LOS ANGELES (CBM) – Attorney and activist, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is putting $10,000 on the table.
His concern that innocent kids in California could suffer serious medical injuries because of the impending “School Vaccine Bill” is so great, that he is willing to put up his own money to anybody who will debate him on the science of vaccine safety. The existing body of science around vaccine safety as it pertains to Black boys in particular is especially troubling to Kennedy.
The controversial bill is only steps from becoming law.
“They will not debate me on the science,” says Kennedy. “They can’t debate me so they try to marginalize me.”
Kennedy joined a crowd of hundreds of parents, activists, civic leaders and others at a standing-room only town hall meeting, opposing the bill at the Church of Scientology Community Center in Los Angeles on June 18. He told the audience that Senate Bill 277, a piece legislation that would remove personal belief and religious exemptions for vaccines, is not safe for our children.
The measure, authored by Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) would permanently ban from all public and private schools and all daycares any child who has not received all of the vaccines on California’s school immunization schedule. The bill will universally mandate vaccines for 10 different illnesses ranging from highly infectious illnesses like measles, to blood-borne illnesses like hepatitis B, to non-communicable illnesses like tetanus.
Opponents of the measure are up in arms since the bill takes away all of a child’s educational options except homeschooling, unless a parent gives up the right to choose if and when her child receives every dose of every vaccine. Under the bill, to be unconditionally allowed into school or daycare, all vaccine doses must be taken on time and on the CDC’s strict schedule, with no delays, no splitting of shots and no skipped vaccines, unless a recognized medical exemption applies.
Kennedy traveled from New York to voice his dismay of SB 277. “CDC is a cesspool of corruption because of its financial ties with the vaccine companies,” Kennedy said.
The U.S. Government has a history of conducting studies on minority populations without their consent. There is the well-known Tuskegee experiment that, all these years later, still shocks the conscience. At the town hall, Kennedy shared with the audience another lesser-known experiment done on unsuspecting minority populations. In 1989, the government administered unlicensed measles vaccines to 1,500 minority infants in Los Angeles, without telling parents the vaccines were experimental. According to the CDC, the unlicensed vaccine did not injure any of the Los Angeles children. However, similar clinical trials were conducted in Haiti, Senegal and Ghana, and within two years there was an increased death rate among female infants who received the more potent of two dosages being studied. Due to these findings, the Los Angeles study was halted in 1991.
And now, there are new revelations about a landmark CDC study that are fueling the opposition to SB 277. At the town hall, Dr. Brian Hooker, a biochemical engineer and professor at Simpson University in Redding who opposes SB 277, also spoke. He discussed his involvement in bringing to light CDC scientist Dr. William Thompson’s confessions about his concerns over CDC vaccine safety studies. Hooker said he had many phone calls with Thompson. “I made the decision to record four of the last phone conversations I had with Dr. Thompson without his knowledge, based on the revelations of gross harm to children,” said Hooker.
Thompson, a Senior Scientist at the CDC with 17 years of tenure, has admitted, in a statement released by his lawyers in August of 2014, that he and his co-authors omitted statistically significant data from a landmark 2004 study that investigated a correlation between the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine and autism. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics, and concluded no link exists between MMR and autism. But Thompson says he and his co-authors omitted data that showed an increased risk of autism in African-American boys who received the MMR vaccine before the age of 36 months.
Thompson says final study protocols were not followed in omitting African- American boys from the research data. Despite Thompson’s admissions, the study has never been retracted.
Thompson has turned over CDC documents to Florida Congressman Bill Posey and is cooperating with Congress. Concerned parents around the country are waiting for Congress to subpoena Dr. Thompson to testify about his involvement in CDC vaccine safety studies and his admissions of elimination of data showing a link to autism from a key and often-cited safety study. Meanwhile, most of the public is unaware of Thompson’s revelations.
“Because of the economic strength of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s almost impossible to get this story out to the American public,” Kennedy said. “It’s a trillion dollar industry. They spend more on lobbying than any other industry. Pharmaceutical companies spend twice as much as the oil industry to buy our politicians.” Kennedy added that two CDC departments – one responsible for scheduling vaccines and the other for reviewing their safety – have especially close financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.
On June 18, the Sacramento Bee published a report disclosing that pharmaceutical companies spent nearly $3 million more during the 2013-2014 legislative session lobbying lawmakers, the governor, the state pharmacists’ board and other agencies, according to state filings. They donated around $95,000 – the largest individual gift to a candidate – to Senator Pan who is SB 277’s principal author.
During the town hall meeting, people questioned why state legislators are moving forward with this piece of legislation after learning of the statements made by Thompson and when innocent children’s safety may be at stake. Opponents of the bill insist Thompson needs to testify in an open congressional hearing before California can proceed with the bill.
Minister Tony Mohammad, Los Angeles’ representative for the Nation of Islam, said all he wants is the truth. But most Black lawmakers are not listening to him and other opponents of the bill.
Muhammad said he received a call from African-American state senator, Isadore Hall (D-South Bay). “He told me ‘Minister I’ve already voted, but I could be wrong about this. If you bring Dr. Hooker and Mr. Kennedy and show the facts, he said he’ll write a letter now and it will be on the governor’s desk on Monday, asking the governor not to sign that bill.”
Meanwhile, supporters of SB 277 are voicing full-throated support of the legislation even in light of the alarming information the opposition is presenting that raises questions about the CDC’s vaccine safety studies.
In a June 18 statement, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer re-affirmed that he backs SB 277.
“As state policymakers, we have an obligation to review all legislative policies for the best interest of all Californians,” he said. “The diverse communities that we represent have a notably higher rate of vaccination compliance than many others, and with good reason. Studies have proven that communities with low vaccine compliance are at particular risk of spreading preventable and sometimes fatal diseases.”
Brenda Darcel Lee, president of the California Black Health Network (CBHN), says children are better off being vaccinated and that SB 277 needs to be passed into law. She says her organization, whose mission is “improving the health status of people of African-American descent in the state,” agrees with the CDC’s statement that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism in African-American infants.
“We take issue with fear mongering and spreading of misinformation about the efficacy of vaccination. There is no doubt that vaccines save lives.” She said. “There is no reputable science that suggests black children or boys are at risk for any diseases because of vaccination.”
Opponents disagree with Lee. They say they understand the importance of public safety and that is why questions raised by Thompson’s statements must be answered before SB 277 can be considered. Opponents are perplexed and troubled by certain Black legislators’ and by Lee’s lack of concern about the safety of African-American infants in light of Thompson’s admissions. They question why is it so urgent to pass the bill now.
“Why are you in such a hurry? Why are you rushing this bill through when there are no problems?” Muhammad is asking African-American lawmakers and supporters of the bill. “All we wish to do is share data with them that there is a possibility that vaccines are injuring Black boys at a rate that is nearly five times worse than their white counterparts,” he said at the town hall meeting.
The California State Assembly’s scheduled vote on SB 277 this Thursday, June 25th.
California Black Media