TESTIMONY TO THE ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE October 13, 2009 By: Sabeeha Rehman, FACHE President, National Autism Association – New

York Metro Chapter

My name is Sabeeha Rehman. I am a grandmother of an 8 year old boy with autism. Omar was 3, and I was overseas, when my daughter-in-law sent me an email telling me that Omar had been diagnosed with autism. In that instant, our lives changed. We were working overseas. I am a healthcare executive, a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives; my husband is a physician. We dropped everything, and made our way back to the States. I gave up my career of 25 years as a hospital administrator and decided to devote my life to my grandchild and to the world of autism. I co-founded the New York Metro chapter of the National Autism Association and I now devote my time between running the chapter as its President, and being there for my son and my lovely daughter-in-law, and Omar.

Omar had been doing fine. He was typical – growing beautifully, playing, laughing, hugging, being naughty – like any child. And then, something happened when he turned 3. Something snapped – like the turning off of a switch. He stopped making eye contact, he stopped playing, he stopped talking, and he retreated into a world of isolation. We couldn’t reach him, we couldn’t touch him, we couldn’t even make him look at us. What happened? Something had to have triggered this. What was it?

We back-peddled. And we started unraveling the puzzle. I have since then talked to countless mothers who had an identical experience as Omar’s, I have listened to their stories, and all roads have led to one trigger.

You know where I am headed.

In my capacity as President of the National Autism Association’s New York Metro chapter, I come before you, to bring to you the voices of the families who have a child like Omar in their family, the voices of teachers, who are educating children like Omar, and the voices of the therapists, who are trying to heal children, like Omar.

The New York Metro chapter is not opposed to vaccines. We are advocates of safe vaccines - vaccines that are toxin-free, vaccines that are administered with appropriate intervals; we are opposed to the one-size-fits-all vaccine for children; and we advocate the right of choice – the right for parents to opt out on the basis of philosophical and religious grounds.

I am here today to appeal to you on the grounds of safety – safe vaccines.

Our first safety concern is the toxins in vaccines. It is an established fact that mercury is a powerful toxin. Yet, it has been used in vaccines and our children have been injected with this toxin, over and over again.

Whereas it has now been removed from most vaccines, it is still being used in the flu vaccine. And yes, it is indeed being used in the H1N1 vaccine. Here are the facts:

Sanofi-Pasteur vaccine – multi-dose vial: 25 micrograms of mercury per dose; negligible in single dose prefilled syringe. It has 0.18 milligram of MSG per dose. CSL vaccine – multi dose vial: 24.5 micrograms of mercury per dose; negligible in single dose prefilled syringe. MedImmune – Nasal Spray single dose, none. Novartis vaccine – multi dose vial: 25 micrograms of mercury per dose.And even the single dose Prefilled syringe has mercury – upto 1 microgram per dose. The H1N1 vaccine from Novartis being sold in Europe also contains Formaldehyde as preservative and Squalene as an adjuvant. Source: CDC MMWR: October 9, 2009. 58(39)1100-1101 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5839a3.htm#tab

The presence of mercury in the multi-dose vials renders these vaccines unsafe for human consumption. So, why don’t families opt for the single dose vial? Because, first, they are not aware that they have this choice. Second, single dose vaccines are not available in large supplies, because they cost more. Do they know to ask for single-dose? And if they do, what happens when they are told by their doctor that he or she only has multidose – and the child better get it or risk getting the flu. Parents are going to do what the doctor tells them to do.

I urge you, to insist, that only single-dose vials be made available in the state of New York. Let those families who opt for the H1N1 vaccine, be given single-dose, mercuryfree vaccines – safe vaccines, and then too, exclude vaccines of those manufacturers that have mercury in the single-dose vials. Keep the vaccines safe.

The second safety concern is the composition of the nasal spray vaccine, or flu mist. The nasal spray contains an attenuated live virus, a virus that has been weakened – unlike the injectable vaccine which contains a dead virus. There is anecdotal evidence that the nasal spray, with the live virus, has had devastating effects in some children. Its contraindications, as per the vaccine’s package insert include eggs, gelatine, and arginine (amino acid) among others. In other words, if you have hypersensitivity to these, you are likely to have a bad reaction. Children under 5 years of age, and wheezing can also have a bad reaction. Some children have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks after using the spray. But picture this: A child is given the spray; it appears as if he did not sniff it well; he is given another spray and asked to sniff again, and now you have given him double the dose. Picture this: A child is given the spray. He rubs his leaky nose with his hands; his hands are infected with the live virus; next he is touching his friends with his infected hands, and spreading the virus.

The third safety concern is reliability and validity of safety testing. Normally, it takes years to conduct safety testing of drugs. The clinical trials on adults for the H1N1 vaccine started in August 2009; for children on 19 August; for pregnant women, they started in September; and trials of vaccines with adjuvants started in mid-September. To

date, 4,500 individuals, including children have been tested. Are we ready to roll this out? We are making these vaccines mandatory for pregnant women, when their safety testing started only last month. Is it unreasonable to question the adequacy of safety testing? Can you allay my anxiety about this!

Which leads me to the fourth safety concern, which is, vaccinating pregnant women? As per package insert of all three injectable vaccines (Sanofi, Novartis or CSL) have NOT been tested for their impact on the fetus. They all warn of the risk to the Un-born. We normally, restrict dispensing drugs to pregnant women, due to risks to the fetus. Should we be giving the multi-dose vial vaccine with 25 micrograms of mercury, a neurotoxin, when the tiny brain of the fetus is developing inside her? The drug companies have stated that they have not tested the effects of the H1N1 vaccines on the fetus. And yet, we are urging pregnant women to get vaccinated. If we don’t know what the effect this vaccine has on the fetus, should we be vaccinating pregnant women?

And if a pregnant woman, or anyone for that matter, a parent, or a healthcare worker, has concerns about vaccine safety, should they be forced to get the vaccine? As a healthcare executive and hospital administrator, I lived and breathed ‘informed consent’. Under the guidelines of informed consent, the healthcare provider must explain to the patient, the risks, the benefits, and the alternatives, and then let the patient or guardian decide. That is what constitutes informed consent – informing and educating the patient about not just the benefits, but the risks, and the alternatives. Are we doing that? Do we plan to do that? Inform the patient!

And what happens if there are adverse events? A patient gets the vaccine and has a adverse consequence. Should we be aware of the scope of these adverse events? Of course we should. I therefore recommend that a Statewide Registry of Adverse Events be established to track these occurrences. A hotline should be established for patients to report adverse occurrences, and this should be linked to the registry. This will enable you to track and monitor – at least the self-reported events. I urge you to do that.

My daughter-in-law just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl – Sofia. I am relieved that she did not have to be inoculated during pregnancy, I am grateful that she opted out of the Hep B vaccine at birth; I am going to watch that baby like a hawk – but I cannot do it alone – I and the families I represent, need you by our side. Make our vaccines safe – please.

Submitted by: Sabeeha Rehman, FACHE President National Autism Association New York Metro Chapter 630 First Avenue, Apt 8R New York, N.Y. 10016 Email: sabeeha.naa.ny@gmail.com Phone: 917 639 3397

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