Vaccines: Doctor Judges & Juries Hanging Their Own

Posted: 1/29/2010 12:20:16 AM | with 39 comments

by Barbara Loe Fisher

I remember the day I met Dr. Andrew Wakefield. It was September 12, 1997 and he had just flown into Dulles Airport from London the night before to speak at the First International Public Conference on Vaccination sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center. The title of his talk was “Measles Virus & Measles Vaccine: Lessons to be Learned.”

It was five months before he and 12 other physician colleagues would publish a study in The Lancet 1 calling for more research into a possible association between inflammatory bowel disease, MMR vaccine and developmental delays in some children.

I met Dr. Wakefield that day in 1997 in the auditorium where our conference was to take place as he was trying to decide what to do with a slide that identified him as being employed by the Royal Free Hospital. You see, he had received a telephone threat from London in the middle of the night warning him that if he spoke at our conference, he might not have a job when he returned to Britain. He then described to me the intense pressure he had been under from senior health officials in Britain to withdraw from our conference.

This was five months before he and his colleagues published the first article in the medical literature suggesting there might be an association between vaccine induced chronic inflammation in the body and developmental delays in some children.

In September 1997, Andrew Wakefield was a young British gastroenterologist, a rising star in the world of experimental medicine. He had received awards and scholarships for original research into the pathogenesis and etiology of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease. He had a bright future ahead of him until he examined children suffering with both inflammatory bowel disease and developmental delays and decided to investigate the reports by parents that their once normal children regressed and began exhibiting symptoms of autism after getting an MMR shot.

So, as Andrew Wakefield and I were standing in the conference auditorium five months before The Lancet article was published, I told him that he did not have to speak at our conference. I told him it was not worth losing his job. I told him that I could look back and count the doctors lying on the road, who had lost their careers because they dared to conduct research into or speak about vaccine risks. I told him his own colleagues would hang him for challenging the status quo.

Despite the fact he had been threatened by senior doctors in positions of authority demanding that he withdraw from our conference, Andrew Wakefield refused my offer to stand down.  He said that if he did not speak at our conference, he would always be afraid and he was not going to live in fear for the rest of his life.

And then we sat down and had a long talk about freedom of thought, conscience and scientific inquiry. We talked about fear and courage, about risking it all to do what is right. We talked about events leading up to World War II in Europe and how good people did nothing when they had the chance to act; how instead they turned away from the suffering of minorities targeted for destruction.  We talked about government health policies that devalue individual life and write off some as acceptable losses in service to the rest. We talked about the suffering of vaccine injured children and their families.

And I knew then, that despite my warnings to Andrew Wakefield  that he could lose everything if he tried to investigate or speak out about vaccine risks, this man was not going to stand down. He was going to risk it all.

It was a moment I will never forget because I knew the price he would pay for standing up to colleagues ordering him to salute smartly and remain silent.

Today, doctors in positions of authority in Britain, who have sought to intimidate Andrew Wakefield even before the February 1998 Lancet article was published, have declared through the General Medical Council that he and two other brave doctors, who refused to recant the conclusions of The Lancet article, are guilty of professional misconduct. 2 The General Medical Council does not operate a legal court of law; it is rather a medical court of opinion, where doctors can sanction other doctors and, in effect, hang their own.

I learned early on in my 28 years of work to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defend the informed consent ethic in medicine, that it does not matter whether you are a doctor investigating vaccine risks or a parent of a once healthy child, who regressed into chronic poor health after vaccination. If you question the quality of vaccine science or policy, you will be demonized, harassed, and sanctioned for being an unbeliever and questioning the wisdom of doctors and scientists in positions of authority.

The General Medical Council inquisition was never about the three doctors they put on the rack and found guilty on most counts. It was always about declaring vaccine science and policy innocent on all counts. And creating a horrible warning to any young doctor, who even thinks about investigating or talking about better defining vaccine risks, to think again, shut up and salute smartly.

Today, I join millions of parents of vaccine injured children around the world, and thank Drs. Andrew Wakefield, Simon Murch and John Walker-Smith for having the intellectual honesty, conscience and courage to stand up for truth and freedom in science. You are honored and loved by many for what you have done to try to help ease the suffering of the growing numbers of vaccine injured children and prevent more children from joining their ranks.

Like you, we will not stand down and we will not be silent. We will stand up and defend truth and freedom for as long as it takes to bring both back.

1  Wakefield AJ, Murch SH et al. The Lancet. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. February 28, 1998.

2 Boseley S. The Guardian. From the Lancet to the GMC: how Dr. Andrew Wakefield fell from grace. January 28, 2010.

January 29, 2010 Statement by the National Vaccine Information Center on Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his research

 The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) supports the past, present and future scientific research into the reported association between inflammatory bowel disease, developmental delays and vaccination in young children conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and other physician scientists.  Dr. Wakefield’s work to define the pathogenesis and etiology of chronic inflammation in the body that can affect brain and immune function is commendable. His work has led to biomedical interventions for children, who have become chronically ill and disabled after vaccination, to ease their suffering.

     Research to better define the association between vaccination and chronic inflammatory disorders that affect brain and immune function should be given a much higher priority by government, industry and academia. Understanding the biological mechanisms for vaccine induced chronic inflammation in children and adults can help identify those at high risk for suffering vaccine reactions, injury and death and lead to adoption of safer vaccine policies.

   The National Vaccine Information Center presented Andrew Wakeifield with an Humanitarian Award at the Oct. 2-4, 2009 Fourth International Public Conference on Vaccination for  “his compassion, brave spirit and uncompromising commitment to improving the health of children and the biological integrity of future generations.”

Click here for a Statement from Thoughtful House Center for Children

Click here for Official Finding of Facts from UK General Medical Council

Click here for AOA Short Form FAQ About the Wakefield GMC Case

Click here for commentary by Mark Blaxill “From the Roman to the Wakefield Inquisition”

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NH Conscientious Belief Exemption Bill Hearings

Posted: 1/20/2010 8:58:40 PM | with 12 comments
 by Dawn Richardson

NVIC Director of State Advocacy

    The New Hampshire Coalition for Vaccine Choice ( led by NVIC members Eileen Landies and Melanie Streeter will be participating in a public hearing on Jan. 28, 2010 in Concord, New Hampshire on proposed legislation for conscientious belief exemption to vaccination (HB 1555). They need the support of everyone who wants to help secure the right to make informed, voluntary vaccine decisions in New Hampshire.

A fundamental parent right

   One of the most fundamental and important parental rights is for parents to have the final say over what drugs and vaccines are put into their child’s body.  Whether you chose to consent to your child receiving a particular vaccine or not, the important thing is that it is ultimately your decision and not the decision of a government health or school official or anyone else.

 One Size Does Not Fit All

   Unfortunately, there are still states that make receiving an education contingent upon a child being injected with dozens of CDC recommended and government mandated vaccines.  The problem with this is that every child is different and every vaccine is different: one size does not fit all. Ensuring that all states have informed consent protections in their laws in the form of strong medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions is the only way to protect our freedom to make voluntary health care decisions, including voluntary decisions about vaccination.

Here is What You Can Do

   Here is how you can help even if you do not live in New Hampshire:  please forward this message to everyone you know in New Hampshire so they know about this bill and can contact their friends and colleagues.

If you are a resident of New Hampshire, there are five steps you can take to make your voice  heard and show your support:

  1. Attend the Jan. 28, 2010 public hearing for HB 1555 in Concord New Hampshire next Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building (LOB), Room 205.
  2. If you can’t attend the hearing, send a letter to members of the Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee.
  3. Send a letter to your own elected representative
    You can link to and scroll down to “Finding and Contacting You Representatives.”
  4. If you or a family member have suffered from a vaccine injury and are willing to help by sharing a vaccine reaction experience, please contact Eileen and Melanie directly at
  5. Forward this information to everyone you know in New Hampshire.  Please remember to reach out to supportive health care practitioners asking for their testimony and letters too.
Together, we can help the “Live Free or Die” state restore parental rights back in favor of informed consent to vaccination with a conscientious belief exemption.

About Dawn Richardson 

Dawn Richardson
   Dawn Richardson is president of PROVE (Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education), a statewide parent rights advocacy network in Austin, Texas she co-founded in 1997. She was appointed Director of State Advocacy for the National Vaccine Information Center in October 2009.
Securing Informed Consent Rights in Texas

An activist Mom, Dawn has led a highly successful 12 year public information campaign in Texas and in the Texas Legislature to promote awareness about vaccine safety, medical privacy and informed consent issues.  Her work has contributed to positive legislative changes, including the passage of a statewide conscientious belief exemption to vaccination in 2003; the vacating of a gubernatorial executive order for mandatory HPV vaccines for 6th grade girls in 2007; and institution of medical privacy protections in a statewide vaccine tracking system and a newborn DNA storage system. 

Defeating HPV Vaccine Mandates

  Dawn graduated with a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Connecticut and her vocational and educational experience in science and computer engineering has helped to shape her leading role in the criticism of mandatory one-size-fits-all vaccine policies and vaccine tracking systems. She has appeared in many media reports in Texas and nationally defending parents’ right to refuse vaccines. Her February 2007 appearance on the NBC “Today Show” calling for the repeal of the Texas Governor's Executive Order mandating Gardasil vaccine for all sixth grade girls was instrumental in raising public awareness in Texas that the Executive Order should be overridden by the legislature.

Debating Doctors & Speaking Out

 She has publicly debated doctors and spoken at health conferences about how vaccine safety is taking a backseat to genetic technologies and how drug companies are spending millions of dollars lobbying legislatures for stronger vaccine mandates, while government-operated computerized vaccine tracking systems are being used to enforce compliance.

Developing a National State-Based Vaccine Choice Network

   Dawn led the vaccine choice advocacy training sessions at 
NVIC’s Oct. 2-4, 2009 Fourth International Public Conference on Vaccination. As NVIC's Director of State Advocacy, she is developing a national state-based communications and organizing network to help Americans secure vaccine safety, privacy and informed consent protections in state public health laws to protect voluntary vaccine choices in America.

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2010 Needs a Fearless Conversation About Vaccination

Posted: 1/6/2010 2:08:35 AM | with 28 comments

By Barbara Loe Fisher

As the second decade of the 21st century begins, it is clear that the first one saw big changes in the way Americans think about health and vaccination. A good example is the fact that a majority of Americans “just said no” to getting an H1N1 influenza shot last year. 1 2 The truth is, most of us just didn’t buy the hype about swine flu. Perhaps it is because we are tired of constantly living in fear.

Fear was the unifying emotion that defined the first decade of the 21st century in America. 3 The Decade of Fear began on September 11, 2001, a day of indescribable loss that marked the ending of so much. Among the losses was the end of a civil and substantive conversation about vaccine safety that had taken shape during the previous two decades 4 but which - after September 11, 2001 - was hijacked by fear.

Within weeks of 9-11, there were frantic warnings by government officials that terrorists had weaponized smallpox and it was necessary to immediately dilute stockpiles of reactive 40-year old smallpox vaccine to make enough to give a smallpox shot to every man, woman and child. 5 6 7 Then the allegation that terrorists had hidden weapons of mass destruction to unleash deadly infectious diseases on all of us 8 - was used to justify forcing soldiers to get multiple doses of reactive experimental anthrax vaccine. 9 10

And within weeks of 9-11, a Congress driven by fear quickly passed The Patriot Act 11 followed by the Homeland Security Act. 12 Unprecedented authority was given to the Executive branch of our government, including creation of the third largest federal agency - the Department of Homeland Security. And then public health officials pushed for passage of new Model State Emergency Health Powers Acts to expand the police powers of state health officials whenever a public health emergency is declared. 13

For three years after 9-11, special interest lobbyists invoked bioterrorism and fear of infectious microorganisms to persuade Congress to pass Bioshield 14 15 16 and Pandemic Influenza legislation shielding vaccine manufacturers, doctors and public health officials from all liability when Americans are injured or killed by experimental vaccines or drugs used during a government declared public health emergencies - like the questionable pandemic influenza emergency declaration America is still operating under today even though there is no true emergency. 17

The attack on America by a rogue band of terrorists on September 11, 2001 created a Decade of Fear that made criticism of government policy, including vaccine policy, not just politically incorrect but a danger to national security and the public health. Fear and its travel companions - prejudice and intolerance - ruled the decade.

Those who criticized the quality and quantity of government regulated vaccine science or questioned the ethics of mandatory vaccination laws were marginalized by those in positions of authority, 18 who defended the status quo. The fear, prejudice and intolerance defining the first decade of the 21st century 19 was eventually turned on parents of vaccine injured children, 20 21 22 who were asking doctors and public health authorities how many vaccines their children were going to be forced to take 23 24 in the name of protecting national security and the public health.

September 11, 2001 was a day of indescribable loss. And the losses America suffered that day have been magnified by the losses we have suffered since that day because some have used fear as a political tool to silence criticism of government policy.

Next month is the 25th anniversary of the publishing of the book DPT: A Shot in the Dark, which I co-authored with medical historian Harris Coulter. It was first published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and was used by the Institute of Medicine as a reference for the 1991 report on Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines. It was the first major book documenting vaccine risks and flaws in vaccine science, regulation, policymaking, and law.

A Shot in the Dark is a book that is perhaps more relevant today, a quarter century after it was published in 1985 because, in the words of the Spanish philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Twenty-five years later, parents of vaccine injured children are still calling for meaningful reform of public health policies and vaccine laws to protect individual and public health. 25 It is time to leave the politics of fear of the last decade behind, and change the way the conversation about vaccine science, policy, ethics and law is conducted so that the real issues about health and vaccination can be addressed responsibly. The people expect and deserve no less from those in positions of authority in government, industry and medicine, who operate the public health system.

We, who are critical of one-size-fits all mandatory vaccination policies because those policies fail to acknowledge biodiversity and do not respect the informed consent ethic, welcome a new, more rational and substantive conversation about vaccination in 2010. As President Franklin Roosevelt said “The truth is found when men are free to pursue it.”

Hopefully, 2010 will be the beginning of a fearless and fierce search for the truth about health and vaccination that will enlighten us all.

1 CNN. November 18, 2009. Poll: Majority of Americans Don’t Want H1N1 Shot.

2 Harvard School of Public Health. December 22, 2009. Poll Finds Three Quarters of Parents Who Tried to Get H1N1 Vaccine for Their Children Have Gotten It.

3 Giraldi, P. The Huffington Post. November 25, 2007. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.

4 National Vaccine Information Center. May 3, 1999. New Genetic Study Points Way For Vaccine Research.

5 Pear, R. New York Times. March 20, 2002. A Nation Challenged: The Bioterrorism Threat; Frozen Smallpox Vaccine Is Still Potent.

6 Fisher, BL. National Vaccine Information Center. Winter 2002. Smallpox and Forced Vaccination: What Every American Needs to Know.

7 Scardaville, M. The Heritage Foundation. December 6, 2002. Public Health and National Security Planning: The Case for Voluntary Smallpox Vaccination.

8 Risen J, Miller J. New York Times. November 11, 2001. A Nation Challenged: Chemical Weapons; Al Qaeda Site Points to Tests of Chemicals.

9 PBS. December 4, 2001. The Anthrax Vaccine.

10 Rempfer, TL. The Journal of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security. May 2009. The Anthrax Vaccine: A Dilemma for Homeland Security.

11 Congressional Research Service. April 15, 2002. The USA Patriot Act: A Legal Analysis.

12 PBS. May 15, 2003. The Homeland Security Act.

13 American Civil Liberties Union. January 1, 2002. Model State Emergency Health Powers Act.

14 McGlinchey D. Government Executive. January 23, 2004. HHS officials anxiously await passage of “Bioshield” bill.

15 Ismal MA. The Center for Public Integrity. April 1, 2007. Spending on Lobbying Thrives. Drug and health policies industries invest $182 million to influence legislation.

16 Fisher BL. National Vaccine Information Center. November 15, 2009. Letter to Col. Robert P. Kadlec, MD, Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness.

17 Department of Health and Human Services. April 26, 2009, July 24, 2009, October 1, 2009, December 30, 2009. Determination that a Public Health Emergency Exists.

18 Hodge JG, Gostin LO. Center for Law and the Public’s Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. February 15, 2002. School Vaccination Requirements: Historical, Social & Legal Perspectives.

19 Social Research. December 22, 2004. The politics of fear after 9/11.

20 Fisher, BL. National Vaccine Information Center. March 25, 2008. Promoting Vaccination, Fear, Hate & Discrimination.

21 Cicolli A. Yale Journal of Biology & Medicine. September 2008. Mandatory Vaccination: The Role of Tort Law.

22 Thompson C. Washington Post. December 20, 2009. Worst Ideas of the Decade: Vaccine scares.

23 Deardorff, J. Chicago Tribune. November 7, 2007. New study: Americans may be overvaccinated.

24 Wallis C. Time Magazine. March 10, 2008. Case Study: Autism & Vaccines.

25 Fisher BL. April 11, 2008. Vaccine Safety Research Priorities: Engaging the Public.

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