National Vaccine Information Center

Contact: Kathi Williams

703-938-0342

 

April 6, 2000

PARENTS AND RESEARCHERS CALL FOR ACTION TO END GAPS

IN KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AUTISM AND THE VACCINE CONNECTION

Washington, D.C. -- At a Capitol Hill press conference today followed by a hearing on autism in the House Government Reform Committee, independent researchers investigating the biological causes of autism joined with parent organizations in calling for immediate and accelerated basic science research into identifying biological risk factors which play a role in the development of vaccine-associated regressive autism in children.

The parents and researchers, who were joined by Government Reform Committee Chairman Congressman Dan Burton, stressed that they were not questioning the good that vaccines have done in controlling infectious disease in childhood but were calling for accelerated research into the way vaccines can impact on the developing brain and immune systems of some children, depending upon genetic and other biological factors. They said research should be designed to (1) better understand biological mechanisms for vaccine-associated autism; (2) identify children at high risk in order to develop screening techniques prior to vaccination; (3) tailor vaccine policies to minimize vaccine risks; (3) develop immune modulating therapies to repair immune and brain dysfunction following vaccination; and (4) re-evaluate vaccine ingredients to maximize purity, safety and efficacy.

Presenting evidence for a vaccine-autism connection and answering questions from the media were: Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., founder, Autism Research

Institute and Autism Society of America; Andrew Wakefield, M.D., of London; Walter Spitzer, M.D., M.P.H., Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology, McGill University; Vijendra Singh, Ph.D., Research Professor, Utah State University; Candace Pert, Ph.D., Research Professor, Georgetown University Medical Center; Mary Megson, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Medical College of Virginia; Edward Yazbak, M.D., F.A.A.P., of Massachusetts; and Lynn Redwood, RN, MSN, of Georgia.

Spokespersons for parent organizations included Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president, National Vaccine Information Center; Rick Rollens, co-founder of F.E.A.T. and the M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California-Davis; Shelley Reynolds and Jeana Smith, co-founders, Unlocking Autism, of Louisiana; Ray Gallup, founder of Autism Autoimmunity Project, of New Jersey; and Karyn Seroussi, founder of A.N.D.I., of New York.

Danielle Burton Sarkine, whose infant daughter almost died after a reaction to a hepatitis B vaccination and whose 14 month old son was left autistic after receiving nine vaccines on one day, introduced her father, Congressman Dan Burton, who spoke about the direction the committee’s investigation is taking in exploring the connection between vaccines and brain and immune system dysfunction in children.

"This was a historic day," said NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher, "because it marks the first time that researchers stood publicly with parents with vaccine injured children and issued a united call for an end to the gaps in knowledge about the way in which vaccines singly or in combination can adversely affect children. We can't wait for one more generation to be born before we commit the will and resources to answer outstanding questions that beg to be answered."