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Talking Vaccine Science with Government: Why Do It?

Posted: 3/12/2009 12:00:00 AM | with 0 comments

by Barbara Loe Fisher

After the historic election in November that saw Barack Obama elected President, I wondered what he and his Administration would do about addressing the question that is on the minds of many parents: Why are so many vaccinated children today chronically ill, suffering with learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, autism, asthma, diabetes and other brain and immune system problems? Would the Obama Administration acknowledge the importance of looking at whether national vaccine policies are having an unintended negative effect on a growing number of children and adopt a robust vaccine safety research agenda to answer outstanding questions?

Part of the answer came one day after the President took office, on January 21, when he sent a memo to the heads of all federal agencies and told them "My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration."

The door is opening and there is a lot of work to be done. Concerned citizens getting involved will keep the participatory democracy process and work products truly transparent, collaborative and meaningful.

This Monday, March 16, there will be an open meeting in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the CDC to get input from the public about the kinds of scientific studies that should be included in the national vaccine safety research agenda.

At stake is a proposal by a vaccine stakeholder Writing Group that met in Salt Lake City last month to look at whether a study comparing the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated children should be included that evaluates whether there are pathological differences in brain and immune system development and function and whether there are biological high risk factors that place some children at higher risk than others for suffering vaccine reactions.

If you want to weigh in, this is an opportunity to make your voice heard either by showing up at the meeting, participating online or by conference call.

Who: National Vaccine Advisory Committee

Where: Department of Health and Human Services; Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Room 800; 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201

Why: To talk about the draft vaccine research agenda of CDC's Immunization Safety Office (ISO). Draft documents prepared by the vaccine stakeholder Writing Group that identify potential gaps in the ISO draft research agenda and proposes prioritization criteria for the agenda will be reviewed. These documents are available at: http://www.hhs.gov/nvpo/nvac/PublicEngageme nt.html and include Writing Group Draft Statements on (1) Outcomes; (2) Gaps in the Research Agenda; and (3) Criteria for Assessing ISO Research Topic Priorities. Participants at the March 16 meeting will be asked to comment on potential gaps in the draft agenda and options for developing research priorities.

How to Attend: The meeting will be webcast and audio conferencing is available. Contact Kirsten Vannice (kirsten.vannice@hhs.gov if you want to come to the meeting or be hooked up by computer or phone. Draft agenda, call-in numbers, a link to the webcast and additional materials will be provided to registered participants and posted on the NVPO website in advance of the meeting.

Importance of Meeting: The government's scientific research agenda to investigate vaccine associated brain and immune system dysfunction among children is of great interest to a growing number of Americans living in every state who have children with learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, autism, asthma, diabetes and other kinds of chronic illness.

The CDC held public engagement meetings in Birmingham, Ashland and Indianapolis in the past few months to ask citizens about their vaccine safety concerns. A vaccine stakeholder meeting in Salt Lake City Feb. 20-21 was also held, coordinated and facilitated by The Keystone Center, to create a suggested framework for setting national vaccine safety research priorities.

There are individuals, special interest groups and corporations opposed to a robust scientific research agenda addressing vaccine safety concerns that involve input from and participation by the public. Those who support both the participatory democracy approach to government policymaking, which is defined by government transparency and collaboration with the people, should consider attending in person, online or on the telephone to voice their concerns.

One way Americans can change government and government policies is by becoming activist citizens advocating for constructive change. President Obama's call for transparency, accountability and public engagement is an opportunity to stand up and make a difference by helping to reform government policy, such as vaccine policy, which affects the health of our children and grandchildren.

The power does belong to the people if the people will stand up and exercise it wisely.

Posted: 3/12/2009 12:00:00 AM | with 0 comments


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