JABS writes...

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JABS Briefing Note 9th April 2008 GMC disciplinary hearing into Dr Andrew Wakefield, Professor Simon Murch and Professor John Walker-Smith

JABS note:

On Wednesday September 8, 2004 the Guardian published an article by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick entitled 'Jabs and junk science' and the caption said:  'Parents-led anti-vaccination groups are becoming hugely influential. But the information they provide is often extremely dodgy.' JABS was refused a right to reply so we have included our response to Dr Fitzpatrick below.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1299553,00.html 8 th September 2004

Re: Jabs and Junk Science by Michael Fitzpatrick ( 8 September 2004 )

In the above article Dr Fitzpatrick refers to and misrepresents the JABS group when speaking of anti-vaccination groups and anti-immunisation campaigns implying that our group is part of such action. I would like to make it clear to your readers that JABS is a support group for parents of vaccine-damaged children and therefore all the parents within the group have taken their children to be vaccinated. May I emphasise our group is anti-damage . We want a safe childhood vaccination programme.

Dr Fitzpatrick claims “There is in fact no validated scientific evidence of such a link [between MMR vaccine, bowel disease and other neurological problems], despite a six-year quest to find it, and a mountain of evidence against it (anecdote is not evidence).”

Dr Fitzpatrick seems to be oblivious to the fact that MMR drug companies provide data sheets which are virtually identical to each other. These data sheets state the minor side effects which doctors are happy to share with parents: namely - rashes, raised temperature etc. These same sheets also include the reactions publicly acknowledged by the Health Protection Agency e.g. febrile convulsions, blood disorders - ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) but the data sheets also spell out the severe adverse events. To name but a few, these include: diarrhoea, nerve deafness, arthritis, Guillain-Barre syndrome (a paralysis syndrome), severe vision problems, seizures and encephalitis. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can lead to a range of disabilities such as epilepsy, loss of speech and communication and acquired autism.

Many of the children in the JABS group have had an Urabe mumps-containing MMR vaccine which is known specifically to be linked with neurological problems. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, even now, will not allow this particular strain of mumps vaccine to be imported into this country because of the risk of serious neurological problems. Yet between 1988, when MMR was introduced into the national immunisation programme, and 1992 it was given to thousands of children as it was present in two out of the three versions of the MMR vaccine then available.

In 1992 these two brands of Urabe-containing vaccine were withdrawn by the Chief Medical Officer as Urabe strain mumps had been found in the cerebral spinal fluid of British children after they were hospitalized with meningitis.

Families in Japan have won substantial damages in court for their MMR vaccine-damaged children against the manufacturers of this particular strain of mumps vaccine.

Measles vaccine virus has also been found in the spinal fluid of neurologically damaged children involved in the MMR class action which has now been stopped pending appeals. Why aren't the Department of Health's vaccine officers keen to investigate and clinically examine these children?

Vaccine damage can and does happen; our Government's Vaccine Damage Payment Unit is testimony to this. Instead of working with parents whose children have been damaged  Dr Fitzpatrick condemns parents who raise issues of safety and dare to speak up on behalf of their damaged children. Parents quite rightly will no longer be brushed aside by doctors who hold up epidemiological studies as proof of vaccine safety and refuse to conduct clinical studies of the children involved. (A study published last week by Goldman and Yazbak reassesses the data from a Danish epidemiological study and concludes that there is a higher risk of autism in children who are vaccinated with MMR. This clearly contradicts the original findings). JABS maintains that it is wrong to use only epidemiological studies as scientific proof of safety for the MMR vaccine.

Dr Fitzpatrick also cites JABS as having links with commercial interests and quotes the law firm helping families as an example. This point of criticism is bizarre. How else is a family supposed to make a claim for a long term care package for their vaccine-damaged child against the might of the pharmaceutical industry without representation from an experienced law firm?  Are parents supposed to roll over and just accept their child's brain damage because it's for the benefit of the wider community? Get real Dr Fitzpatrick! 

It would be in everyone's interest for vaccine-damaged children to be compensated through our own Vaccine Damage Payment Unit if the pharmaceutical industry contributed to the scheme, as in the USA , rather than the taxpayer.

The “demoralising effect” felt by parents which Dr Fitzpatrick wrongly lays at JABS door, is as a result of the Legal Services Commission withdrawing legal aid certificates following a general decision made at their office in London rather than a personal objective assessment of the children's individual cases. It is this that is demoralising and unfair. The initial legal aid certificate had been granted for the children based on the merits of the individual case. To remove legal aid should involve the same procedure.

Finally Dr Fitzpatrick accuses parents of arrogance in criticising “government for refusing to concede to the demands arising from their personal experience” and “disparaging the experience of millions, generalised in the studies on which immunisation policy is based.”

It is not arrogance that drives the parents but concern for their - and other people's - children. Pre-license trials for vaccine programmes are known to be too short and too small to pick up the ‘rare' events. The post-vaccine surveillance system is known by the Department of Health to be wholly inadequate – this means vaccine adverse events are very rarely reported and therefore do not show in epidemiological studies. Parents whose children have been through the vaccine programme and believed to have been damaged are criticised for raising concerns. The parents' eye witness accounts are referred to as anecdotes.

In reality, the parents know their children best, even better than Dr Fitzpatrick seems to do. Has he met all these thousands of damaged children, and investigated in detail their individual damage, and carefully listened to the accounts of their parents? They watched their children regress, and yet these first-hand observations have been ignored. The first rule in clinical medicine is "listen to the patient". Dr Fitzpatrick appears to be making a name for himself by seemingly overruling these parents, a high risk strategy on his part, that could backfire badly if those parents are eventually, one day, finally proved right.

Jackie Fletcher

Founder/National Co-ordinator JABS (Justice Awareness & Basic Support)

Tel: 01942 713565

1 Gawsworth Road, Golborne, Warrington, Cheshire WA3 3RF

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