By: Catherine Frompovich
07 September 2010
Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it.
That factor is attitude.
….William James, American Philosopher & Psychologist (1842-1910)
Why in the world would I open a report about a vaccine meeting at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Maryland, with such a quote? My answer is quite simple: Both sides of the vaccine injury issue need to interact intelligently because, as one member at that meeting said privately, “We’re both on the same page only at different paragraphs.”
That remark has resounded in my consciousness numerous times since I heard it at the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines Meeting September 2 and 3, 2010. Furthermore, after listening to the committee and my making a three-minute presentation on Shaken Baby Syndrome, I’ve begun to realize that there just may be some truth to that unapparent statement. However, there’s a caveat, which is: The perspective from which government and vaccine safety advocates approach the “page” differ somewhat.
As I and other lay-advocates sat there listening to impressive information, I began to wonder about a few things. I am a consumer healthcare researcher for over 35 years and a journalist. I believe I know how to research and cite statistics and information. I value the moral integrity of factual information. I appreciate transparency. I truly believe in the principles of public health, safety, and welfare. I also wonder how, on an issue as important as vaccine safety and adverse reactions, there can be palpable differences.
Here’s a case on point.
On the last day of the meeting a report was given about the H1N1 Vaccine Safety Update wherein a statement was made that there were no pregnancy and/or fetal adverse reactions reported. Within a few minutes of hearing that remarkable statement, advocate Eileen Dannemann of the National Coalition of Organized Women (NCOW) made her astounding three-minute presentation that highlighted the 178 VAERS reports on H1N1 vaccine-related miscarriages. Ms. Dannemann’s presentation was totally serendipitous, as no one had access to what was going to be presented at the meeting. Can you imagine the look on committee members’ faces as Dannemann made her presentation? Personally, I sat there feeling sorry for everyone involved. There is nothing more humiliating than being contradicted by valid government agency data, which Dannemann pitched with aplomb. How come Dannemann had those statistics and the person who made that apparently erroneous statement didn’t? I’ve thought about that almost constantly since I heard the contradictory presentation and wonder just how much more information is not being shared with government advisory committees who, in turn, make recommendations regarding health issues and particularly, vaccines—the apparent ‘sacred cow’ of public health policy.