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The Centers for Disease Control have issued guidelines for 2009 Novel H1N1 vaccination. Included in the priority groups are:

  • All persons aged 6 months to 24 years
  • Caregivers of children < 6 months
  • Pregnant women
  • Health care providers
  • People age 25-64 years with high-risk medical conditions.

The September 3, 2009 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reported that of the 36 children with a confirmed 2009 H1N1 infection who died between April and early August 2009, twenty-four had chronic medical conditions that have been recognized to increase the risk of complications from seasonal influenza.  In particular, many children had neurodevelopmental conditions, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and developmental delay. (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5834a1.htm). 

One of the authors of this report, Dr. Georgina Peacock of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, says that the majority of these children had neurodevelopmental disabilities that left them at risk for pulmonary compromise — this would include children that may have trouble clearing secretions, protecting their airway or difficulties coughing. In addition, almost all of the children had more than one neurodevelopmental problem, such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy.  Thus there is not a specific priority vaccination group for individuals with developmental delay or other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Dr. Peacock added that there has not been any prioritization for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine within the priority groups and stressed that all children and young adults should be vaccinated for 2009  H1N1 influenza  when it becomes available. In addition, children should be up to date on their pneumococcal vaccine–this would include the 7-valent vaccine (Prevnar) for children under 2  (which is part of routine vaccinations )  and  additionally  the 23-valent vaccine  (Pneumovax)  for children greater than 2 with a high-risk medical condition.  This will help to protect against some types of pneumonia, which a complication that can develop after influenza infection. 

If children who are in one of the higher risk groups develop flu-like symptoms, including a fever, sore throat and/or cough, parents should contact their child’s doctor or seek medical attention.  Parents should talk to a doctor early if worried about their child’s illness .  There are anti-viral medications that can be helpful in treating influenza especially when started early.

What About Thimerosal?

According to the CDC, the 2009 novel H1N1 influenza vaccines that FDA is licensing will be manufactured in several formulations. Some will come in multi-dose vials and will contain thimerosal as a preservative. Multi-dose vials of seasonal influenza vaccine also contain thimerosal to prevent potential contamination after the vial is opened.

Some vaccine manufacturers will be producing novel H1N1 influenza vaccine in single-dose units, which will not require the use of thimerosal as a preservative. In addition, the live-attenuated version of the vaccine, which is administered intranasally (through the nose), is produced in single-units and will not contain thimerosal.

Since 2001, no new vaccine licensed by FDA for use in children has contained thimerosal as a preservative, and all vaccines routinely recommended by CDC for children under six years of age have been thimerosal-free, or contain only trace amounts, except for multi-dose formulations of influenza vaccine. This was done as a precautionary step and not because there was evidence confirming that thimerosal-containing vaccines were causing health problems. The most recent and rigorous scientific research does not support the hypothesis that thimerosal-containing vaccines are harmful.  

Thimerosal is an important preservative that protects vaccines against potential microbial contamination, which may occur in opened multi-dose vials of vaccine. Such contamination could cause serious illness or death. Since seasonal influenza vaccine is produced in large quantities for annual immunization campaigns, some of the vaccine is produced in multi-dose vials, and contains thimerosal to safeguard against possible contamination of the vial once it is opened.

Three leading federal agencies (CDC, FDA, and NIH) have reviewed the published research on thimerosal and found it to be a safe product to use in vaccines. Three independent organizations (The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)) reviewed the published research and also found thimerosal to be a safe product to use in vaccines.

Nonetheless, the presence of the preservative thimerosal in vaccines and suggestions of a relationship to autism has raised concerns. Since 2001, no new vaccine licensed by FDA for use in children has contained thimerosal as a preservative,  and all vaccines routinely recommended by CDC for children under six years of age have been thimerosal-free, or contain only trace amounts, except for some formulations of influenza vaccine, and yet, we have not seen reductions in the numbers of children diagnosed with autism, indicating that the cause of autism is not related to thimerosal. 

H1N1 influenza vaccine is expected to have a similar safety profile to seasonal flu vaccines, which have a very good safety track record. Data from novel H1N1 trials among children are not available yet.

According to current federal plans, only unadjuvanted vaccines will be used in the United States during the 2009 flu season. This includes all of the 2009 H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccines that will be available for children and adults in both the injectable and nasal spray formulations. Original plans for novel H1N1 vaccine referenced possible use of the adjuvant squalene, but this is no longer necessary given that testing showed that single dose H1N1 vaccination produced a stronger than expected immune response, thus reducing the need to “stretch” the amount of antigen available to the public by adding adjuvant to the vaccines.

For more information on 2009 H1N1 influenza, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu

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Dr. Eric London has announced his resignation from the Autism Speaks Scientific Affairs Committee.  London is the Director of the Autism Treatment Laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities. He is also Chief Scientific Advisor of the New York State Autism Consortium and a member of the Autism Science Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.  He is the co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR).  

Dr. London’s letter of resignation is below:

After three years of great hopes for Autism Speaks being the optimal vehicle to advance autism science and treatment, I regretfully and sadly must announce my dissociation from this organization, including resignation from the Scientific Affairs Committee.

Despite the very excellent work that Autism Speaks has done in the area of awareness and legal advocacy, there are many differences which I have with the organization, mostly concerning the direction and prioritization of the science program. There have been numerous decisions made which I believe have adversely impacted autism research and none of those decisions were made upon the advice of the Scientific Affairs Committee. The processes with which science decisions have been made have been contrary to my hopes and expectations when the NAAR-AS merger was effectuated.


If this were the only issue, I might have continued to try to work from within the organization to influence science policy and direction. However, the pivotal issue compelling my decision is the position which Autism Speaks is taking concerning vaccinations.  The arguments which Dr. Dawson and others assert– that the parents need even further assurances and there might be rare cases of “biologically plausible” vaccine involvement –are misleading and disingenuous.  Through its website and other communications, Autism Speaks has been influential and contributory in encouraging parents’ doubts.  By preferentially investing and advocating for the use of limited financial resources on the “biological plausibility” argument, the organization is adversely impacting the advancement of autism research.

Recent reports have documented significant outbreaks of measles and other infectious diseases which could have been controlled and even eradicated.  The lowering of the vaccination rate has already led to deaths.  If Autism Speaks’ misguided stance continues, there will be more deaths and potentially the loss of herd immunity which would result in serious outbreaks of otherwise preventable disease.  I further fear that if and when herd immunity is lost, there may be a societal backlash against the autism community.
 
In my role as an Autism Speaks Scientific Affairs Committee member, I would be lending credibility to an organization whose scientific agenda and positions I can no longer ethically support. Please accept my resignation, effective immediately.  If anyone would like to discuss this with me further, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Sincerely, Eric London MD
 
Read more about autism and vaccines here
 

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Proceeds from sales of Autism's False Prophets support the Autism Science Foundation

Proceeds from sales of Autism's False Prophets support the Autism Science Foundation

By Robin Hausman Morris

 

Punch drunk as I am, required to read every alert regarding vaccine injury, I was struck by the facts issued on WKRG.com News 5. Reported by Kesshia Peyton, who interviewed Dr. Paul Offit, there is a surge of parents who are very angry at the diversion that anti-vaccine activists have created.

Tina Brown, mother of 2 boys with autism, decided not to vaccinate son Dylan because his brother Dalton had been inoculated and was subsequently diagnosed with autism. Sadly, even in the absence of vaccines Dylan demonstrated symptoms of autism at 4 months of age. (video interview is below). Mrs. Brown believes that there is great need for research in environmental, genetic, and DNA reasons for the onset of autism. She is part of a growing number of parents who want answers, other than the constant mention of vaccine injury.

Dr. Offit, author of Autism False Prophets, believes that “those who oppose vaccines have taken the autism story hostage”. He agrees that there is profiteering and quackery in this arena. It is the fundamental action of false prophets, to entice and recruit vulnerable families. Frankly, I agree, but “snake oil” medicine is not relegated to autism. Parents need to be vigilant and at the same time practical about the information that is presented. Sometimes it is very painful to tease our emotions from clarity of thought. We so desperately need a reason, a cure, a miracle, our focus is skewed, and ultimately our children are victims again. I don’t have the answers, but I sure want them. Now.

 
Robin Morris is the mother of adult quadruplets, one of whom is diagnosed with autism. Her son has been viewed as “pioneer,” as therapists utilized behavioral interventions with him nearly 20 years ago. Robin’s efforts to elevate autism awareness and support autism research prompted her to join the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) in 2002. Her son’s team, “Paulie’s Promise,” raised several thousand dollars for the premier Walk Far for NAAR in her area. In 2006, NAAR merged with the Autism Speaks. Robin currently writes for Examiner.com and Autism Spectrum News.

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