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.

Safety of Rota virus vaccine in HIV /AIDS babies

Dear Sir / Madam,  (to HIV agencies in Sudan)

I am requesting information about the safety procedures of administering the Rotavirus vaccine, introduced recently in Sudan, for babies under 6 months who may have infections, especially HIV.

The vaccine insert warns against this practice but I am interested to know how many babies are there in Sudan of this age who may have HIV or Aids, and what surveillance and testing is being done before vaccination? I was pleased to read that the WHO report on Sudan’s Rotavirus vaccine program stressing that “

the use of rotavirus vaccines should be part of a comprehensive strategy to control diarrhoeal diseases; this strategy should include, among other interventions, improvements in hygiene and sanitation, zinc supplementation, community-based administration of oral rehydration solution and overall improvements in case management.”

Breastfeeding must also be included in this comprehensive strategy.  For example, breastfed children are over 6 times less likely to die from diarrhea, The Disease Control Priorities Project (DCPP) gives this important data: Exclusive breastfeeding means no other food or drink, not even water, is permitted, except for supplements of vitamins and minerals or necessary medicines. The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding is six months (WHO 2001). A meta-analysis of three observational studies in developing countries shows that breastfed children under age 6 months are 6.1 times less likely to die of diarrhea than infants who are not breastfed (WHO Collaborative Study Team 2000).

I look forward to hearing what strategies you have to support these sensible interventions and what safety protocol you will be following or supporting when vaccinating children who may already have an infection such as HIV or Aids.

Many thanks for your work in the area of health in Sudan and for your considered reply,

UNICEF’s role in prosecution of non vaccinating parents

Dear Sir / Madam, (To the UNICEF reps in Nigeria)

I am most concerned about Officials in Nigeria’s northern Kano state insisting that parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated against polio may be prosecuted and could face jail time.

(And that 131 children were vaccinated at gunpoint in Nsanje, Africa

The reason I am contacting you is that this government order issued this week comes as UNICEF had been pressuring Nigeria’s northern states to promote the polio Vaccination.

I was at the GAVI conference where a journalist asked about compensation and the question was avoided.  However, I am concerned that ‘promoters’ of health and vaccines would still want informed choice and a damage payment scheme, especially as many thousands of cases of paralytic Polio are vaccine induced.   If health prevention is forced surely it means ethically that you need to have a good safety surveillance in place, treatment and compensation, like we attempt to do in the West.

Polio can harm but so too can the vaccine…There are many cases of vaccine injury but here is a rare case of compensation

Further concern is that immunosuppressed individuals should not take the live Oral Polio Vaccine, including people with AIDS, HIV infection, other immunodeficiency diseases. Please see the vaccine insert from the manufacturer for contraindications.  Therefore, I wonder how babies are being tested for HIV and AIDs before being vaccinated with Polio.

My questions therefore are:

Do you support forced vaccination with threat of jail or at gunpoint?  If this is happening how will you respond?

How are vaccines delivered safely in response to the manufacturers own recommendations which are not to vaccinate those with infection?

How will vaccine damage monitored and be compensated?

I look forward to your considered reply,

Many Thanks

Forced vaccinations – Rights, Reason & Reality

On Monday 18th, a toddler will be taken to the nurse for his vaccinations.  In this case it is not a normal event.  The mother is having to comply with a court order to catch up on all vaccines by the age of 2 years (11 vaccines in 8 months) on request of the absent father in a custody hearing.

How is it that the main carer can be forced to vaccinate against his or her wishes, when this ‘preventable’ medical intervention comes with high potential risks?

The Law does not walk on solid ground here.

Judges have ordered vaccinations for children when one parent fights for them in this way, usually fathers in custody hearings, but may be doing so emotively.  The non-vaccinating mother is not a pretty social picture and the judge is asked to consider that she is acting irresponsibly by the father’s lawyers.  Often GPs, not always the family GP who may have a considered opinion in the case, suggest that the mother has not adequately ‘protected’ her child or children.  The judge has always acted for the father and current medical advise.

Jayne Donegan GP was called as the family doctor to support a mother who was in this position.  Dr Donegan stated that the mother was not acting irresponsibly and went further to say that she was not putting her child in any mortal danger by not vaccinating.  The judge accused her of peddling Junk Science and promptly reported her to the GMC who bought charges of serious professional misconduct.  The judge also ordered that the child in question be forcibly vaccinated.

Jayne won her case but was asked not to discuss it by her Union and so the verdict is not common knowledge.  Perhaps it should be.  If the courts in our member’s case had been aware of the GMC summing up perhaps they would have taken a different view.

It was later ruled that indeed the rights of the main carer’s over ruled the first judgement, and the child could not be vaccinated against the mother’s will.  For a while it seemed that sense prevailed…. but unfortunately what then happened could not be undone.  2 years later the father, now with custody, took the child to a GP and vaccinated anyway….

Our first mother facing the start of so many catch up vaccines starting on Monday knows all this.  She knows that even if she wins her case under human rights as a main carer, the father’s father,  who is a GP, will just vaccinate her son anyway, if he wins custody, and if she doesn’t comply with the courts at this stage it may affect the custody outcome.

Many hearts go out to her and her son, and trust that he remains as healthy as he is today.  After all, there is no study that shows he will be healthier with all those vaccines and no doctor in the land, including Dr David Eliman, who can guarantee that an adverse reaction will not happen.

Perhaps not as shocking as 131 children vaccinated at gunpoint in, Nsanje, Africa but equally unsettling.

ADRs: Is the patient voice loud enough?

I attended the 1st International Conference on patient reporting of suspected Adverse Drug Reactions

in London in June, organised by PRIMM (Prescribing and Research in Medicines Management) and the DSRU (Drug Safety Research Unit).   It was very well organised, if not well attended.  Up to million Britons are hospitalised by prescription medicines every year, costing the NHS £2 Billion, and ADRs are the 5th leading cause of death in Europe causing £79 billion.  Tony Avery was one of dozens of professors who had written an open letter to David Cameron warning him of an epidemic of ADRs.

My eyes were opened to the vast possible life threatening and debilitating side effects from drugs whose testing is not thorough, monitoring in the Community phase 5 is poor and patient reporting is little known about.  For example, pathological gambling effect from a Parkinson medication, and suicide from an acne medication.  Prof Simon Maxwell reminded us that “All drugs are poisons depending on the dose”… may I add and dependent on the patient.

GPs have only 2-3 hours training in recognising ADRs, Pharmacology was removed by the BMA, and often GPs will just change the dose or prescribe another drug before stopping the problem drug.   Thankfully Pharmacists spot many errors in prescribing and are in the highest group of health professionals is reporting ADRs to the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency.)

7,000 prescriptions are written daily so with an error rate of 5-10% so that equates to hundreds of mistakes every day.  My personal issue is that GPs often do not follow up their prescribing and so can not effectively reflect or evaluate their professional practice.  Patients do not always cash in the prescription, or even use the drug even though taken, may have a problem with the drug but may not share this information or may share it with another GP.  Unless GPs see patients through a illness period, how can they monitor their practice?

Shelley Gandi from the MHRA told us that only 10% of ADRs are reported to them and everyone agreed that Patient Reporting is vital.  The patient was found to write a more detailed and accurate report, especially about the psychological effect and the reduced quality of life, compared to the health professional who will pick up on the life threatening effects.  Patients can of course use the Yellow Card, available on line and in most pharmacists, but less than 10% of the population is aware of this.  Promoting the Yellow Card is vital of course, but we need to share our experiences with our GPs to reduce the incidence in the first place.

My question:

“It is common for today’s babies and toddlers to be regularly ill with colds and infections, and have allergies and atopic conditions, but more worrying is that everyone thinks that this is normal.   However, parents who use few pharmaceutical products find that their children are rarely ill or immune compromised, and so are not ‘normal’.   If ill health is a side effect of combinations of vaccines, antibiotics and anti pyretics, then how can the side effects be even suspected as a result, let alone be assigned to each product?”

My Question was not answered at the conference, but was followed up with a possibility of a study by a Prof of Pharmacy and Chemistry “I do acknowledge that a combination of products makes it difficult to identify which product caused an ADR and that is the next area on which I wish to work.  It is possible that we could consider doing some epidemiological research in this area..”

That’s good.

The patients were so respected here, that’s good too.
Please see this very good site for more about ADRs
APRIL was founded by the amazing Millie Kieve who began researching for information about adverse drug reactions (ADR’s) after the tragic death of her daughter Karen in 1995.

GAVI – UK pledges £800 million ringed for vaccine aid

One minute I am outside with banners, protesting,
the next in the Press Conference.

I directed my question to the board chair of GAVI Dagfinn Hoybraten

“You have raised an extra 0.6 billion dollars today, would you consider setting up water & sanitation projects to increase health outcomes”

“NO” was the blunt answer, “we are only purchasing vaccines”.

Thankfully Sally Beck was there and asked the key question.

“The US and the UK have vaccine damage payment funds,
what will you have for the Developing World?”

“Vaccines are safe and magic” was the general reply.  There was Psychosis over the whole panel at that point.  Andrew Mitchell needs educating.

A Reuters reporter asked “How can you assure us that this is not just another way of lining the pockets of the Pharmaceutical companies?”

CBS chose the same angle…

Daniel Berman, a vaccines expert at Doctors Without Borders, said it was exciting so much money had been pledged towards saving lives. But he questioned whether the millions of taxpayer dollars would be spent properly.

“Why are we lining the pockets of big pharma like this?” Berman asked.
“That just screams conflict of interest and corporate welfare to us.”

A 2009 study published in the journal “The Lancet” showed dozens of developing countries exaggerated figures on vaccination rates, allowing them to get more money from the alliance. Researchers said these countries immunized half as many children as they claimed.

Other experts warned that donating vaccines to countries with broken health systems might mean they just end up sitting in warehouses.  “We need to be mindful of the fact that investment in vaccines is not the magic answer to global health issues such as pneumonia and diarrhea,” said Sophie Harman, a public health expert at City University in London. “Without proper funding commitments to health infrastructure…any investment in vaccines will be redundant.”

Shame the UK press did not do their investigating.  They mostly questioned if £800,000,000 for vaccine aid was fair to the UK people at a time like this, rather than questioning the whole concept.  If they want ‘value for money’ then it will be up to us to give them the data…

Working on that!


Gather from 8am to lunch time

Press conference finishes the “Saving Children’s Lives” conference at 1.30pm

Meet outside location


Question put to Bill Gates on the Save the Children Phone in..

“Each year half a million children die from diarrhoea caused by rotavirus, but
over a million die from lack of clean water and sanitation.

Vaccines may have helped reduce child deaths by 30% since 1990 but the WHO found
that mortality has reduced overall by 23% in the developing world just from the
introduction of vit A supplements.

How is the Gates Foundation getting on with your “aim to help reduce death and
disability due to micronutrient deficiencies and to prevent undernutrition in
children age 0 to 24 months in developing countries?”

And what plans will you build in for water and sanitation programs to support
your vaccine program please?

Charges of Editorial Misconduct at American Journal of Bioethics

Hilde Lindemann, former president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, has resigned as a member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Bioethics. She wrote:

“While the journal has been hugely successful, there seems to be no oversight or accountability, so it is difficult for board members to know very much about the review process, the acceptance rate, the rate of submission, the journal’s financial footing, who owns (as opposed to publishes) the journal, and other matters having to do with its day-to-day operations. I do not know who sits on the conflict of interest committee even though the Information for Authors page says it is “comprised [sic] of members of the editorial board.” And although the editor-in-chief has said he would disclose the financials of the journal, he has not done so — at least, not to me. The board is never called to meet; we are never consulted as a group in any meaningful fashion. It’s not even clear who chooses the board, or on what basis. So it seems that our good names go toward a journal that we know very little about.

I have been an editor myself for much of my adult life and I know what the pressure of deadlines can do to distort editorial judgment. But I also know that it’s possible to run a journal transparently and responsibly, and I no longer feel confident that AJOB is so run. Until that changes, I cannot lend my name to its masthead.”

HPA warns of considerable risk of contracting measles

…sent to the HPA
Please justify the use of the word
considerable in your statement “there is considerable risk of catching measles if they are not protected”

There are 3 million such children made up of nearly 2 million totally unvaccined and a million without full boosters.  Actually, the confirmed cases of measles is very small at 20 per month in England and Wales (From the HPA site) so I would suggest that the chances of an ‘unprotected’ child contracting measles very small.

2010* 4th 370# 456 123.2% 33 7.2%
2010* 3rd 579# 645 111.4% 132 20.5%
2010* 2nd 736 639 86.8% 68 10.6%
2010* 1st 543 446 82.1% 10 2

Please also provide figures for the “serious consequences” from measles as I can’t seem to find any.  There were just 19 complications in 2007 for mumps but it is impossible to find out the type and serious nature of the complications.  The HPA said they ” are unable to provide this information to you as it falls under deductive disclosure due to a smaller dataset, and we would be in breach of patient confidentiality if this information is disclosed.”.

I understand that the role of the HPA is to reduce the spread of disease, however, this letter implies that if a child is not vaccinated then they are at considerable risk of contracting Measles when the data does not support this.

Many thanks…

….The reply was that they were acting within national policy… well that’s OK then!

With 2 million children under 18 years old totally unvaccinated and a further million children not ‘fully protected’ with just one jab, the several hundred confirmed measles cases each year year is akin to the risk of being struck by lightening.  With 1 in 15 complications with measles reported in the Green Book, I am guessing that again, like mumps complications, the subset will be too small to release data for.  I wonder if the 1 in 15 complications are taken from the UK of the states, which is significant.

In whom we trust…European Medicines Agency

European Parliament refuses to approve European Medicines Agency accounts

Adam Smith
Science and Communications Officer, ANH-Intl

European Parliamentarians have refused to sign off the European Medicines Agency’s accounts, citing “grave” concerns
The MEPs are worried about the Agency’s lack of independence from pharmaceutical companies
The Nordic Cochrane Centre accuses the Agency of working to protect pharmaceutical profits
This is among several signs of MEPs increasingly questioning aspects of the European Union’s stance aspects relating to natural healthcare

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have bared their teeth in no uncertain manner over the independence of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the body entrusted to determine the safety and effectiveness of drugs in the European Union (EU).

In a damning indictment of the EMA, of the type many people had despaired of ever witnessing in the closed environment of the European Parliament, an overwhelming majority of MEPs – 637 to 4! – voted not to sign off on the EMA’s accounts.

MEPs said that there appears to be no proper guarantee of the independence of experts hired to carry out scientific evaluations of pharmaceutical drugs. Furthermore, MEPs believe that some of the experts involved in evaluating drugs have conflicting interests and that the EMA’s hiring practices are dubious and indicate further conflicts of interest, in particular the way in which they get funding and spend public money.

Back To Main Website