Monthly Archives: November 2011

Working together to Protect the nation… Paranoia and Protectionism

There’s so much I could say about the conference ‘Immunisation, Working Together to Protect the Nation’; the disagreements between the speakers, key items lacking in current knowledge, the blank gaze of the chair, Dr Helen Bedford, when I asked her about long term health outcomes, or the smugness of Dr Heidi Larson, former anthropologist, dissecting the Psychological reasons for the resistance to vaccines.

I could have focused on Professor John Oxford, virologist, who used the word witch and a non-vaccinating mother in the same sentence.  Who showed Blake’s painting of a family meeting in heaven, so we would understand the gravity of the flu.  Who told another speaker that he wouldn’t want to be vaccinated in his pharmacy if he had just vaccinated a Hepatitis B patient due to the risk of catching Hepatitis B!  No comment.  I will leave this to another speaker who was overheard calling him paranoid…

But they were passing details to the real message that I took with me from this conference.  Which was that the immunisation program does not work together with the people it reports to serve and protect.  And that this prophylactic intervention, that has never been tested with a benign placebo but other vaccines and never a control group, may have paid a price far greater than its success claims.  No intelligent comment was offered from the speakers on the lack of safety testing.

The lack of compassion for Jackie Fletcher and Alli Edwards from the JABS support group will haunt me forever.  Jackie, a beautiful dignified woman who introduced herself, as a mother of a vaccine damaged child.  She asked questions about the lack of opportunities for parents’ groups to get involved in vaccination policy and challenged them on the current ineffective monitoring system with its inherent failure to follow up on the limited yellow card reports.  She respectfully asked how do they expect to get accurate safety data if they don’t monitor and follow up on serious side effects.  Alli Edwards, a most elegant mother, trying to rein in her passion, again asking legitimate questions.

At least no one questioned why they were there, like Professor David Salisbury did last year.  But the answers were hollow.

The Flu Fairy from West Suffolk was one of the speakers.  Elaine spent her happy hours persuading employees of the local Hospital to get their flu jab, Hepatitis B or MMR.  She was very proud of her 1,000th flu shot.  Alli asked her what she would do if one of the employees suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccine.  Unfortunately this senior nurse answered, rather shamefully, that she didn’t think that adults suffered ADRs from vaccines.

Alli reminded her that there was a Hep B support group for employees who had debilitating injury after this vaccine and I offered that the Department of Work and Pensions paid dozens of such compensation to adults for vaccine damage.

That a medical person was administering potentially life threatening and debilitating products without knowledge is extraordinary.

I take this to imply that the employees were not fully informed.  I have subsequently found these figures.
“One victim wrote:

“The injuries we suffered as a result of the Hepatitis B vaccination are devastating. We have permanent serious health problems, lost our jobs, our careers, independence, ambitions, family life and the joy of life.”
Stated by a medical doctor suffering from vaccine damage.

However, I applauded Nurse Ramsden on allowing employees to check their antibody levels before unnecessary vaccinating, say for the MMR.  Some health authorities demand vaccination in the contract and it is rare to give this option.

Then what followed was unbelievable.

Dr David Elliman turned to the nurse and gently scolded, ‘That is concerning, this could give the wrong message to parents.’ Heavens forbid the parents realize that they could accept fewer vaccines for their children.

A shaking Jackie stood up and said that blood tests were a very useful tool and could reduce the risk of children being needlessly exposed to risks of severe damage.  She stated that she could cite many accounts and gave two examples.  One was a little boy who had started with seizures 10 days  after his MMR and ended up in a drug induced coma to try and stabilize him.  When he was five the immunization consultant at the local hospital had contacted his parents to ask about his ‘booster’ MMR.  The parents and the boy’s GP were reluctant to risk giving it again.  JABS advised a blood test which the GP happily undertook.  The results showed the boy had good antibody levels so did not need to be exposed to any further risk.

Jackie also told of her own boy who had suffered a catastrophic reaction to his MMR vaccination.  This hadn’t stopped three different branches of the D o H contacting her when his ‘booster’ MMR was due.  Blood tests showed that he was covered for the three diseases.  She said it was wrong of Dr Elliman to negate the value of blood tests. Incidentally Jackie’s son is now 20.  He is in a wheelchair, has no speech and regular epileptic fits.   Finally this year his damage was officially linked to the MMR and he received a (pitifully small) payment from the Vaccine Damage Payment Fund.

Apparently testing the blood would just tie up resources that could be better spent elsewhere added Dr Jenny Harries, JCVI, Joint Committee for Vaccines and Immunisation.

Tie up resources to potentially save lives?  Now did I miss something?

Here is a valid point made by a paying member of the conference, (nearly all others would have been covered by their employer or drug company.)  By a mother whose child was not protected but permanently damaged by the recommended vaccines.  What a difference a simple blood test may have made.  Instead, several boosters are given of most vaccines when they ‘work’ in 95% of recipients.  Boosters for all are to cover those 5%.   So again the end justifying the means argument rises again.  Most children are at further risk of adverse reactions in order to cover the small minority for which the vaccine has not ‘worked’.

Jackie Fletcher’s experience and idea was totally walked over.  David Elliman told us how we needed to up the vaccine rates to protect those vulnerable children.  His background is in child protection and community child health.  Since 1996 two children had tragically died and two had sadly suffered serious damage from measles, all immune suppressed children, he shared.  David’s role would understandably be to protect those groups of children by arguing for mass vaccination.  However, in his noble pursuit, is he and those around him blinded to the cost?

No acknowledgment, let alone compassion, was shown towards vaccine damage, quite the opposite.  He told me in a break that if Jackie had her way, parents could be asking for whichever vaccines they wanted.  He also looked panicked when I told him proudly of Healthwatch’s part in the new White Paper where patients had a greater involvement in their care.  Patient choice sat uncomfortably.  I wanted to remind him that Evidence Based Medicine has three strands of which patient experience and choice was an important part but I sure he had just forgotten.

Jackie could have stood up again and told the audience that since that time the government had paid out on 4 children’s death from vaccines.  She could have said that the government has paid out £3.5m to patients left disabled by vaccinations just since 1997.  In fact, 917 payments have been made since the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme was introduced in 1979 until 2005 when The Evening Standard demanded this information under the FOI.  (The US has paid out $2 billion for vaccine damage by the way.)

Would it have made any difference?  I doubt it.  Surely, managers and policy makers know the figures.  But the maths just does not add up.  2 million children unvaccinated with MMR in the UK, a further million without the booster.  Only 2 deaths and 2 serious complications from the wild measles but dozens more damaged by the MMR officially.  I wish I had been on the ball with my questions at this point.

Now lets consider the potential true figure of vaccine damage.

Dr Harries, Joint Director of Public Health, and JCVI member, had proudly told us in her presentation that the UK has one of the best records for reporting of ADRs and that patients could report an ADR for themselves.  I had to challenge this because at the first ADR conference in 2011 we were told by the MHRA (where the Yellow Cards are sent to) that only 6% of the public knew about this system and speakers said that they estimated only around 10% of ADRs are reported.  The Brussels hearing on Pharmocovigilance, that I attended in 2009, had warned of the same and called it an epidemic of ADRs.

I suggest that 2 measles deaths and 2 complications is the sum of it since 1996.  Yet the official figure of 4 for vaccine damage payments where the child has died following MMR and 4 for severe vaccine damage from the MMR is just a small proportion.  Jackie Fletcher’s JABS support group holds reports for approximately 2,000 children.

The multi-party MMR legal action, at its peak in 2003, had 1,400 live legal aid certificates which showed that the cases were compelling enough to have the support of the Legal Aid Board.  Has anyone ever contacted her about them she asked?  Has anyone ever contacted anyone who filed a Yellow Card for more details?  NO she told us.

Most in public health have a duty to protect the weak and to reduce disease, and indeed the professionals and many committee members come from this background.  However, where is the ADR Czar?  Where is the voice of the parent in this?  Defenseless otherwise healthy babies have no voice.

And what about Dr David Elliman, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, our Immunisation spokesman?  While he was preparing the hearing against Dr Jayne Donegan, accused of peddling junk science in 2006 in supporting a non-vaccinating mother in a custody hearing, for which she was totally cleared by the GMC, Baby P died.  Dr Elliman was one of the senior managers on the case and found to be lacking by The Evening Standard investigation in 2009.

Interesting that the slogan on Haringey’s headed paper was Working together for Childrens’ Health.  It has left me wondering.  You should wonder too.

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