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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

CDC Claims Commitment to Protecting Nation's Children

Yet Continues to Evade Hard Questions on Thimerosal
Wed Jul 20, 10:30 AM ET

To: National Desk, Health and Medical Reporter
Contact: Stephanie Morris, 202-628-7772
or smorris@venturecommunications.com

WASHINGTON, July 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following statement was issued today by 8 national autism and vaccine safety organizations including SafeMinds, National Autism Association, NoMercury, MomsAgainstMercury, Unlocking Autism, NVIC, Dads Against Mercury, and CoMed. The statement was issued in response to the secret press conference held by the CDC extolling vaccine benefits while denying any role of the vaccine preservative thimerosal in autism:

As a group of national organizations focused on uncovering the truth about thimerosal and autism, we have repeatedly heard the claim made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that they are committed "to protecting the health of children in this nation and around the world". Yet we cannot help but continue to question this claim and to question the CDC's true intentions in making such claims when their leadership repeatedly refuses to acknowledge the extensive scientific evidence on links between the mercury-based vaccine preservative, thimerosal, and autism.

Today's press conference was just one more example of such denial without substance. The conference's main message emphasized the benefits of vaccines in fighting infectious diseases, while the real question that parents have - what did thimerosal do to children? - was left unanswered. The conference speakers wanted to reassure parents that thimerosal is now gone from the routine vaccines except the influenza shot, so it is safe to vaccinate today, but they had little to reassure parents whose children received vaccines with thimerosal prior to 2002. We found it most curious that the press conference was held the day before an autism rally in the Capital which will focus on connections between thimerosal in vaccines and autism. In fact, the first question posed by a reporter at the press conference was related to what motivated the CDC to hold such a press conference now when no "new news" on the issue was being released.

Though Dr. Gerberding, the Director of the CDC, claimed that "keeping an open mind" is important and that she "can't say with 100 percent certainty that (they will) never find a link" between thimerosal and autism, her comments, as well as those made by five other speakers, focused on telling the media that the scientific evidence shows no such link, while failing to offer any new research that would confirm this opinion. This opinion remains based on the 2004 IOM report which relied on epidemiology studies with major methodological flaws, all conducted and funded by vaccine/public health insiders with a conflict of interest. That report is now a year old, and the authorities have come up with no new evidence.

In addition, a number of speakers cited factual errors and misleading statements, for example:

-- Dr. Duane Alexander of NICHD stated that his agency was diligently studying the environmental causes of autism, although NIH has refused to fund qualified researchers who are trying to investigate the effects of thimerosal.

-- Dr. Murray Lumpkin of the FDA spoke about the vaccine manufacturers' final switch to thimerosal free vaccines in 2001, yet he still failed to quantify for the public when the older thimerosal vaccines were actually used up by pediatricians, given that the shelf life of a vaccine manufactured in 2001 can extend to 2003.

-- Dr. Alexander cited the National Children's Study as a primary means through which environmental causes of autism will be uncovered, but this study has yet to be funded by Congress, is a prospective study that won't yield data on autism for many years, and will only study children who have not been exposed to thimerosal.

Dr. Gerberding also claimed that the CDC has "spent a long time this year listening to parents" and that she agrees with their demands that the government needs to be doing more on this issue. But despite these claims that Dr. Gerberding is "listening to parents," and despite repeated demands for open communication with the autism community, the CDC did not invite any autism groups to speak (including the 13 organizations involved in the July 20th rally), nor did they share copies of what was presented with these groups, nor were any autism representatives allowed into the press conference room. We continue to be appalled by this blatant lack of transparency and attempts to manipulate the media.

We also continue to be dismayed and disheartened by the CDC's lack of cooperation with national autism organizations. The representatives from autism organizations present in Washington had to watch the press conference via screen TV in a separate room inside HHS, while others were only able to listen in by phone after getting the phone number through unofficial channels. Those who attended in person were there as a showing of solid force and to communicate that the government cannot continue to conduct research studies or hold such press conferences without the involvement of the autism community.

If the CDC is truly concerned about building and maintaining public trust in our vaccine program and achieving high childhood immunization rates, then they must begin taking real action on this issue by committing to funding credible research that includes studies comparing American populations which did or did not receive thimerosal vaccines, investigations of clinical treatments that parents are finding successful which address mercury exposures, and biomedical assessments of autistic children themselves Such studies are the only way we will be able to confirm or refute an association between thimerosal and autism, and such studies are the only way we will be able to maintain public trust in vaccines.

/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Posted by Helen

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