In a floor speech this week, a House Republican urged his colleagues to launch a congressional investigation into possible links between childhood vaccinations and childhood autism.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) on Tuesday discussed the findings of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist William Thompson, who’s emerged in recent months as a leading figure in the fight to further study health risks associated with vaccines. Thompson made headlines in August when he revealed that CDC officials opted not to publish information from a study finding that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine increased autism risk for African-American boys.
Thompson’s interest in exposing possible vaccine risks is particularly important because he isn’t opposed to childhood vaccinations, rather he describes himself as being “absolutely, resolutely pro-vaccine” but deeply disturbed that the CDC is withholding information about vaccination risks from the public.
Posey criticized lawmakers for dragging their feet in launching an inquiry into Thompson’s claims which the lawmaker first began informing his colleagues of in a series of impassioned floor speeches months ago.
“I believe it is my duty that the documents Dr. Thompson provided are not ignored,” Posey said Tuesday.
Thompson’s claims were completely ignored during a recent Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearing that focused solely on vaccinations. For Posey, the upper chamber’s failure to investigate the claims only makes more urgent the need for House action.
“Considering the nature of the whistleblower’s documents, as well as the involvement of the CDC, a hearing and a thorough investigation is warranted. So I ask Mr. Speaker, I beg, I implore my colleagues on the Appropriations committees to please, please take such action,” Posey said.
Thompson, who was one of the authors of the unpublished vaccine study, explained the importance of its findings — and the dangers of ignoring them — with Posey’s office early in the summer.
Posey read this quote from Thompson’s correspondence for lawmakers back in July:
At the bottom of Table 7 it also shows that for the non-birth certificate sample, the adjusted race effect statistical significance was huge. All the authors and I met and decided sometime between August and September ’02 not to report any race effects for the paper. Sometime soon after the meeting, we decided to exclude reporting any race effects, the co-authors scheduled a meeting to destroy documents related to the study. The remaining four co-authors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room and reviewed and went through all the hard copy documents that we had thought we should discard and put them in a huge garbage can. However, because I assumed it was illegal and would violate both FOIA and DOJ requests, I kept hard copies of all documents in my office and I retained all associated computer files. I believe we intentionally withheld controversial findings from the final draft of the Pediatrics paper.
Following Posey’s initial calls for a congressional investigation, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Forbes that the agency would look into the whistle-blower’s concerns.
“Consistent with CDC’s existing policies and procedures, the agency, through its Office of the Associate Director for Science (ADS), and in coordination with the [Health and Human Services] Office of Research Integrity, is reviewing these concerns. The agency will provide further information once the review is completed,” he said.
The CDC has yet to release any of the information promised in Skinner’s August statement.
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