If there is a God, he must be anti vaccine. But then again,
justice delayed is justice denied.
Anyway, for those too young to remember, Alan Hevesi was the NYS assemblyman
from Forest Hills who had co-sponsored New York's "No Shots, No School" in 1979
when he was deputy majority leader in the State Assembly.
I became an vaccine activist at this time. It was a time when the average
citizen was unaware of any controversies relating to vaccination, mainly because
there were far fewer vaccine injuries than there are today----following 3
decades of massive enforcement of Hevesi's handiwork.
Hevesi later became chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, and then went on
to become State Comptroller when he published a 200-page report in 1998 urging
even greater enforcement of the vaccine mandates.
After a federal circuit court decision, the law that he fostered (PHL 2164) had
to be amended in 1989 to permit adherents of any religion to qualify for the
But before that occurred, I met with Hevesi. With the help of Queens College
P.I.R.G chapter, I organized a forum at the college around 1983. About 50
parents attended, including my mom and my aunt. My mentor on vaccination, Barry
Mesh, was the speaker. Barry's organic produce store was just 3 blocks from the
campus. Following the 80-minute speech, there was a question and answer
Alan Hevesi, to his credit, was the only politician who attended it. I sat
opposite him in the large classroom, and watched him squirm as Barry described
how the polio epidemic of the 1950s was a hoax. I included Barry's research in
my article here:
Hevesi had made a couple of points following the speech, both effectively
rebutted by Barry. I will make available some of Barry's public speeches (and
interview with Gary Null) in the early 80s soon. But this one incident may have
been the first time a major pol heard such heresy.
AND NOW, SOME DIVINE JUSTICE:
Disgraced former Controller Alan Hevesi gets up to 4 years in jail for pension
By Jose Martinez and Kenneth Lovett
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Friday, April 15th 2011, 10:54 AM
April 15, 2011, 10:42 am
Hevesi Sentenced to One to Four Years
By JOHN ELIGON
Updated | 12:01 p.m. Former State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi was sentenced
Friday morning to one to four years in prison for his role in a sprawling
corruption scheme involving New York State’s $125 billion pension fund.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A growing number of parents across the United
States are opting out of mandatory vaccination requirements for their children
and health experts are concerned this could lead to outbreaks of deadly diseases
such as measles, polio and whooping cough.
In all, nearly 38,000 children have been exempted from receiving the usual bout
of childhood immunizations, according to figures from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Also, the numbers appear to be increasing
dramatically in several states, including Colorado, Oregon, Washington and
The situation has become such a concern in some states that they have asked for
assistance from the CDC.
"It's getting at the level that we're having concerns," Carol Stanwyck, an
epidemiologist in CDC's immunization services division, told United Press
International. She said the CDC has started to work with state public health
agencies to determine the reasons for the increases.
State requirements for school enrollment generally mandate inoculations for
diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio. Some
states have added chicken pox and hepatitis B. However, some children cannot be
vaccinated for medical reasons, such as allergies to vaccine components, and
nearly every state offers some type of exemption for religious or philosophical
The reasons for the jump in exemptions are unclear, although Stanwyck said CDC
expects to know more in about a year. A contributing factor appears to be an
increasing concern among parents about the safety of vaccines. The available
data do not specify parental reasons for opting out of vaccination requirements,
but nearly half of the approximately 38,000 exempted children were granted their
exemptions for religious reasons -- an approach often employed by parents who
fear vaccines carry too many risks.
Though vaccines can cause minor side effects, most health professionals say the
available scientific evidence is conclusive that the chances of serious
complications are extremely rare. Moreover, the chances of developing serious
complications from vaccines are much lower than the risks of severe illnesses
and death from the diseases.
"The rates of parents that are taking non-medical exemptions to school
immunization laws are increasing in many states and are probably increasing
nationally," Dan Salmon of Johns Hopkins University's Institute for Vaccine
Safety in Baltimore, told UPI. "This poses a greater risk of disease outbreaks
and even poses risks to vaccinated children," he said.
Recent studies have found exempted children are up to 35 times more likely to
contract measles and six times more likely to contract whooping cough than
vaccinated children. For example, a study of measles and whooping cough cases in
Colorado between 1987 and 1998 found schools that had higher rates of exemptions
were more likely to experience outbreaks and at least 11 percent of vaccinated
children who became infected with measles contracted it from an exempted
"It's not just that parents only endangering their own kids," Dr. Anthony
Robbins, professor of public health at Tufts University School of Medicine in
Boston, told UPI. "Their decision results in reduced protection for every other
kid in the community," said Robbins, who ran the National Vaccine Program during
the Clinton administration.
Although vaccines help the body's immune system fight off diseases, they do not
confer 100-percent protection. An important goal of vaccination lies in
achieving a high level of immunization within a community -- otherwise known as
herd immunity. This reduces the chance that any one person will contract a
disease, which in turn reduces the likelihood of diseases being able to spread
through a community.
Dr. Tom Pendergrass, a pediatrician at the University of Washington in Seattle
and chair of the American Academy of Pediatricians' committee on state
government affairs, said the increase in exemptions has put his own state at
risk "for another big outbreak of whooping cough among infants," or even
measles. In 2002, there were 575 cases of whooping cough, a three-fold increase
from the previous year, Pendergrass told UPI.
Exemptions in Washington have increased from 3.4 percent of kindergarten-aged
children five years ago to the current level of 4.1 percent -- or more than
The increase "appears to be mainly due to philosophical and religious exemptions
and not medical exemptions," Cindy Gleason, health educator for the immunization
program at the Washington Department of Health in Olympia, told UPI.
In Colorado, which has the lowest vaccination coverage of any state, there has
been a marked increase in exemption rates, jumping tenfold over the past 10
years, Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of
Public Health and Environment in Denver, told UPI. The exemption rate increased
from 0.3 percent of kindergartners to 3.0 percent, Calonge said.
"Although overall it has low impact, it is concerning that it's on the
increase," he said.
In Oregon, the number of exemptions has doubled since 1999 and the bulk of this
was due an increase in religious exemptions, Lorraine Duncan, immunization
program manager in the state's Department of Human Services in Portland, told
In one Oregon town, Ashland, the rate of religious exemptions is a staggering 15
percent, Duncan said. "We're really worried about it," she added, noting the
area currently is experiencing outbreaks of whooping cough.
Ashland is of particular concern because its location could facilitate spread of
disease to other areas, including internationally, Duncan said. The city, which
is close to the California border, is located on a major interstate highway, and
it contains a university that enrolls many international students.
Michigan -- one of the states that has requested CDC's assistance -- has the
largest exemption rate of any state --nearly six percent or more than 7,500
"We've seen small increase over the past few years," T.J. Bucholz, director of
communications for the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing, told
UPI. "It concerns us," Bucholz said, noting the health department will be
intensifying efforts in the next few months to communicate to parents the
importance of vaccination for their children.
Other states with high exemption rates include Wisconsin with 5 percent or 176
cases, Nebraska with 4.5 percent or more than 1,000, and Alaska with 4 percent
The rate ranges from 1 percent to 2.8 percent for several other states,
including Arizona, California, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming.
Opting out of vaccines could get easier
Published 11/13/2003 6:42 PM
WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- More states next year probably will follow the
example of Texas and Arkansas and pass legislation making it easier for
parents to exempt their children from mandatory vaccine requirements, health
experts told United Press International.
This trend concerns those experts because the more kids that go unvaccinated
the more likely it is for an outbreak to occur. There already are
indications more parents are applying for exemptions in Texas and Arkansas
as a result of the new laws.
The Texas and Arkansas laws -- driven largely by groups arguing that
vaccines carry too many risks -- passed earlier this year. The laws allow
parents to have their child exempted from the immunizations states require
for school enrollment, such as measles, whooping cough and polio.
Nearly every state offers exemptions for medical, religious or philosophical
reasons but most require parents to provide documentation proving their
requests are legitimate. The new Texas and Arkansas laws differ, however.
They do not require parents to provide a reason for deciding not to
vaccinate their children.
More than 1,400 parents in Texas have applied for the exemption and the
number of parents getting exemptions in Arkansas is expected to double from
the previous level.
Along with Arkansas and Texas, 11 other states introduced similar
legislation this year, Jo Donlin, program manager at the National Conference
of State Legislatures in Washington, told UPI. The legislation did not pass
in the other states, including Connecticut, Missouri, New York and West
Nonetheless, this represents nearly a doubling from last year, when only
seven states introduced such bills, and more states probably will introduce
similar legislation next year, Donlin said.
"It definitely will be on the legislative agenda of states," Donlin said.
"This is an issue that continues to be on the radar screen."
Suzette Chutze, executive director of the Arkansas chapter of the American
Academy of Pediatrics in Little Rock, said her group is concerned about the
effect the law will have in their state.
The AAP probably will prepare information their members can give to
concerned parents to inform them about the importance of getting required
inoculations for their children, Chutze said.
"The bottom line is nobody really knows how many exemptions will be given
and it will end up taking somebody getting hurt or dying before it changes,"
The legislatures of Texas and Arkansas do not meet next year so the earliest
the laws could be rescinded would be 2005.
-- Steve Mitchell
"Homeowners at times reportedly set dogs upon the
volunteer health workers. "
Province at heart of outbreak alleges anti-Muslim plot
Sunday, February 22, 2004 Posted: 7:58 PM EST (0058 GMT)
Oluwatope Ewunuga, 2, gets his thumb painted to show he was immunized in
Lagos, Nigeria, in this photo from October 24, 2003. KADUNA, Nigeria (AP) --
A northern state in Nigeria that is at the heart of a spreading polio
outbreak said Sunday that it would not relent on its boycott of a mass
vaccination program, which it has called a U.S. plot to spread AIDS and
infertility among Muslims.
"Kano state will not participate in tomorrow's polio campaign. Our team made
the discovery of contaminants first, remember," state government spokesman
Sule Ya'u Sule told The Associated Press, referring to tests the state says
its scientists conducted on the polio vaccine last year. "Unless we are
convinced by our committee [of health experts] that the oral polio vaccines
are safe, the exercise remains suspended in Kano state," Sule said.
Kano is one of 12 of Nigeria's 36 states that practices Shariah law, based on
the teachings in the Quran, Islam's holy book.
U.N. aid agencies insist the door-to-door drive to inoculate 63 million
children in 10 west and central African countries, including Nigeria, is
critical to stemming a polio outbreak spreading out from Nigeria's
predominantly Muslim north. Globally, the World Health Organization
says, the standoff endangers a widespread effort that had worked toward
stamping out polio. The 16- year-old public health project has reduced the
number of cases worldwide from 350,000 in 1988 to fewer than 1,000 last year.
Nigerian officials had hoped to resolve the dispute by dispatching a
team of scientists, politicians and Islamic religious leaders to
observe a battery of tests on the vaccines in South Africa and India earlier
Nigerian Health Minister Eyitayo Lambo would not divulge the outcome of the
visit, which he said ended last week. He gave no explanation of why the
results were not being revealed -- saying only that Nigeria's government
would forge ahead with the campaign regardless of opposition. "We are
not going to be bothered" by the boycott, Lambo told The Associated Press,
without elaborating. "The immunization is going ahead as planned. We have got
our results and we are going ahead with the immunization."
Mukhtar Sirajo, the state government spokesman in Kaduna, another of the
northern states where vaccinations had been blocked last year, told the AP
that his state had decided to allow the emergency immunization campaign to go
ahead. However, Sirajo did not rule out the possibility of the ban being
reintroduced if Kaduna decided the results of the latest tests cast new
doubts on the safety of the vaccines.
Immunization efforts "will not be stopped," he said. "But it is only fair
that we hear from the verification team, including all the stakeholders."
There was no immediate word Sunday on whether Zamfara, the third northern
state that had banned the vaccine, would now allow the emergency immunization
Tobe Ejorfo, 4, receives drops of polio vaccine at the Ore-Ofe nursery school
in Lagos, Nigeria, in this photo from October 24, 2003. Kano had been
expected to deny permission for the emergency campaign. In October,
similar door-to-door drives were blocked entirely in Kano, Zamfara and Kaduna.
Residents in other northern states where volunteers tried to administer the
oral vaccine house-to-house to toddlers and infants were frequently turned
away by residents. Homeowners at times reportedly set dogs upon the volunteer
health workers. The boycott by Kano, where 89 polio cases since January 2003
made it the epicenter of the outbreak, "puts more children at risk from being
crippled by polio, not only in Nigeria but also the region," said Gerrit
Beger, spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund in Abuja.
"We risk reversing our gains. We can't eradicate polio globally if everyone
does not take action," Beger said. Last year, Nigeria accounted for close to
half of the more than 700 polio cases documented worldwide. Many of the rest
were in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where officials say they are making
headway. In recent months, dozens of polio cases spread from Kano and other
predominantly Muslim states to other Nigerian states. The outbreak also
expanded to seven African countries where the disease was previously thought
to have been eradicated.
Kano state officials say their lab tests carried out late last year found
estrogen and other female sex hormones in the polio vaccine -- proof, they
say, that the vaccines are contaminated. "UNICEF has been immunizing children
around the globe for decades and our biggest wish is to continue to do the
job and eradicate polio once and for all in Nigeria and worldwide," the
organization said in a statement. "Any delay of immunization activities will
result in a wider spread of the virus, crippling more innocent children in
Nigeria and neighboring countries."
KADUNA, Nigeria Feb. 24 — Two more states in Nigeria's Islamic north joined a
boycott Tuesday of a massive polio immunization campaign, demanding
government proof the vaccines don't spread AIDS or sterility as Islamic
leaders contend. Nigeria, meanwhile, announced it would be days before it had
results of lab tests meant to prove the vaccine's safety too late to change
any minds among Muslim leaders in the four states that are blocking the
immunization campaign, due to end Thursday.
"This is an opportunity lost," U.N. Children's Fund spokesman Gerrit Beger
said, confirming that Niger and Bauchi states had joined the vaccine boycott
pending findings of the government-led investigation. Northern Nigeria
Islamic leaders say the immunization campaign is part of a U.S. plot to
depopulate Muslim northern Nigeria by spreading AIDS or sterilizing agents.
Northern states maintain their own lab tests show contaminants in the
Fourteen million people live in the four states that have blocked the
immunization. The World Health Organization says a polio outbreak spreading
from one of the states, Kano, has helped spread polio to seven African
nations where it had been eradicated. The outbreak and vaccine ban threaten a
16-year worldwide effort to wipe out polio globally by 2005, WHO says. WHO
launched the 10-nation emergency immunization campaign on Monday, sending
hundreds of thousands of volunteers door-to-door with vaccine to inoculate 63
On Tuesday, some Muslim families turned away vaccination teams even in states
where the campaign has been allowed. Complicating matters, Nigerian Muslim
tradition bans male strangers from entering homes with women and girls,
forcing the medical teams to send in girls as young as 14 to carry out the
inoculations. "It is difficult to train these young girls to communicate
effectively with parents and vaccinate all children in a methodical way
without missing some areas," said Usman Kariko Binawa, a vaccine campaign
Just outside the northern city of Kaduna, in the predominantly Muslim village
of Maraban Jos, health workers scrawled check marks with chalk on the mud and
tin houses of families accepting vaccinations. They wrote large "R's" on the
those who refused, so they wouldn't be bothered again.
Binta Abdullahi, a 34-year-old campaign worker in Maraban Jos, came out of
the home of one Muslim family that had refused to have their children
"They want to wait for the results of the examinations," she said, referring
to the government investigation. In the nearby village of Barakal Allahu,
which is mostly Christian, residents welcomed the teams. "We are eager. We've
seen polio and we don't want it for our children," said Stephen Dogo, 74,
after his two youngest children were vaccinated. In the same village, one
polio victim a young wheelchair-bound man with twisted, skinny legs rode past
health workers, expressing his approval with the words "God is Great."
Earlier this month, the Nigerian government sent politicians, scientists and
religious leaders abroad to witness the polio vaccine been tested in foreign
labs. On Tuesday, the fact-finding team said in a statement it was awaiting
test results from labs in India and expected them as late as the end of the
month, after the vaccine campaign is over. The Associated Press obtained a
copy of the committee's interim report that ruled the vaccines safe. However,
it acknowledged the tests showed "trace amounts of estradiol," a form of the
female hormone estrogen the vaccine's Muslim detractors claim could cause
infertility. The unsigned four-page document suggested the hormone may have
come from calf blood serum it said was sometimes used to help produce the
WHO officials have repeatedly insisted minute amounts of hormones would be
completely harmless, amounting to less than what is found in human breast
milk. Nigerian Health Ministry officials could not immediately be reached for
comment on the leaked document. Muslims in Nigeria's north have been wary of
vaccine campaigns since 1996, when families in Kano state accused New
York-based Pfizer Inc. of using an experimental meningitis drug without fully
informing of the risks.
The company denied any wrongdoing. A U.S. court dismissed a lawsuit by 20
disabled Nigerians who allegedly took part in the study, but a U.S. appeals
court later revived it.
Italy: Tetanus shots may violate constitutional rights says Venice court
After a London High Court in July ordered two girls to receive a series of
vaccinations over the objections of their mothers, who believe that vaccines
are not proven safe, an Italian appeals court in Venice has made a different
decision. On 19 September, the juvenile section of the Venice court made it
clear that it would not force vaccination and suspended all pending cases
that regard refusal to submit to obligatory tetanus shots. But more
importantly, the court agreed with the defense lawyer Luca Ventaloro from
Rimini, representing the Dal Santo family, that imposing the vaccination may
be a violation of constitutional rights and has transmitted the case to the
Italian Constitutional Court for deciding the point, reports the Giornale di
Vicenza (translation of the article follows here):
Vaccinations - historical decision of Italian court in Venice
Article published in Il Giornale di Vicenza, 20 September 2003
Vaccines no longer a must
A family from the Thiene district has won their legal battle
by Marialuisa Duso
From this point onward, those who do not wish to vaccinate their children
should no longer be obliged to move to a foreign country, a course a couple
from Valdagno had threatened to take. A court order of the Venice appeals
court, which concerns some tens of couples of parents, has not only suspended
all court proceedings involving parents objecting to vaccination, but has
taken the step of putting the matter before the Constitutional Court, which
will have to decide about the legitimacy of the laws that mandate
An unexpected piece of news for the tens of families, many of them from this
area, who have chosen the dificult path of objecting. A victory on all fronts
for Rimini lawyer Luca Ventaloro, expert of minor and family laws and legal
council for the "Comilva" the association which assists these couples. A
great contribution also comes from "Corvelva", another association with
"This decision is of historical importance", says the lawyer, "and it opens a
very interesting scenario. The minors section of the Venice appeals court not
only has confirmed what for years has been common practice in the Emilia
Romagna region, it has taken a futher step ahead. For the first time, in
fact, not only has a medical opinion been asked about the minors, but also on
the components of the vaccine, and this morning (yesterday) after receiving
the medical opinions, the court has suspended all pending proceedings
regarding the tetanus shots and has raised the question of constitutionality
with regard to the law that imposes them."
What are the motivations?
"One is a medical motive: it is known that mercury-containing vaccines must
be removed from the market because they are dangerous - the parents are
asking themselves why their children should be subjected to them. The second
motive regards tetanus: it is not a virus but a spore and as such it is not
contageous. The decision reminds us that the anti-tetanus shot became
obligatory when children were playing in the streets and fields. Today,
living in apartments, it is unlikely that they would get in contact with the
tetanus spores. The thought that the risk of contracting tetanus is much
lower now has also occurred to Parliament which, even without taking a clear
stance in the matter, has prohibited the forced administration of the
What does this decision mean?
"First of all, suspension of all court cases pending. Not only: all of the
courts' juvenile sections will be waiting for decision of the Constitutional
Court. But the Venice Appeals Court has taken clear position that is
independent of whatever may be the decision of the Constitutional Court - it
does not want to persecute the parents who xobject."
And what happened in the past?
"The parents who did not want to vaccinate their children were subject to
administrative fines imposed by the Communes. Then they had to justify their
position in front of a juvenile court which, normally, decided to limit the
parents' rights to decide for their sons and daughters. At that point, many
of the families gave up. For years I have searched for a couple which would
go all the way. Now, thanks to the Dal Santo family and some others, we
arrived at this decision. I am asking myself now what public health service
will have the courage to order this vaccination, after the decision of the
The lawyer, Mr. Ventaloro, will be speaking at a conference being organized
in Thiene on 24 October: He will talk about "Vaccinations and more - legal
aspects and eipdemiology".
With More Required Injections, More Missed Vaccines
Parents and Providers Skip Vaccines Due to "Pin Cushion Effect"
NEW YORK (May 1, 2004) --(HealthNewsDigest.com)... Since 1996, the number of
immunization injections per doctor visit has more than doubled. According to
a new study by Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia
University Medical Center, as the number of injections has risen so have the
number of parents and providers that postpone opportunities to get necessary
vaccines -- a phenomenon they characterize as the -pin cushion effect.
The number of immunization injections increased from an average of 1.3 per
visit in 1996 to 3.2 per visit in 2000. During this period, as the number of
injections per visit increased, the number of missed opportunities rose from
28 percent to 34 percent, and the highest rate of missed opportunities was
associated with the maximum number of injections needed at that visit. The
findings will be presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting
in San Francisco.
"Both providers and parents have concerns about an excess of injections per
visit. As a result of these concerns, they postpone or skip vaccines leading
to intentional missed opportunities," says Dr. Matilde Irigoyen, director of
the division of general pediatrics and professor of clinical pediatrics and
clinical public health at Columbia University College of Physicians &
Surgeons and attending pediatrician at Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian.
Dr. Irigoyen continues: "As in other studies, providers appear to prioritize
vaccines based on the perceived risk to child. One positive is that there
appears to be a desensitization process, with providers and parents becoming
used to an increasing number injections per visit, and what was 'too much'
becomes accepted when new injections are introduced. Also, increased
availability of combination vaccines should reduce the number of intentional
missed opportunities. However, our analyses suggest that whatever the current
maximum injections is, that maximum will have a substantially higher
probability of missed opportunities."
Since 1998, when children needed a maximum of five injections at a visit, 90
percent of the five-injection visits had missed opportunities. 1996-97, when
the maximum number of injections was only four per visit, the missed
opportunity rate for four-injection visits was also over 90 percent. As soon
as the fifth injection was added in 1998, the missed opportunity rate for the
four-injection visit dropped to 44 percent, a rate that further declined to
only 27 percent in 2000. A similar pattern was found in 1996-1997 when the
fourth immunization was added and the missed opportunity rate for
three-injection visits dropped from 95 percent to only 45 percent.
The study was conducted in a pediatric practice network in the low-income
community of Northern Manhattan with 22,515 participating children.
Iowa is first in the Nation:
The Governor signed the mercury free vaccine bill yesterday, 5-14-04.
Thanks to all that stepped forward to be heard. With Divine Guidance all
things are possible. Great Work!
May our journey continue to blessed,
Larry Hanus, Iowa Health Freedom Coalition, 319-269-6343
Court Orders Pentagon to Stop Anthrax Vaccinations
By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 28, 2004; Page A01
The Defense Department must immediately stop inoculating troops with anthrax
vaccine, a federal judge ruled yesterday, saying that the Food and Drug
Administration acted improperly when it approved the experimental injections
for general use.
Concluding that the FDA violated its own rules by approving the vaccine late
last year, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said the mandatory
vaccination program -- which has inoculated more than 1.2 million troops
since 1998 -- is "illegal."
Sullivan said that his ban on involuntary vaccination will remain in place
until the FDA reviews the anthrax vaccine properly or until President Bush
determines that the normal process must be waived because of emergency
The Defense Department has required many troops serving in Iraq and
Afghanistan to be vaccinated, and it has punished and sometimes
court-martialed those who refused. The Pentagon expanded its anthrax and
smallpox vaccination programs in July to include troops stationed in South
Korea and other areas in Asia and Africa, despite complaints from some
service members that the anthrax vaccine made them sick.
In a statement, the Defense Department said it is reviewing the decision and
will "pause giving anthrax vaccinations until the legal situation is
clarified. . . . DoD remains convinced that the anthrax immunization program
complies with all the legal requirements and that the anthrax vaccine is
safe and effective."
In his ruling, Sullivan said that the FDA's approval was invalid because it
did not meet the required review standards and the agency failed to seek the
necessary public comment.
"Congress has prohibited the administration of investigational drugs to
service members without their consent," Sullivan said. "This Court will not
permit the government to circumvent this requirement." "The men and women of
our armed forces deserve the assurance that the vaccines our government
compels them to take into their bodies have been tested by the greatest
scrutiny of all -- public scrutiny. This is the process the FDA in its expert
judgment has outlined, and this is the course this court shall compel FDA to
follow," Sullivan wrote.
The judge ruled on a suit filed in March 2003 by six service members and
civilians who argued that the FDA never properly reviewed the vaccine's
ability to protect against inhalation anthrax. The suit contended that the
drug was never shown to be effective, and that some vaccinated troops
experienced extreme fatigue, joint pain and temporary memory loss after being
vaccinated. The vaccine, made by BioPort Corp. of Lansing, Mich., is given in
a series of shots.
Mark Zaid, an attorney for the six who has also defended more than a dozen
service members court-martialed for refusing the vaccination, said one of his
clients is a breast-feeding mother who does not think the vaccine is safe for
"We will now initiate an effort to ensure the government reverses all
punishments that were imposed for refusing an order to take the vaccine,"
Zaid said. He said he will also seek compensation for service members who
contend they were harmed. "As we've seen in Iraq, there wasn't any actual
threat from anthrax, so there was never any real need for the vaccine," Zaid
Sullivan initially ruled in late 2003 that the FDA had never approved the
vaccine and ordered that the inoculations be stopped. Eight days later, the
FDA approved the vaccine based on an application made 18 years earlier, and
the inoculation program was resumed. Yesterday's ruling concluded that the
agency did not follow its own rules in declaring the vaccine safe and
In particular, Sullivan criticized the FDA for not allowing the public to
comment on its decision -- a prerequisite for any approval. There was some
public comment when the approval was first sought in 1986, but the 2003
decision was based on research conducted later and never subjected to
The FDA argued that comments had been submitted as part of a 2001 citizens'
petition questioning proposals to begin the vaccinations, but Sullivan found
them insufficient. "It is clear to this Court that if the status of the
anthrax vaccine were open for public comment today, the agency would receive
a deluge of comments and analysis that might inform an open-minded agency,"
he wrote. Because the anthrax agent is so deadly, it has been difficult
to test a vaccine that might protect against it. The best data have come from
a study in the 1950s of workers at a factory that processed animal hides and
furs, which can transmit naturally occurring anthrax. That study found that
the vaccine now used by the military was effective in reducing the incidence
of anthrax spread by contact, but the research involved only a tiny sample of
people who might have inhaled the bacteria.
Anthrax vaccine was used in a limited way in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. A
more expansive effort began in 1998. Difficulties in manufacturing the
vaccine stopped the program in 2000 and 2001, but the vaccination effort was
resumed and greatly expanded in 2002.
Staff writer Bradley Graham and researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to
Our Anthrax information web site: http://www.dallasnw.quik.com/cyberella/
DESTROY QUARANTINED VACCINE:
PETITION TO OVERTURN/REPEAL FERES DOCTRINE
To visit Dr. Meryl Nass's web site, go to: http://www.anthraxvaccine.org
Also visit: Anthrax Vaccine Benefit vs Risk: http://www.avip2001.net AND
Anthrax Vaccine Network http://www.ngwrc.org/anthrax/default.asp
Military Vaccine Education Center link, http://www.milvacs.org
Sgt. Sandra Larson's story:
Tom Heemstra's new book -
Girl is the first known to survive rabies without
By Elisabeth Rosenthal International Herald Tribune
Thursday, November 25, 2004
An American teenager is the first human ever known to survive rabies without
vaccination, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed Wednesday, after
the girl received a desperate and novel type of therapy for the fatal
Last month, doctors at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin put the
critically ill teenager into a
drug-induced coma and gave her anti-viral drugs, although it is not clear
which if any of the four
medicines she received contributed to her recovery. Dr. Charles
Rupprecht of the Centers for Disease Control called the recovery a "historic
occasion." But even the doctors who took care of the girl said the result
would have to be duplicated elsewhere before their approach could be
considered a cure or a treatment.
"You have to see this therapy repeated successfully in another patient," said
Dr. Rodney Willoughby, the associate professor of pediatrics who had
prescribed the cocktail of medicines for the patient, Jeanna Giese, 15.
"Until then, it is a miracle." Jeanna was bitten by a bat in church on
Sept. 12. After the bite, the teenager did not visit a doctor and so was not
vaccinated, as is standard medical practice after such an exposure. She was
admitted to Children's Hospital on Oct. 18 with fluctuating consciousness,
slurred speech and other symptoms typical of full-blown rabies.
Rabies vaccine successfully eliminates the chance of getting the dreaded
disease if it is administered within days of the initial exposure. Once
symptoms develop, generally after a few weeks, the shots are much less
effective. They are useless in advanced cases, which is why doctors in
Jeanna's case chose the experimental treatment. "As society has
developed, people have forgotten the folklore about don't play with stray
animals or stay away from bats," Willoughby said. The bat drew blood, but the
bite had been quick and small, so the teenager assumed she had just been
Fellow churchgoers assumed that only healthy bats could fly, so they picked
it up after it struck a
window in flight and threw it out the door. In North America, bats are an
important reservoir of rabies, and anyone with even questionable indoor
contact with a bat would ordinarily receive the rabies vaccine, the doctor
said. While rabies kills tens of thousands of people in Asia, Africa and
Latin America, it is rare in developed countries. Several West European
nations have eliminated the disease with aggressive vaccination campaigns.
The French government went on high alert in September when a dog illegally
imported from Morocco was found to carry the disease. No humans were
infected, however. Only a handful of people have ever recovered once
they developed even the earliest symptoms of rabies, and all of them, before
Jeanna, had received the vaccine. Neurologists sometimes use medicine to
induce comas in patients who have suffered large brain injuries, whether from
infection, injury or stroke. But this approach had not been tried before in
rabies. Doctors in Milwaukee refused to disclose what medicines they used
until they publish their findings in a medical journal.
Willoughby explained that he had tried inducing the coma in part because
evidence has suggested that rabies does not permanently damage any brain
structure. Instead death comes because the rabies virus seems to cause
temporary dysfunction of brain centers that control critical functions like
breathing and swallowing. Even if Jeanna's treatment proves successful
in a second patient, it is not clear how widely it could be used in poorer
parts of the world, since it requires an intensive care unit, with all the
high technology associated with such a unit.
Still, the doctor said that he expected Jeanna to make a good recovery. She
is already responding perfectly to questions by pointing to a message board
or nodding her head. She stood on her own for the first time Wednesday,
though she was still weak.
refusals worry US doctors: study Mon Oct 3, 2005 9:04 PM BST
CHICAGO (Reuters) - More than a third of U.S. pediatricians surveyed said
they would tell families who refuse all vaccinations for their children to
look elsewhere for care, according to a study published on Monday.
Of 302 pediatricians questioned, 256 said they had
encountered a parent who refused to let a child receive at least one
vaccination in the previous 12 months, and 162 -- 39 percent of the group
-- who had a parent refuse all vaccinations.
The refusals were most commonly based on safety
concerns, worries about children getting multiple vaccines at once,
philosophical reasons and religious beliefs, said the report from
Chicago's Rush Medical College.
"In the case of parents refusing specific vaccines, 82
(28 percent of the doctors) said that they would ask the family to seek
care elsewhere; for refusal of all vaccines, 116 (39 percent) of
pediatricians said they would refer the family" to another doctor, said
The reason physicians cite most often for wanting to
drop such patients were lack of shared goals and lack of trust, added the
study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics &
The study said the rate of unvaccinated children in the
United States has risen significantly since 1995. While most parents
continue to believe that vaccination is important, a large number express
concern about safety, it said.
The World Health Organization said earlier this year
that vaccines prevent more than 2 million deaths per year globally, mainly
among children; but it said many Internet sites have appeared offering
"unbalanced, misleading and alarming vaccine safety information" that is
confusing both patients and health workers.
The NY Times
March 20, 2006
On the Brink
Rumor, Fear and Fatigue Hinder Final Push to End Polio
By CELIA W. DUGGER
and DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
BAREILLY, India - The cry went up the moment the polio vaccination team was
spotted - "Hide your children!"
Some families slammed doors on the two volunteers going house to house with
polio drops in this teeming city's decrepit maze of lanes, saying that they
feared the vaccine would sicken or sterilize their children, or simply that they
were fed up with the long drive to eradicate polio. "We have a lot of other
problems, and you don't care about those," shouted one woman from behind a
locked door. "All you have is drops. My children get other diseases, and we
don't get help." Nearly 18 years ago, in what they described as a "gift from the
20th century to the 21st," public health officials and volunteers around the
world committed themselves to eliminating polio from the planet by the year
Since then, some two billion children have been vaccinated, cutting incidence of
the disease more than 99 percent and saving some five million from paralysis or
death, the World Health Organization estimates. But six years past the deadline,
even optimists warn that total eradication is far from assured. The drive
against polio threatens to become a costly display of all that can conspire
against even the most ambitious efforts to eliminate a disease: cultural
suspicions, logistical nightmares, competition for resources from many other
afflictions, and simple exhaustion. So monumental is the challenge, in fact,
that only one disease has ever been eradicated - smallpox. As the polio campaign
has shown, even the miracle of discovering a vaccine is not enough.
Not least among the obstacles is that many poor countries that eliminated polio
have let their vaccination efforts slide, making the immunity covering much of
the world extremely fragile, polio experts warn. They compare it to a vast,
tinder-dry forest: if even one tree is still burning, a single cinder can drift
downwind and start a fire virtually anywhere.
Here in northern India the embers are still glowing. And northern Nigeria,
another densely populated, desperately poor region, is aflame. In a calamitous
setback in mid-2003, Nigeria's northern states halted the vaccination campaign
for a year after rumors swept the region that the vaccine contained the AIDS
virus or was part of a Western plot to sterilize Muslim girls. Within a couple
of years, 18 once polio-free countries have had outbreaks traceable to Nigeria.
Though most have since been tamed,
Indonesia and Nigeria itself remain major worries. In 2001, there were fewer
than 500 confirmed cases of polio paralysis in the world. Last year, the number
jumped to more than 1,900 - and each paralyzed child means another 200 "silent
carriers" spreading the disease.
This year in addition to India and Nigeria, cases have been reported in Somalia,
Niger, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Yet no eradication effort against
any disease has been as well financed or as comprehensive as the polio drive,
which has cost $4 billion so far. In the balance is not just whether polio will
be extinguished, many public health officials say, but whether a world that
could not quite conquer polio will have the stomach to try to wipe out other
diseases, like measles. The closer a disease is to eradication, they say, the
harder won the gains. Interest lags as the number of cases falls. Fatigue sets
in among volunteers, donors and average people. Yet even one unvaccinated child
can allow a new pocket of the disease to bloom.
Here and elsewhere, eradicating polio means finding ways to get polio drops into
the mouths of every child under 5 - over and over. Because it can take many
doses to effectively immunize a child in parts of the world where the disease
circulates intensely, eradication requires repeated sweeps. Campaigns are
planned to the smallest detail. Each lane is mapped. Supervisors shadow
vaccination teams. Follow-up specialists pursue resistant families. "Here, polio
eradication has been going on for 10 years, and that's too long," said David C.
Bassett, 63, an old smallpox hand sent to India by the World Health Organization
to help with polio. "The public's sick of it. The workers are sick of it. The
government's sick of it. We're close now. We need to mobilize resources. The
donors aren't going to keep putting up money for this forever."
Aminu Ahmed's legs are so withered he must lean on something just to sit up in
the cement courtyard of his home in Kano, in northern Nigeria. He "walks" by
swinging his hips in an arc on his six-inch hand crutches. But Mr. Ahmed, 45, is
a natural leader. He is the president of the Kano State Polio Victims
Association, which owns the welding shop where he builds hand-cranked tricycles
for other polio victims. He coached Kano's handicapped soccer team to three
national championships. And he owns a home. It may be at the end of a slum
alley, where drinking water is sold in cans and the sewers are shallow ditches,
but he earned enough to pay healthy men to build it.
His wife, Hadiza, whom he met at the polio association, has given him six
children. The youngest, Omar, 2, was born shortly before Kano's conservative
Muslim government stopped its polio vaccinations. Today, like his father before
him, he drags himself across the cement courtyard. The joints of his spindly
legs are covered with calluses.
He has polio, too.
"This is why we enlighten people to give their children the vaccine," Mr. Ahmed
said, explaining why he went on local radio programs to ask for an end to the
vaccination moratorium. "Because we don't want people to be cripples like us."
The collapse of Nigeria's drive has become a lesson in the ways eradication
campaigns can go terribly awry. "Nigeria is clearly far and away the greatest
risk to the eradication effort," said Dr. Stephen L. Cochi, a senior adviser in
the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's immunization program.
The quality of its campaigns is the worst in Africa,
he said. "They're just missing lots and lots of kids."
Nigeria's president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who is from the Christian,
Yoruba-speaking south, has apologized for his country's role in reigniting the
disease, but officials in the Muslim north are defensive. Asked last year
whether he had been right to stop the vaccinations, Kano's governor, Ibrahim
Shekarau, cut off an interview. "We're not saying it didn't spread, and we're
not saying people didn't suffer," he said. "But I had a moral responsibility to
our population to stop it until it was clear there was no harm."
His health minister, Dr. Sanda Mohammed, also refused to discuss the subject,
even sending word into his waiting room that he was out of the city, while aides
admitted he was behind a locked door. But in a brief conversation on his
cellphone, he insisted that the decision was right because Kano residents had
become so suspicious of government health workers that they were refusing all
vaccinations. "It would have been a bigger disaster if we had vaccinated people
at gunpoint," Dr. Mohammed said. As is often the case with rumors, they appeared
based on distortions of fact amplified by an alarmist media and by politicians
and clerics absorbed in a religiously divisive presidential election campaign.
A controversial 1999 book, "The River," helped raise doubts. Its thesis was that
the source of human AIDS was an experimental polio vaccine used in the Belgian
Congo in the 1950's that had been grown on a medium of chimpanzee cells
containing a monkey virus that is considered the precursor of AIDS. Most AIDS
experts reject the theory. The author of the book, Edward Hooper, has never
suggested that modern polio vaccines contain any AIDS virus, but confused
Nigerian journalists raised the possibility that they did. Then scientists from
a Nigerian university claimed they had found estrogen in the polio vaccine.
Estrogen is the main ingredient in birth control pills, and in Africa any talk
of birth control is highly controversial. Inflammatory speakers equate it with
genocide by whites or by ruling tribes trying to eliminate lesser ones.
Some vaccines are grown in calf serum, and experts say it is possible that tiny,
harmless amounts of estrogen were found, but at levels that are far lower than
in, say, breast milk.
With such rumors circulating during the hotly contested 2003 elections, in which
a Muslim candidate lost to Mr. Obasanjo, "The situation got hijacked," said Dr.
Barbara G. Reynolds, deputy chief of the Nigerian office of Unicef. "People who
had multiple agendas ran with it." Most vocal was a wealthy Kano doctor who was
both head of a campaign to impose Islamic law in northern Nigeria and a
candidate for a top job in the national health department. After being denied
the post, he turned against the polio drive, calling the vaccine "tainted by
evildoers from America." Governor Shekarau's spokesman publicly speculated that
the vaccine was "America's revenge for Sept. 11."
With residents turning vaccinators away and the threat of riots growing, Mr.
Shekarau - a well-educated rival to southern politicians - decided to halt
vaccinations until local doctors could test the vaccine. That took 10 months.
Hearings were held, and teams visited vaccine factories in Indonesia, India and
South Africa. Medical and religious experts from Saudi Arabia flew in to meet
local clerics. Finally, the case was made that the vaccine was safe.
In October 2004, at a kickoff of a new round of vaccinations of 80 million
children, Mr. Shekarau allowed Mr. Obasanjo personally to give his 1-year-old
daughter, Zainab, the drops - a picture that became famous in Nigeria. The emir
of Kano, who rarely lets himself be seen in public, allowed himself to be
photographed vaccinating children. But by then, the virus was on the loose.
New Drive, Old Obstacles
Now that official opposition to Nigeria's eradication drive has melted, it is
facing its old obstacles, like those in India: Scotch-tape logistics and pockets
At 7 a.m. on the first day of a vaccination drive last year, the dirt courtyard
of the public clinic in Kano looked like the deck of the world's most bedraggled
aircraft carrier. Smashed-up minibus taxis, many with their front ends crumpled
and doors held closed by rope, were waiting to take off. Like F-18's, each had a
name painted on: Titanic, Dollars, Thank You Daddy. By 8 a.m., after some near
misses with the wobbly benches in the courtyard, most of the minibuses had left,
bearing vaccinators on their rounds. But problems were quick to arise. The chief
of a nearby district was unhappy that each of his teams got $23 to hire
transportation for the day. Last time, he said, the money had gone directly to
him, and he had made the arrangements. That was changed, a World Health
Organization official said privately, because half the money was pocketed.
The vaccine must be kept chilled from the time it leaves the factory until it
reaches a child's mouth, and the clinic's freezers looked as battered as the
taxis. The day was already hot, and World Health Organization officials worried
that the ice packs keeping the vaccines cold were not fully frozen. A big
problem, one confided, was clinic officials "who take the money we give them to
buy big freezers, and then buy refrigerators to keep their cold drinks in."
Finding enough women for the teams proved particularly tough. Only women can
enter a Nigerian Muslim household if the husband is away, and women with
children are better at persuading other mothers to vaccinate. But many men
refused to let their wives leave home, and either wanted the jobs, which pay
about $3 a day, for themselves, or sent their young daughters.
As a result, teenage girls could be seen leaving with empty boxes, not
understanding that they were supposed to carry ice packs and 40 doses of
vaccine. Others carried tally sheets that they could not fill out because they
could not read. "We wanted to remove males completely from the teams, but we
realized it would create too much antagonism," said Dr. Ahmed Bello Sulaiman, a
World Health Organization coordinator in rural Kano. "For the program to work,
we need each local government involved. But many local politicians want to give
the jobs to people who helped them get elected - and those are mostly men."
Some families tricked the teams, erasing the chalk marks on their doorways
showing that they had not cooperated, or blackening their children's thumbs with
the same ink that the vaccinators had used and falsely claiming that they had
been immunized. Still, the government seemed determined to succeed. At the
campaign's command center in the capital, Abuja, the officer in charge of the
"cold chain" - keeping it chilled from the time it arrives in Nigeria - knew
exactly which district leader in a remote part of Kano was considered a "joker"
by his peers and arranged for his removal and the shipping of two new freezers.
Sometimes the new determination was a bit excessive. The chief prosecutor of
Katsina, another northern Nigerian state, announced he would jail for a year any
parents who refused drops for their children.
India's Uphill Campaign
While Nigeria struggles to restart its campaign, India, whose need is such that
it uses more than half the world's two billion polio vaccine doses each year,
has long made an extraordinary commitment to wipe out polio. Teams like the one
that faced scorn in squalid warrens of Bareilly have made repeated sweeps in the
state of Uttar Pradesh, home to 180 million people, which Dr. Cochi of the
Centers for Disease Control describes as "historically the center of the
universe for the polio virus." Nowhere are the prospects for conquering polio
more intimidating. Living conditions are so dense, public health services so
awful, summer heat so sweltering, and open sewers and monsoon floods so common
that a more perfect breeding ground could hardly be conjured.
The state, populous enough to make it the world's sixth-largest nation, has
endured more than two dozen campaigns in recent years. In 2004, teams went door
to door eight times. They came eight more times last year. Each round requires
almost every health worker to join in for at least a week or two, local managers
say, and each time vaccinators must try to get the polio drops into the mouths
of 50 million children. International leaders of the global drive were hopeful
last year that the country would finish off the disease - but it still
registered 66 cases. That was the lowest tally ever, but not zero. And so this
year, India must repeat its consuming effort yet again, with special focus on
Uttar Pradesh and other regions still trying to extinguish the last cases.
Resistance has persisted where services are weakest and distrust of public
"Please open up," pleaded one polio volunteer, Firoza Rafiq, outside the locked
door in Bareilly during a drive last year. "We won't force you." The woman
inside first shouted through a crack that she had no children, though a little
girl had just scampered in. Challenged, she changed her story and complained
that she was sick and tired of the polio drive. Mrs. Rafiq, a Muslim, and her
team partner, Parvati Devi Rajput, a Hindu, chalked an X on the door, marking it
for someone to come back later and try again. Polio spreads through oral-fecal
contact: children can get it by drinking well water tainted by sewage, or simply
by picking up a ball that rolled through a gutter choking with human waste. In
warm or tropical climates, many similar viruses can attach to the same receptors
in the intestine as the polio virus does, making it even harder to immunize a
child. It can take up to 10 vaccine doses, spaced months apart.
With great anticipation, India and other countries began trying a new
eradication strategy last year, using a "monovalent" vaccine that focuses only
on the most common strain of polio, but gives immunity in fewer doses. The old
vaccine attacked three strains of the virus, two of them less common. "The great
hope was that monovalent vaccine would be the magic bullet and melt all polio
cases away, but that hasn't happened," Dr. Cochi said. While the new vaccine has
brought India closer than ever to eradication, resistance to the vaccine has
persisted in some areas. Here in Bareilly, the two-woman team was bolstered by a
new, more senior volunteer, Mohammad Ejaz Anjum, the vice principal of an
Islamic school. Mr. Anjum, his eyes obscured by sunglasses, was not from the
neighborhood, but was a Muslim and spoke with authority.
"We've come from God," he announced as he stepped into the small, cluttered home
of Navir Ahmed, a bottle scavenger. "You should give the children drops. The
government only wants good for you."
Mr. Ahmed snapped back, "If you give drops for one disease, you create others."
"Polio is the kind of disease with no treatment," the vice principal replied.
The two continued talking past each other until Mr. Ahmed ordered Mr. Anjum out:
"You people keep coming. I don't like it. Go!"
As the team walked on, a growing band of children with dusty hair and ragged
clothes trailed behind them, the patter of bare feet echoing in the narrow
lanes. At the back of the pack was Sajana, 9, a forlorn shadow of a girl with a
bedraggled ponytail, her withered leg and jerky limp a reminder of the virus
that lurked in the muck.
Big Money, but Also Skepticism
The world has donated billions of dollars for polio eradication. Japan and Great
Britain have given more than $250 million, and Canada, the Netherlands, the
European Commission and the World Bank each have given more than $100 million.
Far and away the biggest donors have been the United States and Rotary
International, which initiated the "gift to the 21st century" idea. Each has
given more than $500 million.
But as the polio campaign has dragged on, the voices of skeptics have grown
louder. Dr. Donald A. Henderson, renowned for leading the successful war on
smallpox, and currently a professor of medicine and public health at the
University of Pittsburgh, said he believed the polio campaign was all but
doomed. He suspects that the official caseload figures on
www.polioeradication.org are incomplete and that the World Health Organization
may not actually know every pocket of virus in the world.
But even if it does, and even if all the world's polio cases can be wiped out,
he argued, problems that are now being nearly ignored in the all-out effort to
corral the last few cases will suddenly loom large. For example, as a
precaution, vaccination must be continued for many years after the last case is
found, polio experts agree. (Nearly every American child is still immunized -
albeit with a killed vaccine given by injection - even though polio was
virtually wiped out in the United States in the 1960's.)
But in about one in three million doses, the live oral vaccine used in poor
countries can mutate back into a wild-type virus that can infect and paralyze
victims. They are used, however, because they give better immunity than the
killed vaccine and are easier to administer. A tiny number of healthy people
with a rare immune-system defect can keep excreting polio virus for decades -
creating a reservoir that could, theoretically, cause a new outbreak many years
in the future. (That is what happened in an unusual case last year in an Amish
community in Minnesota where some had refused vaccinations.)
Dr. David L. Heymann, of the World Health Organization, acknowledged the
concerns, but said the problems were not insurmountable. For example, the use of
oral vaccine could be discontinued after eradication to avoid its mutation into
a wild form, he said. Through the years - as experts have sparred over strategy
- thousands of Rotary volunteers have never lost faith in the prize of
they have spread their fervor into the American heartland. Dave Groner, a
funeral home director from Dowagiac, Mich., and his wife, Barbara, a retired
schoolteacher, have led seven teams of volunteers to India and Nigeria to help
out in vaccination campaigns. On a recent trip to India, a hog farmer, a
psychologist, married real estate brokers and a retired obstetrician were among
those who went along.
Ann Lee Hussey, an animal medical technician from Maine who had polio as a
child, got down on the floor with one little girl, and compared their deformed
feet. "The girl ran her hand on Ann's foot and scars and all the other kids
scooted up," Mr. Groner recalled. "No one snapped photos. Everyone swallowed
their Adam's apple."
Thousands of such volunteers have offered testimonials at club meetings back
home and constitute an extraordinary grass-roots network of fund-raisers. When
$93,000 was needed for balloons, whistles and other materials for an
immunization campaign in the north Indian state of Bihar, Mr. Groner sent an
urgent e-mail plea. In 72 hours, he had pledges for $115,000.
'A Load on My Heart'
Success is tantalizingly close in India, but still too late for those like
Amitkumar whose daily torments are a testament to polio's cruelty. A brainy,
square-jawed 15-year-old, he has been paralyzed from the waist down since he was
a year-old baby whose plump, sturdy legs steadily wasted away.
At 11:30 one morning at the Amar Jyoti School in New Delhi, the bell rang for
recess and rambunctious children - both able-bodied and disabled - went out to
play. Amit, on crutches, swung his shrunken legs at high speed, using his broad
chest and shoulders to propel himself. He balanced on legs of skin and bones,
held stiff and straight by heavy braces.
He has since childhood suffered the taunts of "cripple," and toughened himself
to play cricket with neighborhood children. He positioned himself smack in the
middle of the field this day. As a ball flew by, he lifted his powerful hand,
big as a catcher's mitt, to pluck it from the air.
That afternoon, his father, Jaganath, a genial railway worker with a big belly,
picked him up at the bus stop on a rusty old bicycle. The son rode sidesaddle,
his legs dangling over the back wheel. Mr. Jaganath confided that he was never
at peace because of his eldest son's suffering. Some years back, he and his wife
stood outside the hospital door while attendants straightened their boy's
twisted legs using brute force. They listened to his screams of agony. "I feel a
load on my heart," Mr. Jaganath said. Amit's mother, Arti Devi, confessed, "It's
a torture for me every day to watch him."
Once home from school, Amit shed his painfully tight braces, lifting his legs,
lifeless as sausages, and stuffed them into a pair of pants. His four younger
brothers and sisters treat him with awe and a measure of fear. He is a stern big
brother who insists that his siblings study hard, as he does. He
is one of the best students in the slum. "I want to become a doctor," he said
fiercely. "I want to eradicate polio so that no other child faces the problems
that I do."
Celia W. Dugger reported from India for this article, and Donald G. McNeil Jr.
Good news: infant mortality down; shocker: immunisation too
NEW DELHI, MAY 10: Two recent health surveys carried out by the Government have
thrown up mixed results. While one reports that the Infant Mortality Rate has
fallen below 60 for the first time in the country, the worrying sign is that the
already low immunisation rates are showing further decline.
The most alarming is the case of Uttar Pradesh, which shows a fall in
immunisation from 43.7 per cent in 1998-99 to 28.1 per cent in the latest data.
In 1998-1999, 54 per cent of the children in the country were reported to be
fully immunised. But a district household survey 2002-2004, the data for which
was released last month, shows a decline in this to 47.6 per cent. In 1989-99,
India had one-third of the world?s non-immunised children.
Immunisation rates seem to have fallen across the country, including Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar, which account for 40 per cent of the total children in the
age group of zero to one who need immunisation. But unlike Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
has shown only a marginal decline, from 24.4 to 22.4 per cent.
Experts believe that the focus on polio eradication, at the cost of routine
immunisation, could have contributed to the decline.
The other states showing low figures are Rajasthan (25.4 per cent), Tripura
(26.7 per cent), Jharkhand (29.3 per cent) and Madhya Pradesh (32.5 per cent).
The states at the other end of the spectrum are Tamil Nadu (with an immunisation
rate of 92.1 per cent), Kerala (81.2 per cent), Pondicherry (89.4 per cent), Goa
(81.5 per cent) and Himachal Pradesh (79.4 per cent).
There is good news, however, on the infant mortality front. For the first time,
India has reported IMR below 60, with the survey from Registrar General of India
released recently showing 58 deaths per 1,000 live births in the country.
Though the rates are still high compared to other countries, the figures have
shown decline from 68/1,000 live births in 2000, and 60/1,000 live births in
Here too, it?s the southern states which generally perform better, with Kerala
at the top with 12 deaths/1,000 live births.