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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bill Proposes a Study of Vaccines

At the House Oversight hearing last year, Representatives Bill Posey (R-Florida) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) took the anti-vaccine side. At Left Brain/Right Brain, Matt Carey writes about HR. 1757 by Posey and  Maloney, which seeks a comparative study of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
“(11) There are numerous United States populations in which a practice of no vaccination is followed and which therefore provide a natural comparison group for comparing total health outcomes.”
If you think one of the “numerous” populations considered are the Amish, you’d be correct. They are mentioned later in the bill. They’ve been mentioned in previous versions of the bill. Even though the Amish do, indeed, vaccinate. There was some very poor journalism promoting the idea that the Amish don’t vaccinate (and that their are no autistic Amish, another incorrect statement).
The bill then goes on the instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to initiate a study of health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
(d) Target Populations- The Secretary shall seek to include in the study under this section populations in the United States that have traditionally remained unvaccinated for religious or other reasons, which populations may include Old Order Amish, members of clinical practices (such as the Homefirst practice in Chicago) who choose alternative medical practices, practitioners of anthroposophic lifestyles, and others who have chosen not to be vaccinated.
Why would the named groups be any more valuable to researchers than “…others who have chosen not to be vaccinated”?
It’s a useless clause. It’s worse than useless. One would want to study populations as similar in all respects save vaccination as possible. In their press release SafeMinds stated, ” Every 7th grader knows you cannot do a proper experiment without a rigorous control group that can be compared with the exposed group.” Choosing a group which is specifically different from the study group in areas other than the variable of interest would be, by definition, non rigorous. I’ll leave it to the reader whether every 7th grader would understand that, as some well educated adults do not.
The bill is essentially the same as the previous incarnations. The “transparancy” clause is new. Also new is this:
(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the conduct or support of any study in which an individual or population is encouraged or incentivized to remain unvaccinated.
Yes, they are making it clear that they are not asking for a prospective double-blind study where one group would be intentionally unvaccinated. I’d love to know how that new clause was inserted. It’s probably the simple reality that such a study is unethical and would make this bill dead on arrival.