark. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1985.
- 47 Fisher BL. Medical Science & Public Trust: The policy, ethics and law of vaccination in the 20th & 21st centuries. Presentation at the Vaccine Safety: Evaluating the Science Conference. January 3, 2011.
- 48 The Colbert Report. Interview with Paul Offit. February 1, 2011.
- 49 Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. Interview with Paul Offit. January 31, 2011.
- 50 International Memorial for Vaccine Victims. Hepatitis B Vaccine Reaction Report. NVIC.
- 51 Epilepsy.com. Online discussion about seizures after immunizations. April 2005.
- 52 NVIC. Gardasil & The Damage Done: Gabrielle's Gardasil Vaccine Reaction. December 2008.
- 53 NVIC. If You Vaccinate, Ask 8!
- 54 MedAlerts Vaccine Reaction Database.
- 55 Vaccine Ingredients Calculator.
- 56 National Center for Biotechnology Information. One Size Does Not Fit All.
- 57 PBS NewsHour. Autism Now. Six-Part Series (On Air April 18-25 and online)