Immunization Action Coalition and the Hepatitis B Coalition

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Issue Number 157            April 12, 2000

CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE

  1. Medical experts and advocacy groups unite in support of universal immunization programs
  2. New resource! CDC creates new website on vaccines and autism
  3. Official record is open until April 20 for congressional committee hearing on autism 

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(1)
April 6, 2000
MEDICAL EXPERTS AND ADVOCACY GROUPS UNITE IN SUPPORT OF UNIVERSAL IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMS 

On April 6, 2000, nine national nonprofit organizations that are deeply involved in immunization education issued a joint statement on the importance of immunization to the prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases. The statement was submitted to the House Committee on Government Reform for inclusion in the official record for the April 6 hearing titled "Autism: Present Challenges, Future Needs--Why the Increased Rates?" The statement reads as follows:

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MEDICAL EXPERTS AND ADVOCACY GROUPS UNITE IN SUPPORT OF ROUTINE IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN

In response to the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee's hearing on autism which will include a discussion on vaccine safety, we, the undersigned, unite to underscore the importance of routine childhood vaccination programs.

The benefits of universal immunization have been demonstrated by the eradication of debilitating diseases. Routine immunization has eradicated smallpox from the planet, nearly eliminated the polio virus worldwide, and dramatically reduced the occurrence of other preventable infectious diseases including measles, pertussis and rubella. In fact, vaccines have safely and effectively prevented more disease and death than any other medical intervention or treatment, including antibiotics. Furthermore, extensive safety studies have failed to find any scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism.

In the absence of widespread vaccination, epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases would return. Millions of lives would be lost. Children would suffer needlessly, the incidence of infant and childhood deaths would rise dramatically, and we would reverse the tremendous progress already made in protecting children and communities from disabling and deadly diseases.

Vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing the transmission of serious infectious diseases. Routine immunization is the most effective way to protect children from harmful but preventable diseases, and to thwart the reemergence of the deadly disease outbreaks of the past.

Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute 
American Liver Foundation 
Children's Liver Alliance 
Every Child By Two 
Hepatitis Foundation International 
Immunization Action Coalition 
Latino Organization for Liver Awareness 
National Educational Association 
Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases 

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IAC EDITOR'S NOTE: MORE INFORMATION ON AUTISM AND VACCINES
Scientists and doctors brought together by the British Medical Research Council (MRC) published a report on April 3, 2000, that concludes that there is no evidence to suggest a causal link between MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination and autism or inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD). 

To obtain a summary of the report in text version (HTML format), visit the MRC website at: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/whats_new/press_releases/PR_2000/mrc_18_00.html

To obtain the complete text version (HTML format) of this report, visit: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Autism_report.html

To obtain more information on Britain's MRC, go to: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/who.html

To locate additional resources on autism and vaccines, visit the Immunization Action Coalition's "Vaccine Safety" web page at: http://www.immunize.org/genr.d/vaxsafe.htm
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(2)
April 12, 2000
NEW RESOURCE! CDC CREATES NEW WEB PAGE ON VACCINES AND AUTISM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a "Vaccines and Autism" web page to address concerns about autism and childhood vaccinations. The page includes a "Vaccines and Autism Resource Kit" that provides up-to-date information about autism, vaccines, and the importance of childhood immunizations, as well as links to other websites that address these issues.

The website also includes the following statement from CDC:

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Our agency's mission is to prevent disease, disability, and death. We're committed to identifying health problems, finding their causes, and working on ways to prevent or treat them. Many of our efforts, including those involving immunization, are first and foremost devoted to promoting the health of children.

Autism is a serious, life-long, developmental disability. We support efforts to find and prevent all the causes of autism as rapidly as possible.

The currently available scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. We recognize there is considerable parent interest in this issue, and therefore support additional research regarding this hypothesis. We are doing so because we are committed to ensuring the safest immunization program possible.

There is much evidence of the benefits of childhood immunization, including record, or near record, low rates of vaccine preventable diseases in the United States. Last year, for example, there were fewer than 100 reported cases of measles--and no deaths--in the US, compared with 27,786 cases and 64 deaths in 1990. 

Thus, one of the most effective ways that parents can protect the health of their children--especially infants and young children--is to ensure that the children receive all of their recommended immunizations on time.

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To access CDC's "Vaccines and Autism" website, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/autism/
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(3)
April 12, 2000
OFFICIAL RECORD IS OPEN UNTIL APRIL 20 FOR CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE HEARING ON AUTISM

On April 6, 2000, the House Committee on Government Reform held a hearing titled "Autism: Present Challenges, Future Needs--Why the Increased Rates?" The hearing included testimony from experts and parents about a purported rise in autism rates in the United States. Some individuals who provided testimony expressed their opinion that a link exists between autism and childhood vaccines.

Written testimony (e.g., letters) will be accepted through April 20, 2000, for inclusion in the official record of this U.S. House of Representatives hearing. You need not be an autism specialist to weigh in on the vaccine issues discussed during this hearing. If you would like to submit your views to the committee, mail your statement to both Chairman Dan Burton and Ranking Minority Member Henry Waxman at the following addresses. Request that your letter be included in the official record for the hearing.

Chairman Dan Burton
Government Reform Committee
2185 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Attn: Autism Testimony

Representative Henry Waxman
Government Reform Committee
2204 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Attn: Autism Testimony

You can also fax your statement to Rep. Burton at (202) 226-1274 and Rep. Waxman at (202) 225-4099. Include the phrase "Autism Testimony" on the fax cover sheet.

Finally, you can express your opinion by phone by calling Rep. Burton's office at (202) 225-2276 and Rep. Waxman's office at (202) 225-3976.

 

Immunization Action Coalition1573 Selby AvenueSt. Paul MN 55104
E-mail: admin@immunize.org Web: http://www.immunize.org/
Tel: (651) 647-9009Fax: (651) 647-9131

This page was updated on April 12, 2000