A cause célèbre for those claiming vaccines cause autism

1 Mar

If you participate in online discussions about autism and vaccines (and I’d advise you to spend your time more productively), you will often hear about how the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (the “Vaccine Court”) has compensated numerous cases of autism, the government just doesn’t admit it. These are often referred to as “secret” compensations, even though the decisions are in the public record. And, quite frankly, the families were not compensated for autism claims.

One family whose story has become a cause célèbre thanks to David Kirby is now the topic of a new Court decision. In this new decision, the court responds to the parents request to have past court documents redacted. They would like to stop being approached by members of the media.

Before we get to the new decision, consider Mr. Kirby’s story:

The parents, who did not want to be interviewed, specifically asserted that [child] “suffered a Vaccine Table Injury, namely, an encephalopathy” as a result of his MMR vaccination on December 19, 2003.” (“Table injuries” are known, compensable adverse reactions to immunizations.)

Alternatively, they claim that “as a cumulative result of his receipt of each and every vaccination between March 25, 2003 and February 22, 2005, [child] has suffered . . . neuroimmunologically mediated dysfunctions in the form of asthma and ASD.”

(child’s name redacted by me)

The parents didn’t want to be interviewed. They also presented two claims, one encephalopathy and one autism. Mr. Kirby focused on the autism claim, even though it wasn’t compensated. Mr. Kirby states:

Whether HHS agreed with [child]‘s parents that his vaccine-induced brain disease led to ASD is unknown. The concession document is under seal.

Actually, it was known. The proffer of an award was titled “Proffer on Award of Compensation; Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR); Table Injury; Encephalitis.”

The child was being compensated for a table injury: encephalitis. Within that document, it is clearly stated:

On June 9, 2011, respondent filed a supplemental report pursuant to Vaccine Rule 4(c) stating it was respondent’s view that Ryan suffered a Table injury under the Vaccine Act – namely, an encephalitis within five to fifteen days following receipt of the December 19, 2003 MMR vaccine, see 42 C.F.R. § 100.3(a)(III)(B), and that this case is appropriate for compensation under the terms of the Vaccine Program

Emphasis mine.

Even with this information showing the family were not compensating autism clearly in the public domain Mr. Kirby tells us it’s “unknown”. Then, true to Mr. Kirby’s style, he leads his readers to the evidence supporting the possibility that it was ASD while never coming right out and saying it.

Perhaps the feds were loath to concede yet another vaccine case involving autism. Four cases in the Autism Omnibus Proceedings were recently compensated. Three of those cases are marked with asterisks, indicating the government did not conclude that autism can be caused by vaccines. But the fourth autism case that was paid out in 2013 ([child]‘s case? We don’t know) has no such caveat.

Mr. Kirby was referring to the HRSA statistics page that lists vaccine court petitions filed and compensated. At the time Mr. Kirby wrote his piece, the statistics report did include autism cases. They no longer do, so you have to check archived pages to see what he’s referring to.

At the time of Mr. Kirby’s article, there appear to have been two cases where someone in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding did receive compensation (I don’t have reason to believe Mr. Kirby was in error, but the archived page doesn’t show four cases). Both of those cases had asterisks.

*May include case(s) that were originally filed and processed as an OAP cases but in which the final adjudication does not include a finding of vaccine-related autism

Mr. Kirby concluded with:

Meanwhile, as HHS says it “has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination,” it is still underwriting autism treatments such as ABA for children in its vaccine-injury program.

Which basically reads as “the government is making a distinction without a difference”. I.e. the reader comes away with the impression that the government really are compensating autism.

We knew then that these parents didn’t want to talk to the media. They didn’t want to speak with Mr. Kirby, to become his latest cause célèbre. And now we know that they still do not want this attention and we read once again that the case was not compensated for autism. From a recent decision:

“Petitioners have made these requests because they have had the misfortune of being frequently contacted by members of the media who mistakenly believe they were compensated for their alternative autism allegation when Petitioners were actually compensated for a Table Injury encephalopathy.”

Given the family’s clear intent to get out of the public’s eye, I am hesitant to put this article out. But perhaps, just perhaps, some of those using this family as part of their constant fight to keep the autism/vaccine idea alive might reconsider.


By Matt Carey

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5 Responses to “A cause célèbre for those claiming vaccines cause autism”

  1. reissd March 1, 2014 at 17:04 #

    We can hope they will reconsider. Not likely, because I doubt those using the case put the child or his family in the center.

  2. lilady March 1, 2014 at 21:37 #

    For all those who claim that awards in the Vaccine Court for encephalitis are really awards for autism, following immunization(s), I offer up this study published in the “Vaccines” journal:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22080172

    Lack of association between childhood immunizations and encephalitis in California, 1998-2008.

    Abstract
    OBJECTIVE:

    A number of new and combination vaccines have been introduced for children in the past two decades. Encephalitis cases occurring within defined time windows following administration of pertussis- or measles-containing vaccines are eligible for compensation by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Due to increased parental concerns about vaccine safety and potential neurologic adverse events following immunization with new and multiple vaccines administered at the same visit, our aim was to determine whether immunizations are associated with an increased risk of encephalitis within defined risk windows.
    METHODS:

    We reviewed immunization records from 246 pediatric encephalitis cases referred to the California Encephalitis Project between July 1998 and December 2008. We included data on 110 cases who had been immunized in the year prior to the onset of encephalitis (observation period) and had complete immunization records. We used the case-centered method to test whether cases were more likely to have developed encephalitis in defined risk windows-42, 30 and 21 days after any vaccination, 3 days after pertussis-containing vaccines and 5-15 days after measles-virus containing vaccines-compared with the rest of the observation period.
    RESULTS:

    All vaccines recommended in the current immunization schedule were represented in our sample. No increased risk of encephalitis was seen following administration of pertussis-containing vaccines, measles-containing vaccines or any number of vaccines administered in a single visit (vaccine episode); the odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for encephalitis after a vaccine episode were: 1.0 (0.6-1.8) in a 42-day risk window, 0.9 (0.5-1.6) in a 30-day risk window and 1.2 (0.7-2.2) in a 21-day risk window.
    CONCLUSION:

    No association between receipt of currently recommended immunizations and subsequent development of encephalitis was observed in this study.

  3. Jon Mitchell March 3, 2014 at 02:07 #

    If you participate in online discussions about autism and vaccines (and I’d advise you to spend your time more productively)

    For someone who dispenses such pearls of wisdom, you seem to devote quite a bit of time engaging in discussions about autism and vaccines and the majority of your posts in this blog seem to deal with that issue. Interesting.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 3, 2014 at 02:19 #

      Pretty obvious irony. Glad you caught it.

  4. dingo199 April 7, 2014 at 17:56 #

    Just to point out you haven’t redacted the child’s name from all your post. A Bit late in the day, but better late than never?

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