The Reason for the Autism-Vaccine Injury Press Conference

Courtesy: Ustream

Earlier today, the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy (EBCALA) held a press conference on the steps of the US Court of Federal Claims and presented the findings of an investigation of the “Vaccine Court” settlements paid out to families that had experienced vaccine injuries.

The peer-reviewed study looked at cases of vaccine-injured families that have been monetarily compensated by the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). It was published today in the Pace Environmental Law Review and investigated cases that were ruled in favor of the plaintiffs dealing specifically with childhood brain injuries as a result of vaccinations that also made reference to autism, its symptoms or other disorders associated with it.

What they found was that 21 cases specifically referenced autism or “autism-like symptoms” in court records. The researchers identified and contacted another 150 more compensated families and found that 62 of those cases also had autism, resulting in 83 cases in total.

Keeping an open mind with a lack of bias, this raises several questions. I would like to address some key points and present them as though this was the first time someone has heard of the autism-vaccine controversy altogether.

  •   Is a settlement really proof of anything?

By its very definition, a settlement, whether in or out of court, is just that. Both parties settle with each other and no finding is made, no one is a winner and there is typically no definitive proof or admission wrongdoing. As such, whether you have a settlement case for or against a family, nothing is actually proved or disproved. It simply indicates that an agreement was reached.

  • What is the difference between “has autism," “causes autism," and “autism-like symptoms?"

In the study, as well as the resulting media coverage, there needs to be a distinction between whether or not the vaccines specifically caused autism in the plaintiff families or if it caused something else similar to autism or if the child had autism regardless of the vaccines.

Nowhere in the study or in any of the court settlements does it state that autism was caused by vaccinations. It does however, state that some children developed “autism-like symptoms," which could or could not specifically be autism itself.

Additionally, the study started with 1,300 cases and found 83 confirmed cases diagnosed with autism. That certainly puts it higher than the current 1 in 110 CDC estimates but it’s still a small enough percentage of the total group. The question then becomes, if autism is genetic and 1 in 110 develops it, wouldn’t an identical percentage of the vaccine-injured children also have autism?

  • The actual purpose of the press conference

What I fear will happen with a lot of the media, which is happening already, is that this press conference will be used as “proof” of an autism-vaccine link, sparking further “anti-vaccine” sentiment among parents who fear for their children’s health.

As I watched things unfold on Ustream, I also paid attention to the chat room and its messages. 

In the press conference, parents gave heart-wrenching testimonies and explained their situation, but also clearly indicated that they were pro-safety advocates. Each one of them said, and I quote, “I want to make it clear that I’m not anti-vaccine.”

However, that sentiment did not translate into the chat room as many visitors would shout (via all caps) “I’M ANTI-VACCINE!," and even some repeatedly claiming that “vaccines don’t work!” The message is not the same and further clouds the debate.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield himself has been quoted as saying, "I’ve not said, ‘Don’t get vaccinated.’ I strongly advocate for the use of single vaccines.”

It is very important for people to realize that even though the safety of vaccines has been put into question, it is not advised that parents stop vaccinating their children altogether.

And contrary to what has been reported by some, today’s press conference was not "proof" of a link between autism and vaccines, nor was it intended to make anyone stop vaccinating their children. It was a passionate call to Congress and vaccine manufacturers to do proper research and make vaccines safer, as well as have the government provide better services and compensation for families that have suffered vaccine-related injuries.

14 Responses to The Reason for the Autism-Vaccine Injury Press Conference

  1. K says:

    It’s all a play on words….no – this is not “proof” of a link…..but don’t insult intelligence by saying that “autism like symptoms” is any different than autism. I am still flabbergasted that anyone can admit that vaccines can cause seizures, encephalopathy and other brain injuries….but it is INCONCEIVABLE that they could cause autism. Get your head out of the sand….

  2. Lydia says:

    A court case settlement is proof. It sets case precedent. That is wayyyyyy more than two sides coming to an agreement. Both sides can get passionate and down right irrational about this issue. You bad talk to anti vaxxers but I have seen so much worse coming from those who put people who choose not to vaccinate in the same category as baby murderers. K is right-get your head out of the sand. And I will be unliking your page asap.

  3. Tracey NH says:

    Thank you once again for trying to bring some reason and perspective to this topic. Too many ppl are so quick to believe anything they read on the internet, without looking at all sides of the argument, that vaccines have become the modern-day equivalent of the witchcraft hysteria from 400 years ago. Your work and efforts to educate do not go unappreciated!

  4. Very Interesting point of view and thats the way i had perceived the conference when i viewed it too. Those cases had severe brain injuries. If these people had read your earlier blog about the physical damage that mercury poisoning does to children. We are just dependent on the specialists, Researchers, and professionals such as the NIH, and CDC. I sure hope that Congress does look at what the FDA is investigating with the additives, preservatives,pesticides and dyes that is linked to ADHD Dr. Rubin Jordan discovered that. You in no way insulted anyone’s intelligence just voiced your own opinion and there is nothing wrong with that.

  5. tricia says:

    I am not against vaccinations but I really believe the amount these children get before 5 is way too many and 4-5 at one time is crazy! These are toxins we put in immature bodies! We didnt have half these vaccinations when I was growing up! I do believe there is a genetic dispositon but something is triggering it to happen and its not better dx. unless maybe a mild form. My son is 12 and the damage is done! I just want answers and protection for our future! 1 and 110 is too many! What are we gonna do when they reach adulthood??? My son is 12 nonverbal and will need assistance the rest of his life! Parents just want support and resourses to help their children and the chance to be productive citizens!

  6. Autism Key says:

    Lydia, I didn’t see anywhere in this article where anyone was “bad talked.” Additionally, our articles include commentary from various authors with different opinions. As a result, not every story is going to line up with your viewpoints.

  7. Autism Maven says:

    Thanks for presenting a clear, rational view of the issue. While we all want to discover the cause(s), we all need to keep focused on working together to help our kids get what they need. That surely cannot be made any easier if we take sides on an issue that is out of our control. Let’s keep our focus on helping each other and our kids. Thanks for all you do.

  8. Navi says:

    Autism is a spectrum. EVERYONE has some “autism like symptoms.” They get called “autism like symptoms” when they are similar to, but not exactly, autism. OCD is an autism like symptom. It’s not autism, but it’s like it.

    That said, no the vaccine injured would NOT have to have the same percentage for it to be genetic. Any more than it would make epilepsy not genetic because a higher number of autistics have epilepsy than the general population… correlation does not equal causation.

    also – seizures caused by vaccines occur in 1/30,000 shots. One person out of 30,000, will get a fever, and have a subsequent seizure caused by that fever. The fact that they have found NO conclusive evidence that vaccines cause autism is because they can’t even find a 1/30,000 link…

    also 1/110 covers autism across the spectrum. IE My oldest, whose school psychologist performed a thorough evaluation and listed that it was unlikely that she had asperger’s, even though a resident psychiatrist evaluated her as having asperger’s. Children like her are included in that 1/110, right along with her 8 year old brother, who doesn’t talk, is not potty trained, etc, etc.

    Being that autism is a set of symptoms, vaccines cannot cause autism. Whether or not they can cause autism like symptoms, hasn’t been studied. However, I think it’d be far more useful to study whether or not seizures cause autism, or other things that affect a much larger percentage of those with autism. Seizure, clinically, affect 40% of children with autism… that’s, well, much, much higher than the general population … such a study would NOT explain my son’s autism, but then, being that he has disaccharidase deficiency and untreated malabsorption of sugars can result in mental retardation… well he probably is a unique case… As much as I would love more research into his disorder, it’s just not going to help the most people affected by it.

  9. Charlynn says:

    Very well written and “worded” artical. I think you are one of a few people that has his head high about the sand. As in Autism some people only see things black and white and as in Autism no matter how much reasoning you try with them it just wont work. I have great concerns about the “anit vaccine” folks out there. I have two beautiful daughters with Autism that I wouldnt change for the world. I definatly would rather deal with autism then a terminal desease anyday. Please vaccinate your kiddos as I want my “autistic” kids to cont to have a full life.

  10. Heather says:

    I agree with the first commenter: if vaccines can cause all sorts of brain injury, it is illogical to conclude that vaccines couldn’t possibly cause autism (especially since they don’t have any other idea what causes autism).

    The issue is not vaccines vs. no vaccines: it is “insufficiently tested/unsafe vaccine schedule” vs. “well-tested safe vaccine schedule.” If there is this much uncertainty and doubt about whether our vaccines are currently safe, then something is wrong.

    Please note that a lot of the parents who have serious concerns about whether vaccines contributed to their children’s autism are very well-educated people. They are MBAs, lawyers, nurses, doctors and researchers who were very well-respected — before they questioned vaccines.

  11. This isn’t about the possibility of there being a link between autism and vaccine. Not once in the article did I say that there wasn’t or that you shouldn’t question it.

    The point of the article is that it is not definitive proof (as some people have claimed it is) nor does it suggest that people stop vaccinating.

    There’s no need to be defensive about this, it’s simply an observation about the real purpose of this press conference… which was to make Congress do more research and ensure we have safer vaccines.

  12. birdness says:

    I’m not good with conversions, what exactly is the safe dose of mercury for a person weighing less than 20 pounds?

    My daughter had vaccines, she got sick, she still has autism.

  13. al7 says:

    i studdied this vaccine scheme alot ,as i’m a NHL patient . in case you haven’t heard, andy whitfield (sparticus) the 39y old actor just died in treatment for NHL.the more i learn about vaccines the more its beginning to look like an extermination system . my vaccine history is not so extensive ,because i began resisting vaccines at age 12. i had few “shots” after this . the mmr was the 1st time i declined . think about it !!i’m 59 and doing ok in spite of the fact that i been living with cancer all these decades . al7

  14. Rev. Derek J Brown says:

    The million dollar question needs to be asked….. If vaccines aren’t the cause then why settle? If you sue me and I have not harmed you I’ll tell you to hit the bricks not settle with you for millions. As far as parsing words regarding “autism like symptoms” and “autism” let’s be real people….if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck……Aflac… Let’s use our common sense instead of being sheeple…. medical science, the government, and the economy could not handle the lawsuits if they admitted the truth…..that’s why they parse words….I should know….words are a major part of my profession

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