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Vaccines, autism and an epidemic of official lies

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AUTISM rates have escalated from 1 in 10,000 in the 1970s to 1 in 36 today, according to 2024 figures released by the US public health agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As you might expect with such a worrying statistic, the CDC acted promptly and decisively: they renamed April’s ‘Autism Awareness Month’ and are now calling it ‘Autism Acceptance Month’.

This has rightly riled the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Children’s Health Defence (CHD), a campaign group founded in 2016 by a group of concerned parents and chaired by independent presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jnr. CHD said that ‘acceptance’ should be replaced with ‘unacceptable’.

But worse, the horrific increase might have been halted if the government had acted when the vaccine-autism link was first made but they did not. CHD say they have uncovered an alleged fraud used to dismiss the vaccine-autism link and filed a motion on National Autism Day, April 2, to compel the government to release the facts.

The case emerged because paediatric neurologist Dr Andrew Zimmerman, who originally served as an expert medical witness for the government in vaccine injury cases, has signed an affidavit saying that there are ‘exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism’.

It was June 2007 when Dr Zimmerman told Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers that he had discovered vaccines could cause autism. He said: ‘I explained that in a subset of children, vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation did cause regressive brain disease with features of autism spectrum disorder.’ His opinion was based on ‘scientific advances’, and his own experience with patients, including the case of Yates Hazlehurst, detailed below.

Dr Zimmerman said that once DOJ lawyers heard this he was fired, and he claims they went on to misrepresent his opinion in federal vaccine court to debunk vaccine-autism claims. He says his evidence shows the DOJ lawyers, who represented the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in vaccine injury cases, repeatedly defrauded the judicial system all the way to the Supreme Court. This meant thousands of vaccine-injured children were denied compensation and the right to have their cases heard.

Dr Zimmerman, a paediatric neurologist at the Centre for Autism and Related Disorders at Johns Hopkins’ Kennedy Krieger Institute, was one expert who assessed a vaccine-injured boy called Yates Hazlehurst.

Yates was a happy 11-month-old when he was taken to the doctor with an ear infection on February 8, 2001. A golden rule is applied to vaccinating children – they must be in good health to receive any shot. Although Yates was unwell, the clinic gave him his 12-month shots, one month early. He received four shots for six diseases, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Prevnar (to protect against pneumococcal infections), flu (Hib) and hepatitis B vaccines, all in one visit. Within two weeks he developed a high fever, rash and vomiting. He stopped speaking, developed an obsession with numbers and letters and his behaviour became erratic. Alongside his developmental delay, his physical health deteriorated: he developed gastrointestinal issues and different infections.

Yates was finally diagnosed with autism just over a year later, on June 3, 2002. Neurologist Dr Jean-Ronel Corbier, who examined him, said his regressive autism was a response to the MMR vaccine. At the time, Dr Zimmerman tested Yates for a mitochondrial disorder he thought made him vulnerable to vaccine-induced regressive autism, especially as he was vaccinated while unwell.

With the results of these assessments, Yates’s parents filed a claim with the US National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), also known as vaccine court. It was launched in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan in the wake of $3billion worth of vaccine injury claims lodged with Big Pharma between 1980 and 1986. The scheme was to address the risks of ‘unavoidably unsafe’ vaccines and protect the pharmaceutical industry from lawsuits. Funded by a levy paid on each vaccine, most claims initially related to the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) jab.

Yates became the second of six omnibus test cases. They dragged on for nearly ten years. Families and organisations fought for access to government information on vaccine safety and side-effects, which government refused to provide. They knew that if the cases were won, confidence in vaccines would plummet and the compensation fund bankrupted. Unsurprisingly, they ruled that causation theories offered in all cases were not convincing and denied the test case claims to all six families.

A new legal action, filed by Yates’s father Rolf Hazlehurst, the senior staff attorney for CHD and former assistant district attorney general for Tennessee, could reopen the omnibus proceedings and overturn the ruling in Yates’s case. If successful, it could also find the US National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 unconstitutional.

Thousands of families could benefit as the VICP has consistently refused to pay any claims to children who regressed and were diagnosed with autism post vaccination. More than 5,000 have been denied vital payments that could ease the burden of the astronomical costs, around £200,000, associated with raising a child with autism. Depending on where children are on the spectrum, they could be non-verbal, incontinent, develop obsessions and struggle with social interaction. A child with autism can need help with a range of issues including speech therapy, severe gastrointestinal disorders, special diets and special schooling.

The connection to vaccines and autism, specifically the MMR in the UK, was made in the late 1990s by gastroenterologist Dr Andrew Wakefield and a team at the Royal Free Hospital in north London. Inundated with referrals to their paediatric gastroenterology clinic they heard the same story over and over. ‘My child was developing normally until they had their MMR jab, then they developed bowel disease and autism.’ Dr Wakefield investigated and his case series, published in the Lancet, looked at 12 children and concluded that more research was needed to prove a link.

The government could have conducted vaccinated versus unvaccinated studies to put the matter to bed. Instead they doubled down on the vaccine programme and refused to invest, and used epidemiological studies to dismiss the claims. (An epidemiological study is number-crunching which looks at the link to human health events after exposure to specific chemical agents, not sensitive enough to detect rare adverse events. They are the same studies the tobacco industry used to proclaim cigarette smoking did not cause lung cancer.)

Official figures state autism rates are better in the UK than the US, with 1 in 100 recorded in 2022. A 2021 study identified a 787 per cent increase in the number of autism diagnoses in the 20 years between 1998 (the year Dr Wakefield’s study was published) and 2018.

Official forecasts predict a ‘surge’ in reported autism and ADHD cases amongst boys in the UK, conditions which account for 75 per cent of disability claims. The number of under-18s receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is expected to reach nearly 1million in 2028-29 according to Department for Work and Pension (DWP) figures, equal to around 1 in 14 children.

This year Ireland recorded that 4.7 per cent of the school population are diagnosed with autism, that is 14,000 children aged between four and 15, four times higher than ten years ago.

It is incredible that there is no outcry. Recently the medical establishment was up in arms over 733 measles cases in the UK, and no deaths, but the talk of autism is about how best to accommodate those on the spectrum, which is indeed important, but not why they are on it in the first place and how we can reduce their numbers.

CHD are clear on what they think is causing the ‘unexplained’ increase that ‘baffles’ scientists. Their recent newsletter said: ‘With more toxic chemicals in our environment than ever before, along with the burgeoning childhood immunisation schedule (72 shots for American children), we believe that these toxic exposures are fuelling the rise in autism.’ Mr Kennedy added: ‘Our children are living in a toxic soup.’

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Sally Beck
Sally Beck
Sally Beck is a freelance journalist with 30 years of experience in writing for national newspapers and magazines. She has reported on vaccines since the controversy began with the MMR in 1998.

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