Response to:  Autism and Vaccines , WSJ, Monday, February 16, 2004

Dear Editors:
To debate would mean that you would actually give the opportunity to
publish the other side of the autism and vaccine story, not just lambaste
parents as nasty terrorists and rumor-spreaders. The "small coterie" of
parents to which you credit loudly claiming thimerosal-containing vaccines
caused their child's autism is growing larger and larger by the second.
Perhaps that is why newspapers such as WSJ feel so threatened by us.
Instead of crafting another editorial to target parents of autistic
children as paranoid and senseless, why not actually "investigate" the
possibility that thousands of parents are right?  I'll answer that question
- because that would do harm to your precious advertising revenue and the
all-virtuous pharmaceutical companies.

I would agree with you on one point - lost in all this controversy has been
a little thing called science: Science that researches the facts about
thimerosal and its damage to babies' developing brains without regard to
what pharmaceutical companies the researcher is funded by; Science that
addresses the cause and effect of a thimerosal-containing vaccine instead
of dismissing blatant reactions as coincidental; and Science that isn't
controlled by which politician or stock portfolio it will damage.

Don't let the anger and hurt of these parents surprise you. Instead you
should ask yourself, why. Why is such a large group of parents so
passionate about this issue. Why would your first editorial spark such a
response. The answer is simple. Because the truth is maddening. Because to
blatantly deny the facts and ignore the voices of these parents is morally
and socially irresponsible.

As far as the sources of "honest" information go, I suggest choosing better
references. The Danish study to which you refer was flawed. Even a
layperson such as myself could browse the study and see that their
"unvaccinated" group actually contained vaccinated children. Did you review
this study before you referenced it as evidence? You couldn't possibly have
or you would have discovered this. Dr. Paul Offit would be the last
physician I would make reference to as an unbiased voice in the vaccine
debate. Dr. Offit's ties to the pharmaceutical companies are well
established and visible. And believe me, no parent will ever shut him up.
You state in your own article that Samuel Katz is the co-creator of the
measles vaccine. Please enlighten us as to how either of these two
physicians could present unbiased testimonial on the benefits of vaccines.

*You* may not know what causes autism, but I sure as heck do. I saw it with
my own eyes, to my own baby boy. I am one of the lucky ones though. I have
dedicated the past two years of my life making my son well and he is mostly
recovered from his autism, a/k/a mercury and tetanus poisoning. You talk
about a 3 month old baby that died of acute hepatitis B-induced liver
failure - I'm not a doctor but I can pretty much guarantee a HepB vaccine
at birth was not going to save that baby. HepB is obtained via unprotected
sex or IV drug use - both of which I'm sure that baby did not engage in. In
the rare circumstance it was contracted from a blood transfusion, that HepB
vaccine would have done no good. So you see, now you are the one using
scare tactics.

You speak of the "dangers" of the measles - what would you say in response
to the fact that both my daughter and I developed a serious case of the
measles - documented by physicians - from the MMR vaccine? Or that my
brother is completely deaf in one ear after developing the measles from his
vaccine. Oh wait, I know, you would group us in the "rare family whose
child is injured by vaccines." Have you read the Vaccine Injury Database?
You couldn't have or you would learn vaccine injuries are not so rare. If
doctors reported vaccine injuries the way they are supposed to, the whole
world would see just how "rare" they are not.

Modernize the VICP - is that what you call slipping in a rider at the last
minute in the Homeland Security Act that disallows lawsuits against
thimerosal-containing vaccine makers? If Senator Frist's intentions were
honorable, why not propose its own bill, in broad daylight? I can answer
that as well, because that would draw attention to the real facts about
thimerosal and autism. Facts the CDC itself kept secret after their own
confidential study of thimerosal in 2000 showed a positive correlation
between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, ADD, speech delays, and
other developmental disorders.

The only human toll in the thimerosal flap is the toll on the hundreds of
thousands of babies who will develop autism from a thimerosal-containing
vaccine and the devastation it causes their families. If you are really in
favor of open and honest inquiry - print both sides of this debate instead
of accusing parents of the same tactics you yourself are using. The only
thing I am intolerant of is media giants who use their position in society
to further squelch the truth and make themselves look like the victim. The
millions of children with autism, ADD, asthma, speech delays, and other
developmental disorders as a result of thimerosal-containing vaccines are
the real victims. I am all for public debate on this subject - bring it on!
But as I first said, to debate means to allow both sides a voice.

In the *real* interest of families struck with autism, it's important I
point out you are a little behind in your reporting. Research from the
CDC's own Vaccine Safety Datalink, unveiled at the Institute of Medicine
meeting last Monday, concluded children are 27 times more likely to develop
autism after exposure to three thimerosal-containing vaccines, than those
who receive thimerosal-free versions. The CDC's own secret reseach in 2000
shows a positive link. I think that justifies the furor and demonstrates a
credible enough link, wouldn't you?

And lastly, let's not forget the poor last, "few remaining" vaccine makers.
Considering 2/3 of the advertisements on tv and in magazines is for these
pharmaceutical companies nearly at risk of being bankrupted, I wouldn't be
too worried about this "small coterie" of parents. If it were me - I'd be
worried about the science.

Erica McPhee