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Holiday 36

I just read Jeff Donowitz's letter [April 28: "Hook should be ashamed"] regarding the story on vaccines and autism.

I am the father of a six-year-old autistic girl, and I am lately inclined to believe that our childhood vaccine program has had a lot do with our current epidemic of autism, ADHD, type-1 diabetes, peanut anaphylaxis, and other disorders.

I have been comparatively slow coming to this position. Many of my friends, especially those better read on the topic than I am, have reached this conclusion far more quickly.

Donowitz complains that the article was "one sided." It didn't strike me that way, but maybe it ought to have been. Coverage in the popular press (NBC, Time, Newsweek) has certainly been one sided. In these media, the only story is that every study has concluded that there is no connection between vaccines (especially thimerosal) and autism. This is not true.

Please read Evidence of Harm by David Kirby. The essential fact of it is that those in charge of our National Immunization Program have failed to protect people from unnecessary harm, and have failed to protect the program from loss of citizens' confidence.

They have treated every honest request for information with disdain. The Centers for Disease Control have refused requests from independent researchers for access to the Vaccine Safety Datalink. The CDC study of the data from the VSD originally found a high association between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders. Subsequent reworkings of the study made the connection disappear. These are facts which can be checked. The unfortunate dual responsibility of the CDC for both promotion of the program and oversight of it is unworkable.

Donowitz says "shame" on the Hook. I say "thank you" for trying to bring some balance to a topic which has been presented in a very lopsided way in the popular press.

John Malone
Charlottesville

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