For the next three weeks, it is likely that the autism newswires will be rife with reports of children who, their parents allege, became autistic as a result of a vaccine—and by what strange coincidence did West Coast wrapper Turf Talk release a new CD under of the name of “West Coast Vaccine (The Cure)”? Must be a coincidence — though a few things about how the describes some of his rapping (“his syllables arrive as a torrent of pinched vowels and bursting consonants”) calls to mind my son Charlie’s own interesting articulations. (I am not, I must mention, partial to rap music.)
More to the point: Today saw the beginning of the “vaccine court” —- in which 4800 families of autistic children are plaintiffs claiming that their child’s autism was caused by a vaccine —-in Washington D.C., with 12-year-old Michelle Cedillo of Yuma, Arizona, wheeled into court by her parents, Theresa and Michael Cedillo. As reported by today’s Associated Press, Cedillo has “a litany of health problems, including severe autism, inflammatory bowel disease, glaucoma and epilepsy.” The Associated Press explains how the plaintiffs might argue for their cases, and lay out the basics of the dispute about the evidence and the science of an alleged vaccine-autism link:
The burden of proof is easier than in a traditional court. Plaintiffs only have to prove that a link between autism and the shots is more likely than not, based on a preponderance of evidence.
Large scientific studies have found no association between autism and vaccines containing thimerosal.
But many parents say their children’s symptoms did not show up until after their children received the vaccines, required by many states for admission to school.
”These are families who followed the rules. These are families who brought children in for vaccines. These are families who immunized their children,” said the Cedillos’ attorney, Thomas Powers.
Powers said that the science regarding a possible vaccine-autism link is in dispute.
Government attorney Vincent Matanoski dismissed much of what the plaintiffs are expected to present as conjecture or speculation.
”You’ll find their hypotheses untested or, when tested, have been found false,” Matanoski said.
It will be an interesting upcoming three weeks, to understate the matter.
The New York Times reports on the opening statements in the trial, by Thomas Powers and Sylvia Chin-Caplan who are representing the Cedillos, and Vincent J. Matanoski, an assistant director in the civil division of the Department of Justice.