David Sencer

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David J. Sencer MD was director of the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) from 1966 to 1977.[1]

Swine flu debacle

During his directorship, in 1976, the CDC ran a massive public vaccination campaign against Swine Flu that resulted in $3.5 billion in damages being claimed against the US government (see Swine Flu).

A 2009 report for CNN stated that the swine flu debacle cost Sencer his job:

Federal officials urged widespread vaccinations after swine flu broke out among soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, killing one of the 14 diagnosed with the illness. But the program was suspended after at least 25 people died from vaccine reactions. Other estimates put the death toll at 32 people, while about 500 others later suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome, which damages nerves and can lead to paralysis.
The results cost Dr. David Sencer his job as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was fired in 1977, after 11 years on the job. Now 84 and retired, he said this week that health officials "acted on the best knowledge that we had and believed that we were doing the right thing."[2]

Biographical details

The following is Sencer's biography from the ProtecttheTruth website:

Dr. David Sencer received his M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1951 and his M.P.H. from Harvard in 1958. He was in the Public Health Service from 1955-1977. His early assignments were in a county health department as a tuberculosis epidemiologist and in 1960 he became Assistant Director of the Communicable Disease Center. He became Director of the newly renamed Center for Disease Control in 1966 and served in that capacity until 1977. He was Senior Vice President for Medical and Scientific Affairs of Becton, Dickinson and Company from 1977-1981 and became Commissioner of Health in New York City in 1982, serving four years in that capacity. He was a consultant for international health activities from 1986-93 and retired at that time. In retirement he has been involved in problems of the aged and is a Volunteer Ombudsman for residents in long term care facilities. He serves on a variety of ethics committees at Emory University and teaches freshmen medical students.[3]


  1. David J. Sencer, M.D., ProtecttheTruth website, accessed 16 July 2009
  2. Ex-CDC head recalls '76 swine flu outbreak, CNN, 30 April 2009, accessed 16 July 2009
  3. David J. Sencer, M.D., ProtecttheTruth website, accessed 16 July 2009