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Thank you, Congressman Shays

Those of you who have been following me over the years know that my mantra has always been that there are almost no vaccine safety or efficacy studies using never vaccinated children as controls. (1, 2, 3) It has long been my hope that I would somehow be able to make that point to the right person or persons, to appeal to someone who might have the ability to seriously address the problem.

Never did I dream it would happen the way it did, however, that is, the only time I was able to attend one of Congressman Burton's Government Reform Committee hearings, "THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC--IS THE NIH AND CDC RESPONSE ADEQUATE?".  What follows is a transcript of what happened (for the entire transcript, click here).

   "Mr. Shays.  Dr. Foote and Dr. Boyle, let me just say it is our intention to let you get out pretty soon. You haven't had a break or anything. Do you have 20 more minutes in you? Are you OK?
    I am going to do something that may seem a little unusual, and I may have to just cut it off if it is not a good idea.  But, Dr. Foote and Dr. Boyle, if you can trust me in terms of my ability to control a meeting, it is not lost on me that we have a lot of people in the audience who have a keen direct interest. There may be a question or two that none of us on the panel here have asked that we should have. I am going to ask if there is someone in the audience who may have a question that says we should have addressed this. I will allow you to stand up and tell the committee, and then we may choose, our committee may choose to ask that question.
    My motivation is that it would be a shame to have people leave without you having the opportunity to respond and maybe clear something up. Both of you have such a nice, friendly smile. I figured I could get away with it. So we are going to try it out, but I have the counsel--excuse me, the minority counsel would like to ask you a few questions, the majority professional staff would just like to ask a few more, and then I am going to just throw it out to the audience, pick two or three of you and ask you to stand and tell me if there is a question you think we should have asked, loud enough so I can repeat it to our witnesses...... 

   Mr. Shays. Now let me state what I would like to do. I would like to let our witnesses leave soon. I would like to just say that this is a hearing of the House of Representatives, of Congress, so the decorum needs to be done well.
    I am going to first ask how many people would like to ask the question. I am going to invite five people to take each of those five seats. I am going to invite you, Ma'am, in the front row to come up to that seat up there, yes. I am going to invite you in the very back to come up, the very back there. I am going to invite you, sir, to come up. I am going to invite you, Ma'am, in the middle, and I am going to invite you in the very back there.
    I am going to have you each take a seat. What I am going to invite each of you to do, the committee is going to invite each of you, you are just going to go down and you are going to identify your name, as you ask the question, where you live. If you have a loved one who is impacted, we are happy to have you share the name of your child, but this is primarily for an opportunity to ask a question. We will just see how it goes.
OK?
    You all are nice--thank you--to let us do this.
    Just turn the mic on, start at the very end, and ask your question.
    Ms. Mintz. Hi. My name is Sandy Mintz. I am from Anchorage, AK. I am lucky enough not to have a child who has been injured by a vaccine.
    My question is, is NIH ever planning on doing a study using the only proper control group, that is, never vaccinated children?
    Dr. Foote. I am not aware of--but note carefully what I said, that I am not aware of--a proposed study to use a suitably constructed group of never vaccinated children. Now CDC would be more likely perhaps to be aware of such an opportunity.
    Dr. Boyle. The study that I mentioned earlier that we are doing in collaboration with Denmark compares children who received the MMR vaccine versus children who did not receive MMR.
    Ms. Mintz. But I am saying never vaccinated with any vaccine. That assumes that other vaccines don't cause autism, which is what needs to be studied, not assumed.
    Mr. Shays. Let me just say that if you would turn off your mic, I am happy to have you do the followup, if you would respond to it.
    Ms. Mintz. I'm sorry.
    Mr. Shays. No, you don't need to apologize. And we will go to the next. Do you have any other comment based on that? The point that is being made, any vaccination. Could we just suggest that you take this under advisement?
    Ms. Wharton. The difficulty with doing such a study in the United States, of course, is that a very small portion of children have never received any vaccines, and these children probably differ in other ways from vaccinated children. So performing such a study would, in fact, be quite difficult.
    The Denmark study was a study that, in fact, could not have been done in the United States, although, of course, these children did potentially receive some other vaccines, but simply hadn't received MMR.
    Mr. Shays. I will invite anyone who is here to speak to staff or me afterwards if they want to augment a comment."

While I wasn't able to "augment my comment" right after the meeting, here's the gist of what I later emailed to Beth Clay, the professional committee staff member who was present at the hearing:

1) There are more than enough never vaccinated children in the states which allow philosophical exemptions to conduct a proper study.

2)  If children who have not been vaccinated are different in ways that prevent them from getting autism, wouldn't we want to know that? 

Well, wouldn't we? 

Sandy Gottstein     

Date: 9-27-2002