For those of us who grew up watching ER, Mark Green is a household name.
But that’s not the Mark Green I’m talking about…
Who Is Mark Green?
Mark Green is a soon-to-be congressman, recently elected for Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District.
A Republican, he is also a doctor. Specifically, he became a Army special operations flight surgeon after completing a residency in emergency medicine.
Of note, Dr. Green has also made horrible statements about transgender people, saying that they have a disease and that they are an evil that must be crushed.
Although his previous statements led him to withdraw as Trump’s pick for Army Secretary, that didn’t keep folks in Tennessee from sending him to Congress.
And now we have his comments about vaccines and autism…
At a recent town hall meeting in Tennessee, Green said:
“Let me say this about autism,” Green said. “I have committed to people in my community, up in Montgomery County, to stand on the CDC’s desk and get the real data on vaccines. Because there is some concern that the rise in autism is the result of the preservatives that are in our vaccines.
“As a physician, I can make that argument and I can look at it academically and make the argument against the CDC, if they really want to engage me on it,” Green said.
Has he apologized?
Despite some saying that he has walked back those claims, his main response has been that his comments had been “misconstrued” and that “I’ve vaccinated my kids and let others know they need to vaccinate theirs too.”
“There appears to be some evidence that as vaccine numbers increase, rates of autism increase,” Green said. “We need better research, and we need it fast. We also need complete transparency of any data. Vaccines are essential to good population health. But that does not mean we should not look closely at the correlation for any causation.”
Except for when he doubled down on his statements trying to associate vaccines with autism…
Statements which seemed to cause the Tennessee chapter of the AAP and the Tennessee Department of Health to issue statements of their own.
“Vaccines do not cause autism.”
Tennessee Department of Health Statement on Immunizations
So, is he going to really apologize for his comments, and perhaps learn a bit more about vaccines, vaccine-preventable disease, and autism?
“Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Chairman of Children’s Health Defense (CHD), and Rolf Hazlehurst, parent of a vaccine-injured child, petitioned the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Senate and House Judiciary Committees today to investigate actions taken by federal personnel during the “Vaccine Court” Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP).”
Kennedy and Hazlehurst claim to have evidence of “obstruction of justice and appallingly consequential fraud by two DOJ lawyers who represented the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2007.”
Kennedy and Hazlehurst claim that “that the leading HHS expert, whose written report was used to deny compensation to over 5,000 petitioners in the OAP, provided clarification to the DOJ lawyers that vaccines could, in fact, cause autism in children with underlying and otherwise benign mitochondrial disorders.”
Who is this expert?
It is Andrew Zimmerman, MD, a pediatric neurologist.
There is also a claim that Dr. Zimmerman, along with Dr. Richard Kelley, who was also an expert witness in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceedings, served as expert witnesses in a medical malpractice case against a pediatrician who vaccinated a child, supposedly causing him to become autistic.
Yates Hazlehurst, who was the second test case in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings.
Dr. Zimmerman admits that there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, but also believes that there are some exceptions, and that vaccines can cause regressive autism in some kids with mitochondrial disorders.
Dr. Zimmerman also clarified that it is not just immunizations, but infections, fever, and other inflammatory responses that can lead to regressive autism.
And Dr. Zimmerman would have testified to it in the Cedillo case (the first test case in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings), if he had been allowed to.
Except that upon review of the Cedillo case, Dr. Zimmerman had concluded that “there is no evidence of an association between autism and the alleged reaction to MMR and Hg, and it is more likely than not, that there is a genetic basis for autism in this child.”
Apparently, he had changed his mind later, even though he continues to say that all evidence points to the fact that vaccines don’t cause autism.
“Dr. Zimmerman subsequently submitted a second expert opinion on behalf of Hannah Poling, which in effect states that she suffers autism as a result of a vaccine injury. The same government officials, who submitted and relied upon Dr. Zimmerman’s first expert opinion as evidence in the O.A.P., secretly conceded the case of Hannah Poling and placed it under seal so that the evidence in the case could not be used in the O.A.P. or known by the public.”
Memorandum Regarding Misconduct By The United States Department Of Justice And The United States Department Of Health And Human Services During The Omnibus Autism Proceeding As To The Expert Opinions Of Dr. Andrew Zimmerman
But what about the “second expert opinion” from Dr. Zimmerman?
According to Poling’s mother, “Dr. Zimmerman was not an expert nor was he asked to be an expert on Poling’s case. The government conceded her case before ANY opinion was rendered or given.”
What about Dr. Richard Kelley?
“As noted above, an important consideration for treatment of AMD is that “normal” inflammation can impair mitochondrial function. Although most infections cannot be avoided, certain measures can limit the risk of injury during infection or other causes of inflammation… We believe it is much better to immunize with DTaP than risk infection with highly inflammatory and potentially damaging community-acquired pertussis.”
Dr. Richard Kelley on Evaluation and Treatment of Patients with Autism and Mitochondrial Disease
While he seems to believe that vaccines can trigger regressive autism in some kids with mitochondrial disease, he admits that other kinds of inflammation can do it too, including vaccine-preventable diseases.
“We believe it is much better to immunize with DTaP than risk infection with highly inflammatory and potentially damaging community-acquired pertussis.”
And again, so does Dr. Zimmerman, to the point that in many cases, he thinks that even kids with mitochondrial disorders should be vaccinated.
“…the MMR vaccine has been temporally associated, if rarely, with regressions — with regression in AMD and other mitochondrial disease when given in the second year. Doubtless some of these regressions are coincidental, since the usual age for giving the MMR falls within the typical window of vulnerability for AMD regression.”
“The undersigned has reviewed and considered the filed reports from these experts and finds that the opinions of the experts lend support to the conclusions reached in this decision. In reaching the conclusions set forth in this decision, however, the undersigned relies more heavily on the testimony and reports of the experts who were observed and heard during the hearings.”
Hazlehurst v. Secretary of HHS
So where is the fraud in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings?
Is it that the Poling case files have been kept under seal and hidden from public view?
“Finally, and perhaps for purposes of Rolf’s request that Poling’s records be released to the public, Jon and I have not allowed the release of Hxxxx’s records nor will we ever willingly allow third parties to tear apart her medical history which includes other close family members as well as things that should have never been in the record to begin with.”
While we should all care about fraud in our court system, we should all also care about folks who push misinformation about vaccines and try to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, especially when they use autistic kids to do it.
“I do think that — that there was much information — misinformation brought about by Dr. Wakefield and it’s — this has set the field back. I think that — that we — we have worked very hard to try to reassure the public and I agree with doing that because I am very supportive of vaccinations, immunizations in general.”
While Dr. Zimmerman truly believes that future research might find a way to identify a very small subset of kids with mitochondrial disorders that worsen after they get their vaccines (or infections or other types of inflammation), this doesn’t apply to the great majority of autistic kids or even the great majority of kids with regressive autism.
Even Dr. Zimmerman only seems to speak of an “uncommon relationship” that “is not evident in studies that have been done to date.”
And none of the researchers he mentions, including Richard Frye, Shannon Rose, Joe (Jill?) James, or Dmitriy Niyazov seem to have actually studied vaccines, only possible relationships between autism and mitochondrial conditions.
“The claims by RFK Jr. and Handley draw on something that was not, in fact, a fraud, that is misrepresented as having a dramatic impact on the Omnibus Autism Proceedings when it had little to no effect.”
Plus ça change – anti-vaccine activists revive the Hannah Poling case
The former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana (1983-2013) has been described as being “antivaccine through and through” and “organized quackery’s best friend in Congress.”
Dan Burton held over 20 Congressional hearings trying to prove that there was a link between vaccines and autism.
Hearings that gave a high profile platform to Andrew Wakefield and are best described as:
“carefully choreographed to generate as much negative feeling toward the vaccination system as possible.”
Arthur Allen on Vaccine The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver
Who replaced Dan Burton?
It seems to be U.S. Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL), who has been described as “vying to take over the title of the most antivaccine legislator in the U.S. Congress since Dan Burton retired.”
He got a little help from Rep. Darrell Issa, who conducted a meeting of the Subcommittee of Government Operations in 2014, Examining the Federal Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders.
“Okay. Let’s stop it right there. Because every time we have ever talked about doing one of those studies, some idiot in the media says I am suggesting that children intentionally don’t get vaccinated. And I don’t know that anybody ever has ever proposed that. But there are plenty of children whose parents will not allow them to be vaccinated. There are plenty of cultures where children are not vaccinated. And there are other reasons children are not vaccinated. And there are children who take large doses of vaccination, and children whose parents decide to have them take one vaccination at a time to avoid thimerosal. And I have not been able to ascertain that there has actually been a legitimate study done that wasn’t tainted by the touch of the international colossal scumbag Poul Thorsen.”
Rep. Bill Posey questioning NIH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. in the Congressional hearing on Examining the Federal Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders
Who else might be joining him?
There is Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
Maloney also spoke at a 2012 hearing planned by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on the federal response to rising autism rates.
“Are you looking at vaccination? Is that part of your studies? I have a question. Are you looking at vaccination? Are you having a study on vaccination and the fact that they’re cramming them down and having kids have nine at one time. Is that a cause? Do you have any studies on vaccination?”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in a hearing on Rising Autism Rates
Rep. Carolyn Maloney was also a co-sponsor of Rep. Bill Posey’s 2015 Vaccine Safety Study Act bill, which called for “a comprehensive study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States, and for other purposes,” even though many experts have long pointed out the problems with using intentionally unvaccinated folks as a comparison group.
But Rep Maloney got her start long before Bill Posey ever came to Congress…
In 2006, in response to a series of articles by Dan Olmstead, who later created the website, Age of Autism, Rep Maloney held a briefing at the National Press Club where she proposed the Comprehensive Study of Autism Epidemic Act of 2006, a bill that sounds awfully similar to Posey’s Vaccine Safety Study Act.
Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) was another co-sponsor.
But we shouldn’t forget Rep. Dave Weldon MD (R-Fl), who introduced the Mercury-Free Vaccines Act of 2004 and the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act of 2007. Weldon also sent a number of letters to Julie Gerberding questioning a study about thimerosal by Thomas Verstraeten, a study that was investigated and cleared by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in 2005. Because he was a doctor, Rep. Burton also had Weldon do a lot of the questioning during his hearings.
And there is also Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who was a cosponsor when Maloney reintroduced the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act in 2009.
Not surprisingly, many of these members of Congress have been getting donations from anti-vaccine organizations.
In contrast to all of the folks above, there was Rep. Henry A Waxman (D-CA), who retired after 40 years in Congress, but not before:
fighting back against Dan Burton’s misinformation in his hearings about vaccines
introducing the Vaccine Access and Supply Act of 2005
authoring the stand-alone Vaccines for Children legislation that was included in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 that created the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program
introducing the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986
But his work on vaccines has probably been the most low-profile thing that Waxman did, which is why he is often described as “one of the most important Congressman ever.”
You’ll never hear that said about Dan Burton, Bill Posey, Dave Weldon, or Carolyn Maloney…