Vaccine, search for truth continues

February 2009 turned out to be a month when vaccine science was put on trial in the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C., in mainstream media and on the internet, in the British Medical Journal and in vaccine safety research initiatives by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The month began with a Feb. 6 CBS-TV news report on new information released by NVIC on serious Gardasil risks, which was followed within 48 hours by a highly orchestrated and very well publicized transatlantic attack on MMR vaccine researcher Andrew Wakefield, M.D. in preparation for a Feb. 12 public announcement by the U.S. Court of Claims denying federal compensation to three children, who regressed into autism after MMR vaccination. The same day that three autistic children were denied federal compensation in the U.S., the British Medical Journal published a Cochrane Collaboration analysis revealing that influenza vaccine studies are more likely to be published in medical journals and rated highly if they are funded by pharmaceutical companies, even when the vaccine studies are of poor quality.

Finally, it is a hopeful sign that at the end of February a joint statement was signed by a diverse group of vaccine stakeholders who met in Salt Lake City Feb. 20-21, 2009 to discuss national vaccine safety research priorities. Assisted by expert facilitators from The Keystone Center, the CDC sponsored Vaccine Safety Writing Group included federal and state public health officials, pediatricians, infectious disease specialists, immunologists, vaccine developers, health policy analysts, child vaccine advocates and representatives from vaccine safety and autism groups including NVIC, SafeMinds and Autism Speaks.

The vaccine stakeholder group stated that the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) should “charge an expert panel with evaluating study designs for research on the impact of the standard schedule of vaccination on an array of health outcomes of significant public interest. This draft charge is responsive to issues raised at community meetings in Alabama, Oregon and Indiana as well as the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee request for collaboration with the National Vaccine Program Office.”

On March 16, 2009 from 9 to 5 p.m. at the Hubert Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C., the National Vaccine Advisory Committee will hold an open public meeting for citizens to discuss the government’s draft vaccine safety research agenda. To register to attend, contact Kirsten Vannice at: Kirsten.vannice@hhs.gov. To join the meeting via telephone or by webscast, go to this website.

SOURCE: National Vaccine Information Center

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