Yet another study confirms childhood vaccines are safe – National Consumers League

In not so surprising news, researchers again prove that childhood vaccinations are safe for routine immunizations. At a time when vaccination rates are declining and when once eradicated diseases like measles are resurging (500 cases since January), this report couldn’t have come at a better time. 

This news confirms the importance and safety of vaccines, especially as many parents are declining routine vaccinations for fear of harm. The bottom line: childhood vaccinations don’t cause autism, and they do protect patient and public health.

The results of a comprehensive, systematic review of vaccine safety were released last week in the journal of Pediatrics. This study was done as a follow up to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, investigating the scientific evidence for potential adverse effects of childhood vaccines. Researchers scoured published data for articles evaluating both vaccine safety, capturing adverse event reports, and describing patient characteristics for immunizations recommended for routine use in children 6 and under.  From an initial batch of over 20,000 research papers, 67 were chosen to be analyzed. Based on the evidence presented in the papers, vaccine safety was classified as being high, moderate, low confidence or insufficient evidence.

This new research can be added to a long list of already published medical information that support vaccinations effectiveness to prevent terrible, life threatening diseases and illnesses.

Americans are lucky to live in a country that provides access to these safe and effective vaccinations at a relatively low cost. In other countries, it isn’t as easy. The measles vaccine for instance costs less than $1, yet measles is still a leading cause of child death worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that there are 330 child deaths every day due to measles. In America, where the vaccine is completely affordable and there are few barriers towards getting vaccinated, we see parents refuse vaccinations, citing reasons of harm often based on little or no accurate science.

It has been more than half a century since vaccinations for polio, measles, and other diseases were rolled out on a public scale. And illnesses like mumps or measles, once commonplace, are so rare that many US doctors don’t even know how to treat it nor would they know how to identify the characteristic rash and implement safety protocols to prevent spread. Yet today, that is exactly what is happening. 

It’s time for science and rigorous and accurate research studies to be the basis of our health care decision-making, not baseless opinions of non-scientists. Both the FDA and CDC regularly monitor vaccines for safety, even after they have been approved, and have mechanisms to alert the public if issues are found. Let’s all do our part to protect our community’s health by staying current with the recommended vaccinations to prevent the spread of disease.

Here’s a quick recap of what this study found for the childhood vaccinations.

  • DTaP: No evidence for any causal link between side effects or causing diabetes. DTap is for diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid and pertussis. Think, DTaP prevents tetanus and whopping cough.
  • Hib Vaccine: No association with severe side effects. One study found an association with redness and swelling at the injection site. Hib is a serious disease that can affect the lungs, brain, ears.
  • Hepatitis A: Moderate association with excessive bruising (purpura) for children 7 to 17 years of age, which clears up shortly after injection.
  • Hepatitis B: No evidence for causal relationship with neurologic disorders including autism or multiple sclerosis.
  • IPV (Inactivated Polio Virus): Insufficient evidence to claim that this vaccine leads to food allergy sensitivities in newborns.  
  • Influenza vaccines: Low evidence that the vaccine causes flu-like illness in children when vaccinated. The study did find moderate evidence that vaccination leads to mild gastrointestinal events (e.g. vomiting or diahrrea). There is moderate evidence that links flu vaccine to febrile seizures especially when administered at the same time as the pneumococcal vaccine.
  • MMR: The evidence did not support a causal relationship with the vaccine and autism.  There is a moderate association with increased emergency department visits 2-weeks after administration, likely linked to the increase chance of febrile seizures. MMR is the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella.
  • Meningococcal: The evidence is moderate that the vaccine may cause anaphylaxis in children with allergies to ingredients.
  • PCV13: This vaccine is against pneumonia and has a moderate association of febrile seizures especially when given at the same time as the flu vaccine.
  • Rotavirus Vaccines: Rotavirus causes severe diarrhea in children. The vaccine is moderately associated with intussusception (problem with the intestine that can be fixed with minor surgery), but this is quite rare!
  • Varicella: There is evidence that the vaccine can lead to some illnesses especially in immune-compromised individuals.


A conservative war on women is a reality – National Consumers League

Conservatives bristle at the idea that they are waging a “war on women,” but if you take the sum total of their actions, it’s hard NOT to see it that way. Let’s take the issue of a woman’s right to contraception. Preventing unwanted pregnancies is largely a woman’s responsibility, even today, and the best protection is taking an oral contraception or using a contraceptive patch. When women cannot access contraception it often leads to unwanted pregnancy, which leads to a higher demand for abortion. 

Last week, in a rightwing-orchestrated case known as “Hobby Lobby,” the Supreme Court decided that companies cannot be required to provide their employees with access to birth control. The result for women who are employed by Hobby Lobby, or other companies who argue that providing contraception violates their religious beliefs, is that they have to pay for treatment out of pocket, or forego contraceptive protection and risk unwanted pregnancies. 

However, conservatives for decades – ever since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973 protecting the right to abortion – have conducted a campaign against women’s access to the procedure. In some states like Virginia, which until the recent election of a democratic governor and attorney general was on the road to driving all abortion providers out of the state by imposing new onerous requirements on abortion providers, is just one example of a state that has tried to pass extreme measures in recent years to make a woman’s access to abortions more difficult.   

So what happens when women cannot get contraception or an abortion for unwanted pregnancies? They might well be forced to give birth to a child they don’t want and are ill equipped to feed and care for. Low income women are hit the hardest – they may have to quit their job to take care of that child, and if they apply for welfare or food stamp benefits – well, conservatives in Congress have been declaring war on those programs too. A dramatic reduction in food stamp funding passed in the farm bill last year. As a result, many people have been dropped off the rolls, with single mothers and low-income women disproportionately hit by these draconian policies. 

So the vicious cycle of denying women access to contraception, abortion, and then welfare or food stamp benefits to help with them care for an unwanted pregnancy, amounts in my book, to a war on women. It’s an outrage that women bear the brunt of these indefensible policies, but they do. So conservatives should face up to the reality of their mean spirited policies – if the shoe fits wear it – you’re waging nothing less than a war on women.



FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny speaks at NCL event on data breach, ID theft – National Consumers League

July 8, 2014

Contact: National Consumers League, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323,
Carol McKay, (412) 945-3242,
Javelin Strategy & Research, Danielle Ostrovsky 410-302-9459,

FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny Speaks at National Consumers League Event on Data Breach, Identity Theft

Commissioner McSweeny Joined by Joanne McNabb, Director of Privacy Education & Policy For the California Office of the Attorney General, to Discuss New NCL Research on Data Breach, Identity Theft and Impact on Californians

Los Angeles, CA – Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Terrell McSweeny spoke today at a National Consumers League briefing on data breach and identity theft, where she discussed new research findings about the consumer impact of data breach and fraud.

Commissioner McSweeny was joined in Los Angeles by Joanne McNabb, Director of Privacy Education & Policy for the California Office of the Attorney General, for the second event of the National Consumers League’s #DataInsecurity Project, a cross-country series to raise awareness and push for action on consumer data security.

After a morning press event with several data security experts, the two officials joined NCL Vice President John Breyault to discuss a new study, released by NCL and Javelin Strategy & Research, which revealed disturbing trends for Los Angeles residents who have been affected by data breach and identity fraud. Nearly half of identity fraud victims are unaware where their information was compromised, while 61 percent of those who were also data breach victims reported that the breached information was used to commit fraud. The majority of data breaches affecting fraud victims involved a compromised retailer; fraud victims also reported that their information was used to make unauthorized purchases, either online (31 percent) or in person (39 percent). As a result, Los Angeles identity fraud victims are losing trust in retailers’ ability to keep their personal information secure and prevent it from being used to commit fraud.

“This report shows that fraud victims are calling for a decisive and coordinated response from both governments and the business community,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. “We thank Commissioner McSweeny and Director McNabb for joining us for this important discussion, and for their continued advocacy on behalf of consumers.”

#DataInsecurity Project Findings on Los Angeles Metropolitan Area Victims

The National Consumers League has released new research examining the impact of data breaches and identity fraud on consumer victims in four key regions nationwide, including the Los Angeles metropolitan area. According to the study, Americans are urgently calling out for government action on the growing threat posed by data breach and identity theft.

The study, conducted in partnership with Javelin Strategy & Research, shows that the impact of data breaches on consumers is indeed severe: 61 percent of data breach victims who also experienced identity theft reported that the breached information was used to commit the fraud against them. What’s more, nearly half of fraud victims — 49 percent — do not know where the information used to defraud them was compromised.

“Data insecurity is leading to real consumer harm, and this report confirms consumers are at a loss for where to turn in the face of this national problem,” said NCL’s Breyault. “As consumers share vast amounts of personal data with businesses, government and other entities, they expect their information to be protected from malicious hackers.”

The NCL/Javelin study, which includes surveys of fraud victims from Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and Minneapolis, along with additional Javelin research on national fraud trends, found that consumers are calling for government to take action. A mere 28 percent of victims surveyed said the government’s requirements for protecting healthcare and financial data were “sufficient.”

In Los Angeles, 35 percent of fraud victims said their data was used to make online purchases and 44 percent said their information was used to make purchases in-person. Among fraud victims in Los Angeles, 82 percent had received a notice of data breach previously which corresponds with reporting by victims in Miami (80 percent), but it is significantly higher than in Chicago (72 percent) and Minneapolis (66 percent).

“In this polarized political climate, it’s rare for Americans to express such agreement on any issue,” said Al Pascual, Javelin’s Senior Analyst of Fraud & Security. “But when it comes to the security of their personally identifiable information, the respondents said with one voice that the government must do more.”

According to the new study, the consequences of consumer fraud have a serious ripple effect: fraud victims report losing trust in the businesses where their data was compromised. For example, 59 percent of respondents whose data was breached at a retailer expressed “significantly decreased” trust in retailers who failed to protect their information. “When consumer trust drops, so do sales,” added Breyault, “This study is only the latest evidence for why the business community should be one of the most vocal advocates for protecting consumer data.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

In Harris v. Quinn, another slap in the face to workers – National Consumers League

Last week the Supreme Court‘s 5-4 decision in the Harris v. Quinn case was a slap in the face to working families and especially female employees across the country. In the home healthcare industry, where a vast majority of workers are minority women, the Harris v. Quinn decision eliminated agency fee arrangements for Illinois home healthcare workers. 

The ruling casts doubt and creates insecurity and instability for employers and unions throughout the public sector. The decision creates a special class for Medicaid and state funded home healthcare workers as neither private nor public but ‘partial public employees.’ 

Many of the basic workplace standards and protections that we take for granted as Americans are thanks to the efforts of collective bargaining and organized labor. At issue in this case was whether non-union members could reap the wages, benefits and protections negotiated in a collectively bargained contract without the needing to pay their fair share.

As ‘partial public employees’, the Court rules that the same labor rules do not apply and that workers can opt out of joining a union and not be required to contribute dues to the labor group that negotiates their employment contract – essentially allowing some workers to get free use of an employment consultant/lawyer while everyone else pays. 

At a time when wages are either eroding or remaining stagnant, and income inequality is out of control, joining together to collectively bargain is one of the only proven ways home care workers have to improve their lives and the lives of the people they care for. And with our aging population, the home healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing in the US, yet the workers have very little employment protections.

In the meantime, the Obama Administration must stick to its promise to the 2.5 million home care workers waiting for basic fair pay protections implementing the long-awaited federal companionship worker regulations by January 1, 2015. These new rules will finally extend basic federal minimum wage and overtime protections to the millions of workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities living independently in their homes.


GM announces how victims will be compensated – National Consumers League

Kenneth Feinberg arranged compensation for victims of 9/11, those affected by the BP oil spill, and now, he has announced compensation arrangements for those injured or killed by GM’s faulty ignition switch. Feinberg, a guru of compensation, was a 2010 NCL Trumpeter honoree.

Here’s the system he’s worked out – If you can prove your airbag didn’t go off and you were injured as a result, you’re entitled to compensation. Proving that for victims may be difficult, however, Feinberg said he’s talked to the Center for Auto Safety (CAS), plaintiffs’ lawyers, and victims before determining how the payouts would work.

Anyone who lost a family member gets an automatic $1 million payout. Spouses and dependents get $300,000 each. And it won’t matter if the driver was drinking or bore some responsibility for the crash  – that is different from a lawsuit where a jury would hear that evidence.  The mother of one young victim said, “Its hard to see my daughter reduced to a figure.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

These terrible cases of GM’s negligence, including GM lawyers fighting every claim and denying the defect for years, is hard to swallow. The value of the Feinberg approach is that victims don’t have to spend years litigating and proving their cases. It’s voluntary and if you want to sue, you still can. Bob Hilliard, a plaintiff’s lawyer from Texas who has many of the victims cases in a class action, is quoted in the WSJ as saying he thinks these settlements “don’t seem unfair” and that he is cautiously optimistic. Clarence Ditlow of the CAS thinks Feinberg’s fund should include a presumption that if your GM car stalled, your claim is valid.

But one wonders whether the culture of secrecy at GM and so many companies whose products have hurt consumers will really change. Yes, this will cost GM an estimated $7 billion but that becomes the cost of doing business. No one goes to jail, no one is criminally prosecuted. If corporate officials thought they might go to prison for putting dangerous products on the market and then denying responsibility that would change the calculus in my view. For now, it’s good to know that GM is admitting its wrongdoing, it’s good that Mary Barra is talking about a culture change, and most important, it’s good that victims are getting compensation.