I grew up in Boston, and am old enough to recall when the Catholic Church adamantly denied the sex scandal. Priests harming children? Sex abuse? No one wanted it to be true, and so it was easier to swallow the denials than to believe the children and adults whose lives were altered forever and who had the courage to speak out. That is, until the injured parties brought forth so much proof that the Church had to do its own digging and Catholics had to open their eyes and say, "My good God, the children and parents were right." The Church has survived and programs are in place to avoid going back to those dark times.
The November issue of Wired Magazine included a cover story titled, Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All, about vaccination. Wired, "The magazine of the digital future" writing about vaccination? The only digit here is Dr. Offit waving his middle finger at the vaccine safety community.
The article, written by Amy Wallace, a Yale graduate and freelance writer who is also a former entertainment reporter, begins, "To hear his enemies talk, you might think Paul Offit is the most hated man in America. A pediatrician in Philadelphia, he is the coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine that could save tens of thousands of lives every year."
That sets up the article, which is a really a long press release designed to make Dr. Offit look like an heroic martyr. It's also an opportunity to attack vaccine safety advocates (many of whom are in the autism community and are parents of vaccine injured children) by making them sound like dangerous crazy people.
Ms. Wallace writes about Dr. Offit, "... he boldly states - that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them."
I can boldly state that I am a 5'10" blonde with a 36C chest too. (Mirror check. Not so much.) Author and HuffPo blogger David Kirby has written extensively on the national push among federal health officials, scientists, research organizations and doctors on the need to further examine vaccine safety. His post titled, US Health Officials Back Study Idea on Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated Children - Will Media Take Note? included this:
On Friday, February 27, a special group convened by The Keystone Center on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Vaccine Advisory Committee Vaccine Safety Working Group (NVAC VSWG) recommended appointing a panel of experts to explore the strengths and weaknesses of conducting studies on health outcomes in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations. The group, known as the "Salt Lake City Writing Group," said it was "desirable" to include autism as one such health outcome.
As they stated in a draft "consensus statement": (There is) a strong desire to study the health impact of the immunization schedule, potentially through a 'vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study'. Outcomes to assess include biomarkers of immunity and metabolism, and outcomes including but not limited to neurodevelopmental outcomes, allergies, asthma, immune-mediated diseases, and learning disabilities. The inclusion of autism as an outcome is desired"
Will the media take note? No. Because Dr. Offit, as the Pope of the Church of the Immaculate Vaccination is going to continue to evangelize that vaccines are infallible. His skillful use of the media has made them the clergy who will protect his Church, even at the cost of children's health and future. Dr. Nancy Snyderman has been on TV daily berating Americans to get their H1N1 vaccine. She ended one interview by saying, "Forget the hysteria. Just get the damn vaccine!" When questioned by Matt Lauer about the vaccine/autism controversy, she replied, "There is no controversy Matt." Really? Check out Bill Maher's post Vaccines: A Conversation Worth Having with over 3000 comments.
The vitriol toward people who question vaccines or who report vaccine injury is startling. I had a commenter come into Age of Autism and tell us, "I hope you and all of your progeny die from otherwise easily preventable viral diseases."
Here's a fine comment from the Wired article:
Disgusting, these losers can't allow themselves to think it was their own rotten genetics that brought these mental diseases to their children so they have to blame someone else. Why this kind of shit only happens in the USA and the most primitive and backwards places on Earth?
It makes me wonder if Dr. Offit doesn't have biology on his side, the way the Catholic Church had two thousand years of respect and fear on its own.
For as long as homo sapiens have walked the earth, until just about sixty years ago when vaccinations came into wide use, mothers and fathers buried as many or more children than they raised to young adulthood. Perhaps we're biologically programmed to want to protect our children to such a degree that unless we've been badly burned, we simply can not wrap our heads around the concept that the very medicine designed to save our children, so that we can raise them past infancy, could be causing harm.
As long as magazines like Wired are willing to give Dr. Offit an open pulpit from which to preach, the gospel according to Paul will remain intact, and we members of the vaccine safety advocacy community will remain the heretics seated in the pews of the Church of the Poisoned Mind.