Is There an Anti-Vaccine Shadow Network?

trump vaccine safety

Story at-a-glance -

  • Vaccine safety proponents are shamed and ridiculed to avoid open discussion. The Atlantic has gone so far as to propose a “shadow network of anti-vax doctors” is being emboldened by President Trump’s questions and concerns about vaccine safety
  • In reality, the public conversation about vaccination is being manipulated by a little known but well-funded and highly orchestrated pharma-driven disinformation campaign using every tactic in the book to squash freedom of thought and speech in order to protect vaccine industry profits
  • Documentation obtained via FOIA proves the FDA and CDC knew childhood vaccines were overexposing young children to mercury, a potent neurotoxin

By Dr. Mercola

In the wake of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. telling reporters that President Trump asked him to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, the media is angling to shame and ridicule vaccine safety and informed consent proponents, be they physicians, scientists or parents with the ability to read and think for themselves.  

Although Kennedy's appointment has not been confirmed yet by the Trump administration, The Atlantic has gone so far as to suggest that a "shadow network of anti-vax doctors" is being emboldened by questions and concerns the new president has voiced about vaccine safety.1

Like Kennedy and many other critics of vaccine science and policy, President Trump has been outspoken about his suspicions that vaccines and vaccine policies may not be nearly as safe as they're portrayed, and that the science is far from settled.

Meanwhile, Kennedy recently co-wrote an article in which he released documents revealing that officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "knew that infant vaccines were exposing American children to mercury far in excess of all federal safety guidelines since 1999."2

Recent reports also reveal that medical treatment guidelines are frequently influenced by drug industry ties,3 and scientific "citation cartels" are gaming the system by repeatedly citing each other's work,4 thereby making their studies appear more noteworthy and establishing what amounts to a false base of research that becomes difficult to overturn by independent researchers.

In all, there can be little doubt that the drug industry is getting anxious and this is why the heat is being turned up against anyone daring to question the status quo on vaccines.

Clearly, having an open discussion about vaccine safety means opening the door to doubt, and this is something the drug industry simply cannot afford. Meanwhile, avoiding the discussion is something parents, and the health care system as a whole, can no longer afford.

Emboldening 'Anti-Vaccine Shadow Network?'

Not surprisingly, The Atlantic and other media outlets have published diatribes attacking President Trump and his staff for meeting with not only Kennedy, but also Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist.

In 1998 Wakefield and 12 colleagues published a case series paper in The Lancet, reporting that parents of 9 of 12 children they'd seen for chronic gastrointestinal symptoms told them that their children's symptoms had begun soon after getting the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

A case series paper is different from a control study in that it simply describes experiences of a single patient or group of patients with a similar diagnosis. As Wakefield points out in his book, "Callous Disregard," the purpose of a case series paper is to "generate new hypotheses."

It is not supposed to suggest or investigate possible causality — and Wakefield's paper did not make any causal claims. Rather, he and his colleagues concluded:5

"We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immun[iz]ation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.

The world didn't read it that way, however, and the paper was retracted after generating massive international controversy and denials by public health officials and doctors giving vaccines to children.

According to Science Magazine, Trump met with Wakefield and three other vaccine safety activists in August, 2016:6

"Trump chatted with a group of donors that included four antivaccine activists for 45 minutes, according to accounts of the meeting, and promised to watch "Vaxxed," an antivaccine documentary produced by Wakefield …

Trump also expressed an interest in holding future meetings with the activists, according to participants."

Such meetings and discussions are being widely criticized as completely unnecessary and evidence of ignorance and anti-science heresy by anyone involved, on par with believing that the Earth is flat. As noted by The Atlantic:7

"… [M]ost mainstream doctors say the vaccine question is beyond settled: Vaccines are some of the safest and most important preventive-health measures around. There is no evidence they cause autism or any other health problem …

What's more, unvaccinated people don't just threaten their own health. Outbreaks are more likely to occur during dips in the percentage of a population that's immune … A high vaccine uptake rate protects the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike."

There's No Such Thing as Vaccine-Induced Herd Immunity

The Atlantic goes on to discuss the importance of herd immunity, noting that "not one child under the age of 1 died from the chicken pox between 2004 and 2007, even though the chicken pox vaccine is not given to children that young. They simply benefited from the so-called "herd immunity" of older kids who were vaccinated."

What the writer, Olga Khazan, fails to address is the fact that herd immunity doesn't work the same way for immunizations as it does for naturally-acquired immunity resulting from exposure to, and recovery from, illness.

To understand the difference between natural immunity versus vaccine-induced immunity, please see the video below.

Khazan also makes no effort to explain how the majority of outbreaks occur in areas that are thought to HAVE herd immunity status already, i.e., where the majority of people are fully vaccinated and "should" therefore protect the entire community from infection and transmission of infection.

Documents Reveal Government Betrayal

In his article, Kennedy claims that documentation8 obtained via FOIA proves the FDA and CDC knew childhood vaccines were overexposing children to mercury, which is a well-known potent neurotoxin.

Part of the FDA Modernization Act, passed by Congress in 1997, required the FDA to compile a list of pharmaceutical products that contain mercury.

More than 30 FDA licensed inactivated vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative, thimerosal, ended up on this list and included DPT/DTaP, HIB and hepatitis vaccines routinely given to babies between day of birth and 18 months old.

The FDA was also charged with conducting a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the mercury compounds on the list. This responsibility fell on the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER).

Prior to this, no one had ever added up the cumulative mercury exposure resulting from thimerosal-containing infant vaccines. According to Kennedy:9

"When the agency finally performed that basic calculation, the regulators realized that a [6]-month-old infant who received thimerosal-preserved vaccines following the recommended CDC vaccine schedule would have received a jaw dropping 187.5 micrograms of mercury.

Instead of immediately ordering the removal of thimerosal, FDA officials circled the wagons treating the public health emergency as a public relations problem. Peter Patriarca, then director of the FDA Division of Viral Products, warned his fellow bureaucrats that hasty removal of thimerosal from vaccines would:

'… raise questions about FDA being 'asleep at the switch' for decades by allowing a potentially hazardous compound to remain in many childhood vaccines, and not forcing manufacturers to exclude it from new products.

It will also raise questions about various advisory bodies regarding aggressive recommendations for use. We must keep in mind that the dose of ethylmercury was not generated by "rocket science."

Conversion of the percentage thimerosal to actual micrograms of mercury involves ninth grade algebra. What took the FDA so long to do the calculations? Why didn't CDC and the advisory bodies do these calculations when they rapidly expanded the childhood immunization schedule?'

Toxicology Models Confirm Mercury Overexposure

Dr. Barry Rumack was one of the consultants hired by the FDA to delve deeper into the cumulative mercury exposure problem from vaccines given to babies in the first few years of life. In 1999, Rumack presented a model of the mercury blood-and-body burden associated with childhood vaccines, showing that:

"… [T]himerosal-containing vaccines was dosing American children with mercury levels far exceeding all three federal safety guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FDA and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)," Kennedy writes.

"There was no point in time from birth to approximately 16-18 months of age that infants were below the EPA guidelines for allowable mercury exposure. In fact, according to the models, blood-and-body burden levels of mercury peaked at [6] months of age at a shockingly high level of 120ng/liter. To put this in perspective, the CDC classifies mercury poisoning as blood levels of mercury greater than 10 ng/L."

With the certain knowledge that infants were being exposed to unacceptably high mercury burdens through vaccines, what the FDA did next is unforgivable.

The agency that is supposed to protect the public from unsafe pharmaceutical products concealed these alarming findings about "bolus" (large amount) mercury exposures to infants receiving multiple thimerosal-containing vaccines simultaneously by using a statistical trick in which they simply averaged the mercury exposure over a period of six months.

In reality, the bolus mercury exposures via multiple vaccines given on a single day occurred at four specific times during the first year of a child's life: at birth, and at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. By averaging the exposures over the full six months, the spikes in mercury on the four days of vaccination disappeared. According to Kennedy:

"An analogy would be to compare taking two Tylenol tablets a day for a month to taking 60 Tylenol tablets in one day; the first exposure is acceptable, while the other is lethal."

Even With Deception, Mercury Burden Exceeded EPA Guidelines

Using this statistical trickery, mercury levels from childhood vaccinations ended up being lower than FDA and ATSDR guidelines, leading the Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics to report that:

"There is a significant safety margin incorporated into all the acceptable mercury exposure limits. Furthermore, there are no data or evidence of any harm caused by the level of exposure that some children may have encountered in following the existing immunization schedule. Infants and children who have received thimerosal-containing vaccines do not need to be tested for mercury exposure."

It would seem the last sentence was added as a protective buffer to prevent people from actually conducting further testing of actual mercury levels in children following repeated injections with mercury-containing vaccines in the first few years of life.

Remarkably, even with this statistical trick, "The levels were still above EPA guidelines which were the most stringent of the three," Kennedy writes,10 adding that "Numerous toxicologists have reported that the FDA's calculation, averaging these high bolus dose exposures, was not appropriate." Moreover, it appears the FDA may have misguided the pediatrician, Dr. Leslie Ball, assigned to oversee the public reporting of the ATSDR results.

According to Kennedy, Ball was unfamiliar with toxicology and, when confronted about the statistical manipulation, she replied that she was basically just following orders, saying, "That is what I was told to do." Email correspondence from 1999 shows that even Ball herself questioned the rationale behind averaging the exposures. In a July, 1999 email to Norman Baylor, Ph.D., director of the Office of Vaccines Research Review, marked "confidential," Ball asked:11

"Has the application of these calculations as exposure guidelines received the sign off by toxicologists? In prior discussions, the toxicologists seemed reluctant to state any Hg (mercury) level was 'safe.'"

CDC Vaccine Patents Create Serious Conflicts of Interest

Kennedy has also reported that the CDC owns more than 20 different vaccine patents and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines each year, noting that those patents create a significant undisclosed conflict of interest when it comes to the agency's involvement in vaccine safety.12

Mark Blaxill, who specializes in intellectual property law, in 2010 wrote about the fact that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), holds patent rights to the HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix, and receives a percentage of the profits from the administration of these vaccines on a global scale.13

In a recently released report, Ginger Taylor, M.S., director of the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice, lists the human vaccine-related patents held by the CDC, which currently total 27, plus another five patents for veterinary vaccines.14 (For links to the actual patents, please see the reference hyperlink to the original report.)

"Does this seem like a public health agency making "independent" vaccine recommendations, or a private company with an impressive portfolio to which one might look for investment opportunities?" she writes.15 Yet, "Nowhere on the CDC's website can I find the disclosure that the agency is a profit partner with the vaccine makers for whom it is supposed to be providing safety oversight.

Kennedy is in very safe territory by reporting that the CDC has over 20 patents that create vast, undisclosed conflicts of interests in vaccine safety. He is understating the problem by more than half … The vaccine business is currently a $30 billion per year industry … the World Health Organization … project[s] that it will become a $100 billion per year industry by 2025.

Thus, it is evident that the CDC and their business partners need the public to not only be [OK] with the 69 doses of recommended childhood vaccines, but to begin to adhere to the additional 100-plus doses of vaccines recommended by the new adult schedule, and to be ready to inject their families with the additional 271 vaccines in the development pipeline.

That profit boom can't happen if the corruption in the industry, and the vast, unassessed damage that it has done to the health of children (and now adults) is laid open for all to finally see.

The $30 billion per year industry will become a sub $10 billion per year industry, with a cap on how much it can make. Because there is a cap on how much the human body can process. We must continue to press the Trump administration for comprehensive vaccine safety review and reform, including the universal right to forgo any and all vaccines without coercion."

Pharma and CDC Fund Medical Trade and Front Groups to Undermine Vaccine Exemptions

Back in 2008, veteran CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson asked the question in her investigative report, "How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders?"  She found extensive financial ties between vaccine manufacturers and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Every Child by Two (ECBT) and Merck vaccine developer Paul Offit.16 The AAP, ECBT and Offit all lobby for elimination of vaccine exemptions for religious, conscientious or philosophical beliefs.  

The CDC is also a primary funding source for the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO),17 an organization whose mission "is to be a leader, partner, catalyst and voice for local health departments." While its name and mission statement would make you think it's a member-funded organization, it actually operates primarily on government grants, and the CDC is a primary source. Seven of 11 funding priorities for NACCHO programs also come from the CDC.

In July, 2011, NACCHO issued a policy statement urging state legislators to remove vaccine exemptions for religious, conscientious and philosophical beliefs.18 During the 2013 fight in the Oregon state legislature to eliminate the religious belief vaccine exemption (S.B. 132), NACCHO heavily lobbied for the bill and did it again in 2015 with another bill to eliminate all but medical vaccine exemptions granted by a doctor (SB442).

In fact, NACCHO was portrayed as a primary supporter of the bill,19 and also has put its weight behind eliminating personal belief vaccine exemptions in other states.

Moreover, NACCHO policies not only favor mandatory use of vaccines from cradle to grave, but also support the creation of national electronic registries of the vaccination status of all citizens, including adults. It's worth noting that in addition to the 69 doses of vaccines on the childhood vaccination schedule, the CDC recommends no less than 72 vaccinations between the ages of 19 and 65 for adults.

It would appear as though NACHHO is little more than a front group for the CDC, and through use of federal tax dollars, the CDC is actively undermining vaccine exemptions and civil liberties, including freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief. Could one reason be because the CDC is an agency that is financially profiting from promoting mandatory vaccination policies and laws?

Again, in reality, the CDC is hardly an impartial agency, and it does not appear to have safety at the core of its operation when it comes to vaccines. Rather it seems to be an integral part of the vaccine industry machine.

Another front group for the vaccine industry — and the CDC — is Voices for Vaccines, which "advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease." Its administrators are portrayed as two concerned mothers, who founded the blog Moms Who Vax. However, Voices for Vaccines is actually an "administrative project" of the Task Force for Global Health, the third largest charity in the U.S., which has deep ties to CDC and pharmaceutical industry funding.

A 2013 article by News from Underground explained that the Scientific Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines includes Merck vaccine developers and mandatory vaccination proponents Paul Offit and Stanley Plotkin; former CDC immunization director Alan Hinman, who is an Emory University professor and heads the Center for Vaccine Equity at the Task Force for Global Health; Vanderbilt professor William Schaffner; and director of the Immunization Action Coalition, Deborah Wexler. The Immunization Action Coalition is funded by pharmaceutical companies through the CDC Foundation.20

In 2014, the online blog VacTruth also detailed the many connections between Voices for Vaccines, the Task Force for Global Health, Emory University, the CDC, vaccine makers and other pro-vaccine organizations and promoters, including Dr. Paul Offit.21

The Atlantic may want you to think there's a shadow network of anti-vaccine doctors out there, determined to undermine the health of the world. But it's ironic, considering that, in reality, there is a vast, undisclosed, yet well-documented pharma-driven network using every propaganda tactic in the book to squash freedom of thought and speech about vaccination — all in the name of protecting profits.

Media Conveniently Ignores Conflicts of Interest When It Serves

Not surprisingly, corporate media pundits are all too willing to point out how many minutes President Trump might have spent face-to-face with Andrew Wakefield, a physician they did everything in their power to discredit, and the influence he might have on the president. However, they rarely, if ever, talk about the extraordinary conflicts of interest of another physician, Paul Offit, who is one of the most prominent vaccine propagandists typically cited by the media whenever vaccine safety questions arise.

As noted by Taylor, Offit has asserted that "holding vaccine patents, being funded by Merck and having Merck buy and distribute, to physicians, his book extolling the virtues of vaccines, does not compromise his objectivity as a member of the committee that determines what is and is not sound vaccine practice."22 In one instance, Offit said:

"I am a co-holder of a patent for a (rotavirus) vaccine. If this vaccine were to become a routinely recommended vaccine, I would make money off of that. When I review safety data, am I biased? That answer is really easy: absolutely not."

Ironically, the corporate media are now alleging that Kennedy — who has been outspoken about the toxicity of mercury in vaccines and conflicts of interest within the vaccination system for the last decade — is so tremendously biased that he could not possibly contribute anything worthwhile to the discussion, while Offit, who has made a small fortune off his promotion of mandatory vaccine use, is presented as the non-conflicted, objective and most respected authority in the vaccine field.

How does that work? Offit's proclamations of impartiality are ludicrous in the extreme and so are media reports claiming anyone but doctors like Offit is too biased to lead an investigation on vaccine safety.  

Funding Colors Patient Recommendations

I've written about how industry money can taint recommendations by individuals and health organizations alike on many occasions, and now yet another study has confirmed the power and influence of funding. According to Susannah Rose, a social worker and scientific director of research for the Cleveland Clinic's office of patient experience in Ohio, who led the study:

"Relationships with industry might bias advice, and I don't think anyone is immune to that. If they're getting funding and advocating for certain medications, there's a potential for undue risk of influence."23

Her study found that more than 67 percent of 245 patient advocacy groups received industry funding in the past year, and evidence suggests the source of funding played a role in recommendations made by such organizations. 

Adverse Events Vastly Underreported

In a best-case scenario, we would have accurate information about vaccine side effects. Unfortunately, we do not, and this has seriously undermined efforts to push for greater vaccine safety. In a recent paper published in PLOS Medicine, Dr. Gordon Schiff discusses the need for better prescription drug adverse event reporting. While he does not single out vaccine reactions, there's cause to believe vaccine reactions are even more underreported than other drug reactions.

"While not a pediatrician, as a primary care physician and patient safety researcher I have spent considerable time both submitting and reviewing safety reports. At one point, I had filed more error and adverse drug reactions reports than all the other physicians at my public hospital in Chicago combined, making me either the institution's most dangerous prescriber or its most diligent reporter," he writes.

What he describes about underreporting of drug adverse events by physicians cuts to a core problem of vaccine safety. On the one hand, the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is specifically set up to record adverse events related to vaccines in the U.S. On the other hand, it's criticized as being unreliable due to severe underreporting.

The answer is obvious: insist on mandatory reporting. But that's not happening. On the contrary, there appears to be a concerted effort to control and manipulate statistics by discouraging and minimizing reports, effectively sweeping problems — no matter how severe or widespread — under the proverbial rug.

Parents of vaccine injured children were the ones who secured vaccine safety informing, recording and reporting provisions in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. The law's vaccine reaction reporting requirement directed doctors and all vaccine providers to report adverse events following vaccination to VAERS, which is jointly operated by the CDC and the FDA.

This is NOT a prerequisite for the person making a vaccine reaction report to VAERS to personally make a judgment about whether or not he or she believes the adverse event was caused by the vaccination. Rather, a report is supposed to be filed for any and all hospitalizations, injuries, deaths and serious health problems following vaccination. Period. It's not up to the vaccine provider to decide whether a reaction is related to the vaccine or not.  

Despite this legal requirement, most vaccine providers are unfamiliar with the reporting process, are confused about who should be doing the reporting, and/or are unwilling to file a report. Each year, VAERS receives about 30,000 reports, and studies into reporting habits suggest adverse reactions are only filed in 1 to 10 percent of all cases.24

In a 2015 article, an ER nurse and former police officer described his experiences with vaccine reactions. He said he's seen first-hand how many doctors not only refuse to report vaccine reactions, but actually go through extra trouble to cover them up by altering the medical records and removing mention of recent vaccinations.25,26

Doctors Frequently Overestimate Benefits and Underestimate Harms of Medical Interventions

Meanwhile, recent research27 reveals that clinicians frequently overestimate benefits and underestimate harms of medical treatments, tests and screenings. When it comes to vaccines, there's little doubt the same pattern is to be found. According to the authors:

"In this systematic review of 48 studies (13, 011 clinicians), most participants correctly estimated 13 percent of the 69 harm expectation outcomes and 11 percent of the 28 benefit expectations. The majority of participants overestimated benefit for 32 percent of outcomes, underestimated benefit for 9 percent, underestimated harm for 34 percent, and overestimated harm for 5 percent of outcomes.

Meaning: Clinicians rarely had accurate expectations of benefits or harms, with inaccuracies in both directions, but more often underestimated harms and overestimated benefits … Inaccurate perceptions about the benefits and harms of interventions are likely to result in suboptimal clinical management choices."

To finish where I started, I believe it's imperative we start having an open public discussion about vaccine safety and conflicts of interest in the mandatory vaccination system. The industry does not have the right to shame doctors and patients for wanting to be safe rather than sorry.

The vaccine industry and the federal agencies charged with vaccine safety oversight are rife with conflicts of interest, as the National Vaccine Information Center and other individuals and organizations have pointed out over the past three decades.28,29 It's time to get to the bottom of it. Profit cannot be allowed to continue being the sole driving force of government health recommendations. Our society simply cannot afford to pay that price any longer.

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