Our Response to Maine CDC’s Chief, Kenneth Albert, Announcement of Support For Laws Infringing on Uncoerced Informed Consent in Vaccination

UPDATED 10/15/15: The Portland Press Herald has erroneously reported that Kenneth Albert supported some form of LD 471 in the future, and our response has been amended to reflect this new information.  This is one of dozens of examples of false, incomplete and misleading information on vaccines and vaccine policy reported by Joe Lawlor and the Portland Press Herald over the past year.  In light of that, the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice frankly should have known better than to take the paper’s reporting at face value, and should have checked with Mr. Albert’s office first to confirm his position before responding.  Apologies to Mr. Albert, and we will endeavor to fact check any such claims by the PPH in the future.

Unfortunately the bulk of our complaints against Maine CDC still stand.

The Maine CDC’s response and additional discussion can be found below.

Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice 
Response to: Maine CDC director supports strengthening state’s vaccine laws
http://www.pressherald.com/2015/10/13/maine-cdc-director-supports-strengthening-states-vaccine-laws

October 14, 2015

Kenneth Albert And The Maine CDC, Supports The Removal Of The Vaccine Choice Rights Of Parents, and Denial Of Informed Consent In Vaccination, While Refusing To Meet With The Parents Of Vaccine Injured Children To Address Their Questions And Concerns *

Last spring, The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice, Maine’s only vaccine safety/vaccine choice watchdog group, submitted a list of questions to the Maine Immunization Program, The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Maine Medical Association on behalf of the Maine parents that are opting out of one or more vaccines. All three organizations * have refused to answer these questions and refused to meet with us. At the same time they are pushing legislation that would require our members to be lectured on vaccine safety by a physician, whose systematic and widespread ignorance of federal vaccine injury guidelines is among our chief complaints. (* Kenneth Albert has issued a statement in response to the Portland Press Herald article saying that he does not endorse the legislation to restrict vaccine exemption rights, so while all three organizations are refusing to meet with families, only the Maine AAP and the MMA are pushing legislation to coerce parents into vaccinating against their better judgement.)

These basic questions, which all Maine citizens have the right to know, include:

– What is the vaccine injury rate in Maine?

– May we have the name of a physician in Maine who is experienced and qualified in properly diagnosing and treating vaccine adverse events so that we may have children having serious reactions assessed and treated quickly, and who can correctly document reactions for those who are permanently injured so they can be compensated by the HHS Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?

– Why has the link to the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program listed on the Maine DHHS web site been misnamed as the “National Vaccine Compensation Program,” as it prevents parents and physicians from finding information on the program that they need, and when will that be changed to comply with the new Maine law requiring the program be listed?

– Can the AAP reconcile for us their conflicting testimony before the Maine Legislature that “vaccines are safe,” and that, “vaccines are mostly safe” with that of their testimony before the US Supreme Court that all FDA approved vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe?”

– Physicians in Maine are almost completely ignorant of the federal vaccine injury guidelines.  Your own organizations have submitted testimony to the Maine Legislature in 2015 showing you didn’t even know of the existence Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, that is the federal repository for vaccine injury information.  What are your organizations doing to educate yourselves and physicians in Maine on federal guidelines for vaccine injury so that doctors can properly recognize them in their patients, prevent further damage and provide appropriate care?

– When physicians or medical groups give false vaccine safety information to patients, what is the process by which we can go about having them held accountable and properly trained on evidence based vaccine risk information?

In addition to his lack of willingness to answer or questions, Kenneth Albert’s last email to us in response to our request for basic information about the Maine Immunization Program ended by inferring that if we wanted our questions answered, we should file a lawsuit.

http://mainevaxchoice.org/index.php/news/71-questions-for-the-maine-immunization-program

http://mainevaxchoice.org/index.php/news/72-questions-for-the-maine-chapter-of-the-american-academy-of-pediatrics

http://mainevaxchoice.org/index.php/news/73-questions-for-the-maine-medical-association

Further, Maine DHHS has ignored complaints filed by us against Maine medical leaders that are providing blatantly false information about vaccine safety in order to increase their vaccine sales.  The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice has refiled our complaints with DHHS today.

How does the Maine CDC get away with refusing to answer the questions of parents of vaccine injured children, and then push laws that presuppose that these questions have been answered and are readily available from anyone who qualified to administer a vaccine? (correction: while Maine CDC is refusing to answer questions, they are not pushing the law they were accused of supporting.)

If Mr. Albert, the Maine AAP, or the Maine Medical association were truly interested in providing Mainers with, “Informed Consent” in vaccination, they would meet with the Maine parents who are declining one or more vaccines and answer their questions, address their concerns, and fix the massive holes in vaccine safety and care for the vaccine injured that exist in the state of Maine.

Marijuana growers in Maine have a standing forum where they can meet with law enforcement officials to discuss problems and policy, but the Maine DHHS refuses provide any forum for parents of vaccine injured children, or parents concerned that their child is at risk for vaccine injury.

Dozens of Maine families appeared before the Maine Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee in May to testify against LD 471, the bill being supported by Kenneth Albert.  (Again, Mr. Albert does not support this bill.) These families also stayed long into the evening to testify on behalf of LD 1076, a vaccine consumer protection bill that would require: Maine physicians to know and use the US federal guidelines on vaccine injury, Maine DHHS to have a information program to help and support families of vaccine injured children and connect them with the services and medical support that they need, and to create a complaint process for families to access when false claims or malpractice occurs regarding vaccination.

After a full day of testimony by parents which outlined extreme negligence in medical care with regard to adverse vaccine reaction, not one parent was contacted by any of the organizations supporting higher vaccine rates through patient intimidation to offer them help or information.

These stories included children’s unmet medical needs following severe vaccine reactions, parental inability to get physicians to help them receive compensation through the federal vaccine injury compensation program, a medical examiner who refused to investigate the likely vaccine death of a recently vaccinated infant, being bullied in doctors’ offices to vaccinate and being fired from medical practices, even when safety questions were not answered, and massive corruption scandals unfolding in the CDC’s National Immunization Program.

We have asked for sound, evidence based, detailed information on vaccine safety and have been refused.  We have asked for information on how to help our sick children and have been refused.  We asked that doctors be educated on the HHS vaccine injury guidelines and have been refused.

It has been stated, and bears repeating in light of the current actions of medical officials in Maine,  that once you have a vaccine injured child, you are on your own.

It is clear that since Congress removed the rights of Americans to sue pharmaceutical companies and medical entities for vaccine injury and death, that vaccine interests have decided to abuse that legal loop hole to deny even basic informed consent rights to families.  The only legal standing that vaccine injury families have in Maine is the right to appear before Committees in the Maine Legislature for three minutes, and tell our stories.

The bill that was rejected this year is clearly just a bill to force families to be bullied by medical providers on an individual basis in private, as the organizations that support it won’t answer our collective questions in public.

In fact we are not invited to the discussion over the removal of our rights.  No invitation or announcement of Mr. Albert’s event at the Maine School of Law was issued to us so that we could even appear in the audience and ask questions that impact the removal of our rights or the care of our injured children, much less share the dais to discuss our true complaints against the current vaccine program.

The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice, which represents more than 500 Maine families working to retain their right to informed consent in vaccination, issues a standing, open invitation to Governor LePage, Kenneth Albert, the Maine Immunization Program, the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maine Medical Association and the Maine Law Policy Group to meet with us publicly, so that they may hear the concerns and answer the questions of the those Mainers who no longer adhere to the US Centers for Disease Control recommended vaccine schedule, the most aggressive vaccine schedule in the world.

You should not be having policy meetings about us, without us.

Ginger Taylor, MS
Director
Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice

 

Follow up:

This morning we received this response from Maine’s Public Health Information Officer, and engaged in the following exchange:

Subject: Vaccination story
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2015 12:49:58 +0000
From: Martins, John A <John.A.Martins@maine.gov>
To: ginger@mainevaxchoice.org <ginger@mainevaxchoice.org>

 

Good morning, Ginger:

 

You may have seen Joe Lawlor’s story this morning.  This is the letter to the editor we sent to the Press Herald to clarify Ken’s positon and his discussion with the reporter.

 

Thank you,

 

John Martins

Public Health Information Officer/

Director of Internal and Program Communications

(207) 287-5347

To the editor:

I want to clarify misleading comments in Tuesday’s article entitled: Maine CDC director supports strengthening state’s vaccine laws. It is accurate to report that both Dr. Christopher Pezzullo and I support vaccination and the education of parents that informs their decision-making. However, reporter Joe Lawlor inaccurately leapt to the conclusion that I endorse specific, previously proposed legislation that places requirements on parents who seek a philosophical exemption.

As I stated to the Press Herald, any legislation that encourages dialogue between providers and parents that reinforces the importance of vaccines and the low-risk associated with them, and positions the parent to make an informed decision, is worthy of consideration.

However, the proposed legislation went much further and, if passed into law, parents seeking a philosophical exemption would be legally required to visit a doctor, undergo counseling, and obtain paperwork proving they had done so. It also mandated parents to produce that paperwork to schools and daycares where the child enrolls. These additional steps create a heavy-handed and unnecessary burden for providers, parents, and schools and may have the unintended consequence of strengthening the opposition of parents who do not support vaccination.

Maine CDC will continue to do all it can to educate about the importance of vaccination because it offers the best protection against many deadly diseases. We recognize the critical importance of informed consent while also acknowledging parental rights.

 

Kenneth Albert, Director and Chief Operating Officer

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention

 

 

From: Ginger Taylor [mailto:ginger@mainevaxchoice.org]
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 10:35 AM
To: Martins, John A
Subject: Re: Vaccination story

 

Mr. Martins,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  We will amend our response appropriately.

However, the basics of our complaints against DHHS remain.  Since the hearings in May where the large gaps in the vaccine program were openly discussed in the Maine Legislatures Health and Human Services Committee, your agency has refused to meet with us, refused to answer our questions, refused to respond to our pleas for help for our injured children, refused to provide us with the name of a doctor in Maine that is qualified to assess, document and treat vaccine injury, and  refused to educate Maine medical providers on federal vaccine injury guidelines.  Mr. Albert has simply sent an ambiguous email that seems to suggest that we should agree to disagree (on what I am not sure) and that if we want a response to our queries we should file a lawsuit.

Additionally, the department continues to make unfounded vaccine safety claims.  Even in this press release, Mr. Albert claims that vaccines are “low risk.”  In fact there is NO RESEARCH on what the increased risks are associated with participating in the vaccine program may be.  The CDC has testified before Congress that they have never looked at health outcomes for fully vaccinated children as compared to unvaccinated children, and the Institute of Medicine report on the vaccine program confirmed that no such research exists.  No risk benefit analysis can be undertaken on the recommended vaccine program, because there is no risk information to weigh against the benefits. 

So our open invitation to a public meeting with Mr. Albert stands.  We will wait to hear from DHHS on when they are ready to deal with the complaints we have registered with the department.

 

Ginger Taylor, MS
Director
Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice
207-200-8469

 

Subject: RE: Vaccination story
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2015 14:35:56 +0000
From: Martins, John A <John.A.Martins@maine.gov>
To: Ginger Taylor <ginger@mainevaxchoice.org>

I will forward this along to the appropriate parties.  Thank you for your clarification as well.

John Martins

Public Health Information Officer/

Director of Internal and Program Communications

(207) 287-5347

The Portland Press Herald has not corrected the article in question, but has posted a second article reporting that Albert has “backtracked” on his claim. 
http://www.pressherald.com/2015/10/14/maine-public-health-director-backtracks-on-vaccine-comments/

The Portland Press Herald is also screening out the comments on the article submitted by the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice, and will not allow them to be posted.

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