Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Three Suggestions & a Short List


If you have been reading this blog on a regular basis, you have learned a few things about me. You know that I dearly enjoy my privacy. You also might’ve noticed that I do NOT enjoy having others force their opinions on me. I march to the beat of my own drum, in the grand American tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Charles Lindbergh and Gary Busey. “Don’t Tread On Me, Either!” is my motto.

“What a coincidence,” you say. “I have a brother who, all through grammar school, insisted on wearing the exact same pair of Captain America Underoos®. There are places for you both at the Too Big For Their Britches Hall of Fame. So what?”

I’m just saying that, under usual circumstances, politics and I go together like peanut butter and salsa. While I realize the importance of politics, I loathe the intrusiveness, preachiness, greediness and all-or-nothing, cookie-cutter mentality of the business. But sometimes, you must make exceptions and this entry is one of them. Today’s lunch special is PB & S on Midwestern wheat bread.

Hey, wait! Come back! Having just read the above paragraphs, you don’t think I’d dump that kind of stuff on you, do you? Uh-uh. I’m merely going to make three suggestions and give you a list of five brief factoids. You may, of course, take or leave them as you wish. The choice is entirely yours and whichever option you pick, we’ll still be friends. Okay?

Anyone who follows the news has heard something about the supposed connection between mercury and autism. Over the course of at least a decade, exposure to high levels of thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative commonly found in childhood vaccines, allegedly caused autism in millions of children across America. I have a young relative who, three years ago, was diagnosed with autism. I became convinced of the link between mercury and autism after reading two recent articles on the subject. These articles, “Deadly Immunity” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Rolling Stone 977/978 [2005]: 57-66) and “Debate on autism and vaccine puts parents on edge” (Chicago Tribune, 17 July 2005: 7) by Julie Deardorff, are the most cogent and concise analyses of this subject that I have seen. Both of these articles are available online (www.rollingstone.com and www.chicagotribune.com, respectively). Suggestion # 1: seek out these articles and read them, if only to be updated on a crucial topic.

Here’s that list I mentioned, gleaned from Kennedy’s and Deardorff’s articles:

1.) Between 1988 and 1992, Deardorff states that the number of vaccines kids were given “more than doubled”. Tragically, nobody “bothered to calculate cumulative exposure [to mercury]. When a government researcher finally did in 1999, he found that it exceeded federal limits” (Deardorff 7).
2.) “During the 1990s, 40 million children were injected with thimerosal-based vaccines, receiving unprecedented levels of mercury during a period critical for brain development” (Kennedy 60).
3.) Over the past 15 years, “the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in every 166 children” (Kennedy 57).
4.) Between 1930 and 1971, Eli-Lilly, the drug company which developed thimerosal, received an abundance of scientific evidence clearly indicating that the preservative was harmful; yet, the company publicly maintained that thimerosal was safe (Kennedy 60).
5.) Why, through the 1980s and 1990s, did drug companies continue to produce vaccines containing thimerosal? The reason, Kennedy claims, was “cost considerations”. Thimerosal “enables the pharmaceutical industry to package vaccines in vials that contain multiple doses, which require additional protection because they are more easily contaminated by multiple needle entries. The larger vials cost half as much to produce as smaller, single-dose vials, making it cheaper for international agencies to distribute them to impoverished regions. . .” (Kennedy 60).

Okay, it’s time for Suggestion # 2, which is also the primary reason for this one-day-early entry. Deardorff’s article alerted me to an important event scheduled for Wednesday, July 20, 2005 in Washington DC. On that day, a parents’ group called Moms Against Mercury (www.momsagainstmercury.org) will be marching in the Capitol “to rally for anti-thimerosal legislation” (Deardorff 7). Deardorff notes that thirty states “have pending legislation” that would outlaw thimerosal-based vaccines (7). If, after reading this, you are so inclined, why not seize the day and show some support for the Moms Against Mercury? Check this site (www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm) to obtain your state governor’s e-mail address. Then, send your state governor a polite, 1-line message: “Please ban the use of mercury-based vaccines in (INSERT STATE NAME HERE). Thank you.” It’s that simple. Countless kids, maybe even one you’re related to, will be grateful.

Now, let’s wind it all up with Suggestion # 3. I am NOT, in any way, implying that parents should avoid having their children vaccinated. Vaccines save lives. If your child is due for his/her shots (or boosters), be sure to get them. And be sure to demand “thimerosal-free vaccines” when you do (Deardorff 7). Remember that knowledge is power, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Next Wednesday, I promise to leave my soapbox at home. See you then. . .

UPDATE 8-19-05

Yesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the Mercury-Free Vaccine Act into law in my home state! Way to go Rod! You've got my vote in the next election.

See, friends? Sometimes the good guys win. For those of you with anti-mercury vaccine bills pending in your states, please write your senators, congresspeople and governors. For those of you in states not currently considering banning vaccines containing mercury, please write your senators, congresspeople and governors. This is not a partisan issue. It's a human rights issue. A short e-mail or post card from you could help save thousands of kids' health and well-being, if not their lives. Be one of the good guys!

4 Comments:

Blogger Doggie Extraordinaire's Mom said...

I've read a lot about mercury lately and knew most of what you shared in this post. There are many days when I am grateful (to some extent) that my parents forged half of my medical records about my childhood immunizations because I was so terrified of shots. (My last childhood vaccine resulted in me being put in a straight jacket just to get near me with a needle.) Amazing I was a nurse for a short time.

Every fall people are loathe to discuss anywhere in proximity to me the subject of flu shots, because I am staunchly opposed to them, for reasons I won't go into here. For far too long, people have had blind faith in doctors, medications, immunizations, and all the agencies that govern them. We need to question more, test more and think more about what we ingest.

Thanks for sharing this topic with your readers. Don't feel bad about the soap box; it's not a controversial topic -- just highly informative.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous JQ said...

Johnny Boy, I was merely suggesting you blog about politics because I feel you could turn out to be a Bush basher extraordinaire (and you don't have to be limited to Bush, Cheney, Rove, McClelland & Co can get their fair share as well.)

But you know, whatever tickles your fancy. Keep up the good work! By the way, do you get paid for this? You may not be as unemployed as you pretend to be!

10:19 AM  
Blogger John Left said...

Librarian, thank you for your comments. I truly appreciate them. Jq, I hope I didn't step on your toes. Nothing personal. I likewise appreciate your input. Thank you for being regular readers.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Kristie said...

It beats the hell out of the theory that all the IT nerds with mildly autistic tendancies are being herded together in large IT companies and (horrors!) allowed the reproduce. I wonder how long it took the drug companies to come up with that one.

1:00 PM  

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