When the producers of PBS's Frontline approached me to be interviewed for their new documentary "The Vaccine War," I accepted with a simple condition: doctors and scientists on our side of the vaccine-autism debate needed to have a voice, too.
Prior to agreeing to the interview, Frontline sent us this email:
"Frontline will carry out a detailed and even-handed investigation including voices from all sides of the controversy including parents, activists, physicians, scientists, lawyers, politicians and vaccine manufacturers."
I've learned to be wary of media who try to simplify the vaccine-autism debate into a "Parents vs. the Science" spin, so I went further and agreed to do the interview only if Dr. Jay Gordon, a well-known pediatrician here in Los Angeles, sat beside me. (Dr. Jay also sat for his own two hour interview.)
For those who've watched the show, you know that the Frontline producers broke their promise and presented our entire community's position through my interview and just two other parents -- Barbara Loe Fisher and J.B. Handley.
Where are the doctors and scientists who support our community and support the idea that vaccines may be a trigger for autism? In Frontline's world, they don't exist.
Imagine how much more credible the countless stories of children regressing into autism after vaccine appointments would be if a doctor were saying the same thing.
Luckily for all of us parents, Dr. Gordon has not stayed silent since the show aired. In a piece for HuffPost earlier this week, he wrote:
"Vaccines are neither all good -- as this biased, miserable PBS treacle would have you believe...You had a point to prove and removed material from your show which made the narrative balanced. 'Distraught, confused moms against important, well-spoken, calm doctors' was your narrative with a deep sure voice to, literally, narrate the entire artifice."
Also missing from Frontline were interviews from any of the dozens of scientists who have published studies in medical journals supporting the position of all the parents.
And, where was Autism Speaks, the largest autism organization in the world, and a group that hasn't been a huge supporter of our community?
Maybe Frontline had seen a recent letter written by Dr. Geraldine Dawson, the chief science officer of Autism Speaks, where she wrote:
"Recent studies point to a key role of the immune system in the biology of ASD [autism], raising questions about the effects of the significant immune challenges associated with vaccinations, particularly when delivered in combination and early in life...We believe that the question of whether immunization is associated with an increased risk for ASD is of extremely high priority."
Frontline's trip to Denmark to interview a scientist was meant to convince parents that vaccines have been studied all over the world and so they must be safe.
What Frontline didn't mention was that the Danish scientist interviewed works for a vaccine maker, that the paper discussed showed Denmark's rate of autism at 1 in 2,500 (versus the U.S. rate of 1 in 100) or that Denmark's vaccine schedule for kids is 12 shots versus 36 here in the U.S.
And, parents hear nothing about the Danish scientist's colleague and co-author Poul Thorsen, who recently stole $2 million from the CDC and is reportedly on the run from authorities.
When Dr. Wakefield is profiled, there's no recent interview with him to tell his story, just old media clips and one side's take. What about Dr. Wakefield's recent work finally comparing vaccinated monkeys with unvaccinated monkeys?
Frontline's piece also lacked any sense of proportion. Yes, a wave of twelve children with measles in San Diego is a troubling thing. But, there are more than 20,000 children in San Diego with autism! 20,000 vs. 12? When you really look at the numbers, you realize how huge our autism problem really is.
I believe our bloated vaccine schedule has created a scenario where there is now too much of a good thing. All drugs have side-effects, particularly if many are given at one time. Why should vaccines be any different?
The Frontline viewer heard nothing about the more than 1,000 reported deaths from vaccination or the nearly $2 billion paid by the US government to vaccine injury victims.
If the risk of vaccinating is really a 1 in 100 chance of a child getting autism, what will happen to the vaccine program?
Cooler heads need to get involved with this problem, rather than multi-millionaire vaccine inventors. Dr. Bob Sears, another doctor interviewed by Frontline but cut out of the actual show, offered a possible solution:
"In my mind, the only way we'd really put this issue to rest is to do a very large scientific study that looks at hundreds of thousands of children who are vaccinated versus hundreds of thousands of children that are not vaccinated, and we compare the rates of autism in those two groups."
I was encouraged at the end of the show when the health officials complained about the power and existence of the Internet, as if immediate information were somehow a threat to the vaccine program.
Parents, when people are blaming a problem on the availability of information -- like China trying to keep their population in the dark -- you know there's a bigger problem, and another side to the story -- a side that Frontline knowingly chose not to share.