Thursday, April 24, 2008

Calling the CDC

The other day I placed a call to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) by using the number given on their Web site (800-311-3435). I wanted to talk to somebody about the fact that Prevnar and other vaccines have never been tested for carcinogenic effects, mutagenic effects or fertility impairment (as the manufacturer's insert states).

I was hoping they could tell me why this is acceptable to the CDC, that the vaccines they recommend we administer to our children are not tested for such things. I am genuinely curious and am not trying to be incendiary. Though, it does seem to me that these things ought to be tested...maybe I'm missing something, but I want to know this before it's shot into my child.

The woman I reached obviously worked in some sort of call center and was not going to be able to answer detailed questions that required more than a script to reply. She repeated part of my question back to me to verify what I was asking, but didn't really get the whole thing. I repeated the question (Why is it OK with the CDC that certain vaccines are not tested for carcinogenic effects or fertility impairment?) and was put on hold.

She tried no less than three times to refer me to the vaccine manufacturer, but I told her I really wanted the CDC to tell me why. I asked if there was someone else I could talk to, but, according to her, it was not OK to give me any names of any CDC employees nor to give me a different phone number. Apparently, I had reached a general information line (CDC-INFO), and unless I had someone's specific name, I would continue to reach this line whenever I called. How convenient for the CDC.

After I persisted, she put me on hold again and came back to read me a paragraph about the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This was mostly useless, but one thing that stood out to me was that she actually stated that vaccine manufacturers/CDC can't know everything about a vaccine's safety until it goes to market. Great. So we really are one big science experiment! (I'm only kidding.... partly. Let's remember the long history of medical mistakes such as treating acne with X-rays and pregnant women with thalidomide. So please forgive me if I'm skeptical.)

At the end of the call I had no answer to my question, but did get a phone number for the manufacturer of Prevnar (Wyeth -- 800-572-8221) and a phone number for VAERS (800-822-7967). And a very strange sensation that I had just been subdued by the giant wall of government bureaucracy.

After a little more digging, I found a REAL phone number for the Immunization Safety Office within CDC (404-639-8256). I left a voicemail two days ago and am not sure if I will ever hear back. I'll let you know.

I also called the National Vaccine Information Center this morning to ask them some questions about pending legislation by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Florida) and what we as simple parents can do to tell our government officials we want safer government policies. I am awaiting a call back, but will post that info when I get it.

1 comment:

Alicia said...

I would be interested in what you find out. I'm not surprised that you hit a wall with the CDC.

I just posted about mercury (finally finished one of those drafts! haha.