[NVIC 17 June, 2006] VAERS Data: Fewer Autism Reports?
E-NEWS FROM THE NATIONAL VACCINE INFORMATION CENTER
Vienna, Virginia http://www.nvic.org
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UNITED WAY/COMBINED FEDERAL CAMPAIGN
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"Protecting the health and informed consent rights of children since 1982."
BL Fisher Note:
Interpretation of VAERS data used to confirm or deny that thimerosal
preservatives in vaccines is the sole cause of the autism epidemic in the
U.S. should be undertaken and viewed with caution. Definitive conclusions
about the mercury poisoning hypothesis cannot be made until developmental
disability data from the State of California and other states, as well as
the US Department of Education, is compiled for children born after 2003 and
compared with those born before 2003 when DPT/DtaP, HIB and hepatitis B
vaccines contained large amounts of thimerosal..
The federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) was centralized
and reorganized under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.
Although the law mandated that physicians report serious adverse events
following vaccination to VAERS, there are no penalties for not reporting and
it is thought that fewer than 10 percent of all vaccine providers actually
report. VAERS, however, also accepts reports from parents. Since VAERS
became operational in 1988, the National Vaccine Information Center has
assisted many parents of vaccine injured children in making reports to VAERS
when their doctors refused to report.
Between 1999 and 2002, there was a large amount of national publicity
about the possibility that vaccines can cause autism either after exposure
to live MMR vaccine or to significant amounts of mercury preservatives in
vaccines. In 1999, statistics coming out of the state of California
confirmed the autism "epidemic" and in 2000, a vaccine injured autistic
child (Russell Rollens) was featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine. In
addition, a series of well publicized congressional hearings were held
between 1999 and 2002 which explored the links between autism and
This spotlight on the autism-vaccine connection plus coinciding publicity
about VAERS and the existence of a federal vaccine injury compensation may
well have caused an increase in reports to VAERS of neurodevelopmental
delays following vaccination. The majority of the more than 5,000 vaccine
associated autism cases were filed in the Vaccine Injury Compensation
Program (VICP) between 2000 and 2002, indicating an increased public
awareness of the autism-vaccine connection.
Between 2003 and 2005, a series of epidemiological studies conducted in
Europe and reports issued by the Institute of Medicine in the U.S. were
published and publicized. These studies and reports flatly dismissed a
causal relationship between vaccination and autism or other
neurodevelopmental delays. This negative publicity arguing against a
vaccine-autism connection would have had a chilling effect on physician
voluntary reporting of vaccine-associated neurodevelopmental delays to VAERS
and would have discouraged parent reporting.
Mercury is a known neurotoxin and does not belong in vaccines or any
other product given to humans, especially children. However, it is dangerous
to assume that mercury is the only component of vaccines responsible for the
autism epidemic or that mercury toxicity is the only biological mechanism
involved in vaccine-induced chronic brain and immune system dysfunction.
It may be too early to tell how much of a role mercury preservatives in
vaccines have had on the incidence of vaccine-induced autism and other
neuroimmune disorders in children. However, it is not too early to demand
that all known neurotoxins, including mercury, be removed from vaccines.
ANALYSIS OF VAERS DATA AND NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS
Medical Science Monitor 2006 May 29;12(6):CR231-239 [Epub ahead of print]
An assessment of downward trends in neurodevelopmental disorders in the
United States following removal of thimerosal from childhood vaccines.
Full text in PDF:
Geier DA, Geier MR.
Graduate Student, Department of Biochemistry, George Washington University,
Washington, DC, U.S.A.
Background: The US is in the midst of an epidemic of neurodevelopmental
disorders (NDs). Thimerosal is an ethylmercury-containing compound added to
some childhood vaccines. Several previous epidemiological studies conducted
in the US have associated Thimerosal-containing vaccine (TCV) administration
Material/Methods: An ecological study was undertaken to evaluate
NDs reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from 1991
through 2004 by date of receipt and by date of vaccine administration. The
NDs examined included autism, mental retardation, and speech disorders.
Statistical trend analysis was employed to evaluate the effects of removal
of Thimerosal on the proportion of NDs reported to VAERS.
Results: There was a peak in the proportion of ND reports received by VAERS
in 2001-2002 and in
the proportion of ND reports by date of vaccine administration in 1998.
There were significant reductions in the proportion of NDs reported to VAERS
as Thimerosal was begun to be removed from childhood vaccines in the US from
Conclusions: The present study provides the first
epidemiological evidence showing that as Thimerosal was removed from
childhood vaccines, the number of NDs has decreased in the US. The analysis
techniques utilized attempted to minimize chance or bias/confounding.
Additional research should be conducted to further evaluate the relationship
between TCVs and NDs. This is especially true because the handling of
vaccine safety data from the National Immunization Program of the CDC has
been called into question by the Institute of Medicine of the National
Academy of Sciences in 2005.
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