Dear CDC

26 Mar

I read with interest Dr Schuchat’s opinion piece in the AJC today.

Whilst it is gratifying to see someone of Dr Schuchat’s calibre responding to previous claims regarding vaccines in autism I would like to make a few points to Dr Schuchat and the CDC in general.

Firstly, this level of response is around eight years too late. What have you been doing on the media/PR front over the last eight years? I’ll tell you what your ‘opponents’ have been doing – they’ve been conducting protests outside your offices, outside the offices of the AAP etc. They’ve been setting up and organising vaccine/autism groups and heavily marketing them via the use of organic and paid for web based advertising.

The only people who have made any kind of attempt to counter these groups and the misinformation (deliberate or not) they publish is people like myself. I am not attempting to aggrandise myself at all. I am attempting to convey to you how one sided the ‘battle’ has been over the last few years.

Where were you? You were needed. You could’ve helped. Instead you sat back and hoped this would all go away. It didn’t. It won’t.

Secondly, the level of Dr Schuchat’s response is very close to condescending. Simply stating that:

Kirby’s column included many inaccuracies related to childhood vaccines. As such, it illustrates that when it comes to immunizations, child development and specific medical conditions, the best source of guidance is the child’s health care provider.

is patronising in the extreme. The level and quality of the debate has moved on in the last eight years. Bland assurances won’t cut it. You need to be specific and offer evidence. Autistic people, parents of autistic people and interested professionals are smart enough to know and understand a certain level of science these days.

Don’t be shy about providing people with science. You have some truly excellent science on ‘your side’ as I and others have attempted to blog about in the last five years to no small effect. For example, Googling mmr autism displays, amongst others, the blog of a friend of mine – also the parent of an autistic child and also convinced of the need to blog about the bad science surrounding the various vaccine/autism hypotheses. Googling thiomersal autism brings up _this_ blog. We’re doing your job for you!

You’re being left behind in this debate. Its time you caught up.

8 Responses to “Dear CDC”

  1. Ivar T March 26, 2008 at 13:54 #

    I think you do an excellent job Kev.

    People are too easily mislead.

  2. Nando March 26, 2008 at 14:45 #

    Kev,
    Thank you for stating this. When parents get the diagnosis of autism for their child, they want to learn and do everything possible. Many in the science community usually come back as very cold and/or condescending. The medical community, at times, has this notion that the general population can not understand the science. This creates a gap, with families trying to discover what to do. Then comes those with an agenda with the “answers”. As you have stated, this debate becomes one-sided. People will gravitative toward “experts” who seem fill the gap and claim they provide “solutions”.

    I’m glad you have hit the nail on the head with this post. Bless you.

  3. Catherina March 26, 2008 at 14:48 #

    As such, it illustrates that when it comes to immunizations, child development and specific medical conditions, the best source of guidance is the child’s health care provider.

    She said that? Wow – patronizing indeed – and far from the truth for many parents, too.

  4. Chuck March 26, 2008 at 15:15 #

    “Instead you sat back and hoped this would all go away.” That is their modus operandi isn’t it?

  5. Regan March 27, 2008 at 02:10 #

    “You need to be specific and offer evidence. Autistic people, parents of autistic people and interested professionals are smart enough to know and understand a certain level of science these days.”
    —————
    Evidence is good, but what is the defined ertain level of science? We seem to have made a shambles of the science that is publicly presented by either misunderstanding or misrepresentation (not this blog, but you might know what I mean). Seeing the translation from research paper and then from initial reports to subsequent popularized reports sometimes reminds me of the game where you sit in a circle and whisper a statement and then see what was passed on at the end.

    I agree with you that the scientific and medical establishment could exercise more visibility and participation on these matters. It’s late and maybe too little, but better late than never.

  6. Ms. Clark March 27, 2008 at 04:17 #

    Two things the CDC has done to complicate and exacerbate the autism/vaccine hysteria are:

    helping to create and promote the hysteria with the “Autism ALARM” which is some kind of heads up to doctors to watch for developmental markers of autism in their young patients (not that they should be looking for autism in their older patients who may have gone undiagnosed and who might benefit from a proper diagnosis….)

    and helping to fuel the more extreme and bizarre elements of the antivax wingnut brigate by agreeing to meet with these idiots and invite them to meetings and generally treat them as if they were reasonable and insightful people (which they are not), same goes for the NIMH. If you have money you can have access to these top ranking officials. If you don’t it doesn’t matter if you are “on the side” of the CDC of NIMH, they have no time to talk to you.

  7. passionlessDrone March 27, 2008 at 16:04 #

    Hi Kev –

    Though we may not agree on many things, I find myself in agreement with many of the things in this post. Nicely done.

    Take care!

    – pD

  8. Joseph March 27, 2008 at 16:56 #

    It’s as if we care more about vaccination coverage than the CDC, isn’t it? Strangely, many of us in this debate (particularly those of us who are parents or autistic persons or both) find ourselves in it as an incidental matter. Not that it isn’t an important debate to have, but I don’t think we’d likely be participants otherwise.

    A lot of times we do engage in tasks the CDC or the scientific community should be doing. Case in point, when you Google “generation rescue phone survey” the second entry is mine. (Which, BTW, has not had a single rebuttal). At no point has there been an official response from government organizations to GR propaganda that I know of.

    The CDC information page on thimerosal and autism is pitiful, BTW. It’s like 5, 6 paragraphs.

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