A Healthy and Happy New Year to one and all!
As we have another opportunity to live into one more year, it is my hope that among the many daily responsibilities we have, that each of us will resolve to take at least one action a month regarding voluntary vaccination. You will soon see and understand why.
I have decided to start the New Year of my installments with one on U.S. Agencies involved with vaccination. Although we usually hear predominately of a few (such as the CDC), there are many—in fact, the whole government, for in the 1990’s, President Bill Clinton signed an order that all agencies of the government promote vaccination. That “interagency cooperation” filtered down to the states, and an Interagency Memo was sent to New York State agencies by the governor. I am certain other state governors did the same.
In addition to Government agencies promoting vaccines, they link up or fund “parent groups”—now called “astroturfs” and not really “grass roots” groups as they have been traditionally defined. (The National Vaccine Information Center is truly the only nationwide grassroots parent group on vaccination).
When you consider, then, all these people actively working FOR vaccines, you can see what our side is up against! Besides having passionate people pushing vaccines, Congress gives out $400 Billion each year in Federal aid to State, local and tribal governments (according to articles on the 2010 Census) and a large amount of that goes for vaccinations and vaccine research, public health departments, etc.
Below are some of the groups that are on the Federal or governmental level and intertwined with them:
The Department of Health & Human Services is the umbrella for the governmental agencies that deal with immunizations. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is the prime one we hear about. But then there is: The National Immunization Program, which puts out “Immunization Action News” and is part of the CDC, but can be quoted separately when we read news articles. (In the 1990’s, Walter Orenstein was director of the National Immunization Program and pushed President Clinton’s Comprehensive Childhood Immunization Initiative (CCII). They also put out kits every year for “National Infant Immunization Week” in April. The kits include community guides for activities, working with the media and collaborating with business and “charting your success.” The kit provides immunization facts in a number of languages, posters, and print ads.
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (part of the Public Health Service) provides “guidance” to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the CDC Director. ACIP is composed of 15 members selected by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Many of their members then go on to work for drug companies or they are working on developing various new vaccines, etc. –the “revolving door.” They develop written recommendations for routine administration of vaccines to children and adults in the civilian population. They are the ONLY entity in the Federal government that makes such recommendations. Their next meeting is February 24-25 at the CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd., N.E. in Atlanta. They meet 3 times a year (February, June, October), and the meetings are open to the public.
The National Vaccine Program was established in 1986 by the Public Health Service Act to achieve optimal prevention of infectious disease through immunization and optimal prevention of adverse reactions to vaccines. That group coordinates among Federal agencies and has global partners, such as WHO (World Health Organization—United Nations); non-governmental groups such as the Gates Foundation; consumer groups and academic institutions. This was part of the government reaction to the nationwide efforts of the National Vaccine Information Center (then known as Dissatisfied Parents Together) to get the government to do various things regarding vaccine reaction to the DPT shot.
Institute of Medicine issued a report in 1993 “The Children’s Vaccine Initiative: Achieving the Vision” that recommended the federal government establish a National Vaccine Authority which “…would facilitate the development and distribution of vaccines in the United States and around the world." This was supported by Sen. Edward Kennedy, author of the Comprehensive Childhood Immunization Act of 1993.
Women in Government/Legislative Business Roundtable was founded in 1988 “as a bi-partisan, non-profit educational association for elected women in state government." In 1989 the Legislative Business Roundtable was added to Women in Government to bring women legislators together with noted speakers and representatives of the business community to address issues of mutual concern and to promote collective problem-solving through public/private partnership. They hold seminars around the country for women lawmakers. In 1993 with the Clinton Vaccine promotion, they held a number of such seminars for which I have their brochures. The participants in the Atlanta seminar agreed that immunizing children by 24 months of age was essential, and local, state and national groups had to work together to educate and ensure that children are vaccinated by age 2 and to establish a tracking system.
“Immunizations give individual protection, but more, they protect the community,” Walter Orenstein, M.D. Said. (At that time he was the Director of the Division of Immunization at the CDC.) He advocated we look to what was being done in England—“First, in England a nurse can immunize in the home as long as the parents have given consent…” The idea of the registry was to register each child at birth, then to send reminders to the parent and clinic when the child needs vaccinations. “Physicians also receive incentive awards for providing immunizations. Before the cash bonuses were installed, only about 50% of the physicians met their percentage goals; with the incentives more than 3/4ths met their targets, Dr. Orenstein explained.”
At that same seminar, Kay Johnson of the March of Dimes stated, “People need to understand that birth and immunization records are vital records. We need you as state legislators to let them know we’re not infringing on their privacy; we’re not going to check on them to see if they beat their child—there are other systems in place for that; we are not going to turn them in to any authorities; what we’re doing is protecting their children… We will protect confidentiality.”
Merck and Aetna Insurance Company also gave presentations at all the seminars. One Tennessee legislator said “It’s time we as state legislators got tough. It’s time we started demanding accountability on the part of the provider and the parents. Parenting is a responsibility. Providing a medical home is a responsibility and tracking that child has to be a priority. The states can take care of these problems.”
At the New York City seminar held on March 12, 1993, they also agreed on a tracking system and “providing education in all languages necessary.”
Zeil Rosenberg, M.D., Director of Family Health for the NYS Health Department, promoted establishing community-based outreach programs… We mustn’t forget that working with the clergy is very important. Churches are willing to help out. We know the majority of people, whatever their race or creed, turn to churches, and churches generally find ways to override the language barrier.” New York City reported on some initiatives to make the public aware of vaccination: “Teen workers, under supervision, went door to door; community and family awareness was generated via clergy, providers, schools, block parties, fiestas, etc… other aggressive outreach including the use of bullhorns became important…”
The Women in Government Roundtable is primarily responsible for women lawmakers around the country introducing and promoting legislation to mandate the HPV vaccine.
All Kids Count is a “…national organization supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the development of immunization monitoring and follow-up systems. The Task Force for Child Survival and Development in Atlanta (and associated with the Carter Center) administers All Kids Count in its role as the National Program Office. The director was William Foege, MD, formerly of the CDC. Its national advisory committee included Rosalynn Carter for The Carter Center; Betty Bumpers, for Every Child By Two; Dr. Walter Orenstein, MD, for the CDC’s National Immunization Program; Kay Johnson , formerly with the March of Dimes and by 1997 with George Washington University Center for Health Policy Research, and others. Their website is www.allkidscount.org.
Some quotes from their newsletters:
“…computerizing the current immunization record keeping system is a must if we are to fully immunize all children.”
Their Winter, 2000, issue said “The biggest savings of the registry resulted for its adult population, which is also included in the registry to provide information about influenza and pneumococcal immunizations.” Also included in that issue “…Older and more educated parents tended to be more skeptical of the benefits of registries. Women were more likely than men to believe that registries are beneficial for their children. African-Americans were more likely than Caucasian respondents to enroll their child in a registry if their doctor recommended it.”
Partnership for Prevention is a national non-profit promoting health and disease prevention. It is an alliance of private and voluntary sector organizations “whose purpose is to promote the cause of prevention. We seek to complement the efforts of the U.S. Public Health Service, states and local governments, and others striving to meet the ambitious goals of Healthy People 2000 (there is one for 2010, and 2020), the nation’s objectives for the decade of the 1990’s.” Members of its board included Mrs. Betty Bumpers (From Every Child By Two), Dr. William Foege, Kay Johnson, Donald Vickery, M.D. and others.
In the early 1990’s they put out two publications: “Childhood Immunizations: Steps to a Healthy Future: An Agenda for Legislative Action” which included the following: background on childhood immunization, barriers to preventive care, access to immunization, development of improved vaccines, compliance with vaccine recommendations (pushing the tracking system) and policy recommendations. “With a spirit of teamwork, and a sincere commitment, we can reach the solutions together.”
“Adult Immunization: An Issue Analysis and Proposal for Action on Adult Immunization as a National Preventive Strategy. “There is no well-organized, widely accepted advocacy effort at the national level to promote adult immunization coverage as there is for children… a notable achievement was the creation of the National Coalition for Adult Immunization in 1988 which has promulgated a set of
“Standards for Adult Immunization Practice… There is widespread agreement that a concerted effort needs to be made to bring the facts regarding the lack of adult coverage to the attention of physicians- in-training, practicing physicians, and other health care providers and facilities… There is a lack of immunization programs for adults in public and private settings, including work sites, hospitals, schools, and colleges…Having standing orders for vaccinating adults in institutional settings, clinics and offices can enhance vaccination rates… Comprehensive systems for obtaining data on adult immunization are severely lacking… Periodic surveys of adult immunization status conducted through employers could greatly increase the awareness of these underimmunized populations and help motivate those needing these protective services to seek them through public and private sources.” The vaccines promoted for adults at the time were influenza, pneumococcal, hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria, and MMR.—all called “adult vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Every Child By Two: The Carter/Bumper Campaign for Early Immunization, formed by Rosalynn Carter and Betty Bumpers (wife of former Senator from Arkansas). Produced an undated packet (but done in the early 1990’s), printing provided by Gerber, that included the following:
“Every Child Needs a Medical Home”-community-based building blocks for developing local programs, reaching more children through Medicaid.” Under the section ”What You Can Do,” were the following suggestions: Ask your State Health Officer to provide you with a copy of the State Immunization Plan. Ask for a report on the implementation status of your state’s Immunization Action Plan (IAP). In order to apply for funding available from the CDC for delivery of immunization services, each state developed and submitted an IAP; meet with key people—the state health officer, the immunization program manager, the Medicaid Director and representatives from state agencies such as WIC, AFDC, and Maternal and Child Health—“interagency cooperation;” Help start a statewide coalition to develop public/private partnerships that can provide volunteer support for immunization programs.
Under the section “Plan for Success in Your State” were the following suggestions: “Network with the people in your state most likely to have the clout to support the effort to reach Every Child By Two; involve others—public/private partnerships and State legislators; spouses of mayors and members of Congress.
Children’s Defense Fund is the children’s group founded by Marian Wright Edelman that also had Hillary Clinton on its Board of Directors for years. They have groups in NYC (c/o The Robin Hood Foundation), Minnesota, Texas, South Carolina, and 3 groups in Ohio. The CDF is involved with everything that has to do with children, especially Head Start and immunizations. In the CDF Reports of January, 1994, Mrs. Edelman said “Child advocates can play a vital role by organizing local coalitions to plan and oversee community immunization campaigns. Besides protecting children from preventable diseases, immunization campaigns strengthen communities by forging new relationships among citizens’ groups, the business community, local government, and the public health system. These relationships can lead to other community efforts for children in the future.” The CDF is also responsible for coordinating the “National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths in October … now a vital part of the children’s movement.” This effort involved people of all faiths to support CDF and its goals.
Catholic Health Association is one such religious group supportive of the goals of the Children’s Defense Fund, especially promoting Catholic hospitals and parishes to provide immunization projects. The January, 1993, issue of their newsletter, Immunization Update, listed a number of activities planned by Catholic hospitals. Among them were joining forces with the Junior League, WIC, Every Child By Two, and listing the usual immunization groups that put out guidebooks, brochures, public service announcements (PSA’s), videos, fact sheets, etc. In their August, 1993 edition, they reported on D.A. Henderson, who “has been named to head President Clinton’s immunization campaign.” This “Immunization Czar” as he was called, stated that “…he sees immunization as an important step in broader healthcare reform. ‘If we can develop a system for immunizing children, we will have the beginning of a more rational system for primary healthcare.’”
As you can see, there are many groups that have an interest in promoting vaccinations and the laws to do so. They network with other groups that want to improve our lives and thus, are willing to help the Government achieve its goals. No wonder none of them want to hear our side of the issue!!
Initially, vaccines were promoted to parents and the public as helping to protect our children. Adverse reactions to vaccines were denied by the Government and the medical profession. But there was reached a time (1986) when they could no longer deny adverse reactions. However, they had to save the vaccination program. And that they did and continue to do.
As more parents have become aware of the hazards of vaccination, either because of personal experience or because of researching the issue, the stakes of the vaccination program have become too high. So, over the past few years, an approach of these pro-vaccine groups has been to portray those who are against forced vaccination as “being selfish.” We and our children are threats to them. We are also portrayed as being “ignorant.” We are “they.” These kinds of attacks will continue more frequently and forcefully in the years to come, especially as all vaccinations and more will be included in Health Care legislation and “reform.” For those of us who belong to an organized religion that will support all these vaccine efforts, it will be especially painful.
It is my hope that in 2010 those on our side of the issue will use the strategies of our opponents and do our own networking, actions and raising money on a larger level. That means we need YOUR voices and your influence. Although I think it is remarkable what a comparatively small group of us around the country has been able to do over the years, we are always reacting to what they come up with. We will never really succeed until our group of activists is even one tenth the size of theirs and being pro-active instead of reactive. We cannot allow the pro-vaccine advocates to define us in the negative and generally untrue way they do. Their stake in the issue is that the public will lose trust in them, and they can’t have it. So there is really little reliable research being done on vaccine reactions. That is also why they have to negatively attack us. However, that is little consolation as we try to rally and motivate our supporters and defend our position.
We ARE intelligent, want ALL children to be healthy, and we believe that when given ALL the information, WE can make intelligent decisions and choices. The major thing is that WE disagree with THEM on what and how to do the best for our children.
So, in 2010 what will YOU be motivated to do for our cause?
Bonnie P. Franz