By Dr. Mercola
Only nine days away from his swearing-in as president, Donald Trump held his first press conference since the election and announced that the pharmaceutical industry was "getting away with murder" and that during his presidency he would do something about high drug prices with more competitive bidding for federal contracts. His remarks sent drug stocks into a sudden nosedive.1
As noted by Brad Loncar, manager of Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF: "When somebody that high-profile says something that negative, people do not want to invest in it." According to Reuters:2
"Trump's campaign platform included allowing the Medicare healthcare program to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies, which the law currently prohibits.
He has also discussed making it easier to import drugs at cheaper prices. 'We are going to start bidding. We are going to save billions of dollars over time,' Trump said."
Trump's comments came only one day after Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told reporters that Trump had asked him to "chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity."
Although the Trump transition team quickly denied that any decision had been made on such a commission, shockwaves reverberated throughout the drug industry in speculation as to what impact this commission, if formed, might have on vaccine uptake and sales.3
Robert Kennedy and Media Coverage of a Possible New Vaccine Safety Commission
Although Trump himself has not made a public statement, if you had any doubts whatsoever that conventional media is following an industry-created script, look no further than the incredibly biased coverage of Kennedy's reported appointment.
A vast majority of the articles written are so blatantly slanted and unbalanced, it is hard to understand why self-respecting professional journalists would ever want their names associated with them. Repeatedly, such articles claim the science on vaccines is settled and vaccines are safe.4 Period.
The New York Times — which recently promised to rededicate itself "to the fundamental mission of Times journalism … to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives"5 — wrote a remarkably biased article about Kennedy's appointment, saying:6
"Mr. Trump … asked a prominent anti-vaccine crusader to lead a new government commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, ushering debunked conspiracy theories about the dangers of immunization into the White House …
Among his many political pursuits, Mr. Trump picked up the anti-vaccine cause a few years back. In 2012, he tweeted … 'A study says @autism is out of control — a 78 percent increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations.' These views, to say the least, are not the scientific consensus …"
So, The New York Times, supposedly newly rededicated to impartial reflection on all sides of the issue, simply decides there's a consensus among all scientists and makes no attempt to address a single argument made by those who provide substantial evidence that there are big gaps in vaccine safety science.
That's hardly upholding journalistic integrity. Yet, this is what we're seeing everywhere in news reporting by conventional media dominated by corporate interests these days.
Is Vaccine Safety as Established a Fact as Gravity?
There are no long-term studies comparing differences in health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
The pharmaceutical and medical trade industries claim a vaccine's benefits always outweigh the potential harms, but no solid scientific evidence is provided to back up such claims. It's really little more than opinion.
The government and pharmaceutical industries say it would be unethical to study vaccinated versus unvaccinated children, as the unvaccinated children would be put at risk. Yet more and more parents are having first-hand experience with adverse reactions, and choosing to opt-out of the government vaccine schedule.
Ask a parent of a child who died or suffered permanent brain damage after vaccination and I'm sure you'll get a very different response. Curiously, anyone who dares to question the quality and quantity of vaccine studies is immediately branded anti-science and a medical heretic.
In response to Kennedy's announcement that Trump had asked him to head up a commission on vaccine safety, Dr. David Kimberlin, co-director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), said:7
"We don't have to keep asking if gravity is real. We don't have to keep asking if clean water is a good thing. Yes it is. Vaccines are good things. They save lives."
According to Kimberlin, "The science proving the safety of vaccination is settled and does not need to be investigated again." But if it's settled, where are the studies?
Where's the research showing that 50 doses of 14 vaccines administered to children in combination and repeatedly in the first six years of life equals long-term health and results in few, if any, problems? What are the multi-generational effects to the immune system with so many vaccine doses?
The sad fact is the often repeated mantra that vaccines are absolutely safe and that there is nothing to worry about is a case of thinking that if a falsehood is repeated over and over again, and long enough, people will believe it's true.
Why are vaccine proponents so terrified of an honest vaccine safety review? This in and of itself raises serious questions.
Another fact that should give everyone pause is the witch hunt unleashed on anyone who dares to question the never-proven-hypothesis that vaccines are so unequivocally safe and beneficial for everyone that everyone should be forced, by law, to get vaccinated with every government-recommended vaccine.
Cleveland Clinic Doctor Faces Disciplinary Action for Stating the Obvious
One of the latest victims of such a witch hunt is Cleveland Clinic physician Daniel Neides, director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Neides writes a monthly column for cleveland.com, a publication that is part of the Sun News organization, which also publishes the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In his January 6 column,8 Neides expressed his concerns about the ever-growing toxic burden humans face and his disappointing experience with the annual flu shot, which left him bedridden for two days. He also touched on the potential vaccine-autism link, saying:
"Why do I mention autism now twice in this article. Because we have to wake up out of our trance and stop following bad advice. Does the vaccine burden — as has been debated for years — cause autism? I don't know and will not debate that here.
What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES.
The adjuvants, like aluminum — used to stimulate the immune system to create antibodies — can be incredibly harmful to the developing nervous system.
Some of the vaccines have helped reduce the incidence of childhood communicable diseases, like meningitis and pneumonia. That is great news. But not at the expense of neurologic diseases like autism and ADHD increasing at alarming rates."
His comments ignited a media fire storm and prompted the Cleveland Clinic to issue a statement saying Neides would face disciplinary action for his comments.9
The column was briefly removed from the cleveland.com site, but mysteriously reappeared and became accessible again after Neides retracted his statements and apologized for what his physician colleagues and the media are characterizing as an anti-vaccine "rant."
If a prominent, well-respected physician cannot state the obvious without facing potentially career-ending consequences, what hope do we have of ever getting at the truth? WHY is open dialogue about vaccination not permitted?
It's simply not reasonable to shut every discussion down with the old "the science is settled" claim, while the scientific literature is still littered with outstanding questions.
Coincidence Claims Falter as Vaccine Damage Becomes More Common
On January 11, a group of concerned parents rallied at the State Capitol in Mississippi in the hopes of having their voices heard in the vaccine debate.10 One of those parents was Dr. Scott Guidry, whose son developed autism spectrum symptoms following some of his childhood vaccinations. Guidry told WJTV:
"My son was vaccine-injured, and we reversed the vaccine injury, and now he's recovered from autism. I'm not against vaccines. I learned the same importance of vaccines like every other physician who went to med school did. I know. But it's never really been studied, the safety of vaccines. There's never been a long-term safety study on vaccines."
According to this news report, Mississippi has one of the highest vaccination rates in the U.S. It also has one of the highest autism rates, as well as the highest infant mortality rate in the country.11 Coincidence? No one knows, but in the absence of firm proof either way, many parents are renewing their call for the legal right to make voluntary decisions about which vaccines their child should receive and if or when they should be given.
The same scenario is playing out in other states across the nation. The numbers of children suffering with chronic illness and disability, including autism spectrum disorders, are increasing. The numbers of children and adults who have experienced serious vaccine reactions are also increasing.
It has become so common that a majority of people now have a family member or know someone who has been adversely affected by one or more vaccines. Eventually, this first-hand experience with vaccine reactions will come to include most physicians and politicians, as well.
At a certain point, the coincidence-theory simply cannot hold water any longer, and that's what we're starting to see now. Very often, people don't care enough to get involved in the discussion until it's personal and, in recent years, we've seen a growing number of influential people speaking up and describing their personal experiences with vaccine reactions in the public forum.
Robert De Niro is the latest example of a well-known celebrity parent, who has gone on the public record questioning vaccine safety and the reported link between vaccines and autism. Not surprisingly, like everyone who raises questions about vaccine safety, he has been attacked by the media as being uninformed and promoting dangerous ideas.
Rick Rollens, former secretary of the California State Senate, and retired Representative Dan Burton (R-Ind.) are two examples of individuals who worked for government and publicly shared their personal experiences with vaccination and autism. They were strongly criticized for speaking out as they attempted to open up discussions about vaccine safety. Absolutely no one is above ridicule should they dare question the safety of vaccines.
Paul 'For Profit' Offit's at It Again
Wherever discussion about vaccine safety is covered by the media, Dr. Paul Offit is there in the middle of it. A vaccine developer for Merck and author of several books attempting to marginalize vaccine safety critics, Offit has become the "go-to" doctor whenever corporatized conventional media wants a spokesperson to deny vaccine risks and defend "vaccine safety."
Rarely, if ever, does media note his deep ties to the vaccine industry, and the fact that he stands to profit personally from maintaining the illusion that vaccines are absolutely safe for everyone all the time, which also protects the status quo for industry profitmaking.
The Daily Beast recently ran an article12 penned by Offit, in which he says "Trump needs vaccine experts, not conspiracy theorists." How do you know a propagandist when you see one? For starters, they're extremely fond of throwing around derogatory and humiliating terms like "conspiracy theorists," "hacks" and "quacks," in lieu of making a solid argument.
Offit has earned tens of millions of dollars in royalties from the Rotateq vaccine, and has notoriously stated that infants can tolerate 10,000 vaccine doses at once without ill effect. He's also been caught making unsubstantiated and false statements about former CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, and lying to the OC Register about providing CBS News with the details of his financial relationship with the vaccine maker Merck.13
Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), sued Offit for defamation in 2009, along with reporter Amy Wallace and publisher Conde Nast. "She lies," Offit was quoted as stating "flatly" about Fisher in Wired magazine. However, no evidence supporting his accusation was provided and Fisher was never asked by the reporter for a comment on Offit's baseless allegation.
Fisher sued in the Fourth Circuit federal court in Virginia for a jury trial and $1 million in damages, but Judge Claude Hilton dismissed the defamation lawsuit. Hilton's primary argument for dismissal was that both Fisher and Offit are public figures and that, in his opinion, Offit's allegation that "she lies" was made in a moment of emotional exasperation and the heat of spirited public debate, which is the hallmark of free speech protected by the First Amendment.
It is interesting how the free speech argument was used to dismiss a clear-cut case of defamation. The big question today is: Will the First Amendment protect Neides or anyone else in the U.S. who dares to publicly criticize the safety or effectiveness of vaccines?
In Absence of Reliable Injury Reporting, How Can Safety Be Ascertained?
In 2015, media reports noted that a "study" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed that vaccines rarely ever cause serious reactions. The study in question used CDC Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) data, concluding there were only 33 "confirmed vaccine-triggered anaphylaxis cases" among the 25,173,965 vaccine doses administered between January 2009 and December 2011.14
However, there's a significant problem with using this study to "prove" safety, as there are dozens of serious reactions besides anaphylaxis. To say that vaccines rarely cause serious reactions based on the occurrence of anaphylaxis alone is misleading at best.
Moreover, it's reasonable to suspect that the findings rely on incomplete data. The assumption is that the VSD — which collects health data from nine health care partners — actually receives thorough and accurate information about what happens to a patient following vaccination. But the chances of that are actually slim, since studies have shown vaccine reactions are rarely if ever recorded or reported.
Providers of vaccines are by law required to report vaccine reactions to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), jointly operated by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite that, most vaccine providers are unaware of this requirement, are unfamiliar with the reporting process, are confused about who should be doing the reporting, and/or are unwilling to file a report. As noted by The Vaccine Reaction, an online journal newspaper published by NVIC:15
"Although the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act [NCVIA] of 1986 requires doctors and other health care providers who administer vaccines to make a report to VAERS for 'hospitalizations, injuries, deaths and serious health problems' following vaccination, it is estimated that this happens in only between 1 to 10 percent of the cases.
VAERS receives about 30,000 reports annually. Given the extreme under-reporting to the system, it is likely that the true number of vaccine adverse reactions in the United States is closer to at least 300,000 per year, and perhaps as high as 3 million. One can only guess how many of those would be serious reactions. Suddenly, the argument that vaccines are safe because adverse reactions are 'rare' becomes a bogus one."
If underreporting to VAERS is that common, chances are, the VSD is no better. Adding to the problem, the VSD data is not openly available to independent researchers, and without replication, the accuracy of the findings must forever remain suspect.
The Vaccine Reaction Cover-Up
Most pediatricians will tell you they've never seen a vaccine reaction, or that reactions are really rare. However, when a child suffers a vaccine reaction, they typically end up in the emergency room (ER), not the pediatrician's office. In a 2015 article, an ER nurse and former police officer shares his experiences with vaccine reactions, noting he's "seen the cover-up" first hand. He writes, in part:16,17
"I cannot even begin to guess how many times over the years I have seen vaccine reactions come through my E.R. Without any exaggeration, it has to be counted in hundreds … The cases almost always presented similarly, and often no one else connected it. The child comes in with either a fever approaching 105, or seizures, or lethargy/can't wake up, or sudden overwhelming sickness, screaming that won't stop, spasms [or] GI inclusion …
And one of the first questions I would ask as triage nurse, was, are they current on their vaccinations? … Parents (and co-workers) usually just think I'm trying to rule out the vaccine preventable diseases, when in fact, I am looking to see how recently they were vaccinated to determine if this is a vaccine reaction.
Too often I heard a parent say something akin to 'Yes they are current, the pediatrician caught up their vaccines this morning during their check up, and the pediatrician said they were in perfect health!' …
But here's the more disturbing part. [Of] all the cases I've seen, I have never seen any medical provider report them to VAERS. I have filed VAERS reports. But I am the only nurse I have EVER met that files VAERS reports. I have also never met a doctor that filed a VAERS report. Mind you, I have served in multiple hospitals across multiple states, alongside probably well over a hundred doctors and probably 300 [to] 400+ nurses … What does that say about reported numbers? …
And the final part of that, is that I have, first hand, seen blatant cover ups from doctors. I have seen falsification of medical records and documentation via intentional omission …
I remind them that VAERS is a reporting body for ANY symptoms that are contemporaneous to vaccination, whether causation is believed to be associated or not, and I get the dismissal that they are not filing it because it [the vaccine] has nothing to do with it [the symptom] … This is a systemic suppression of information and statistics."
How Vaccine Mandates Are Imposed on Health Care Workers in Absence of Legal Requirements
In related commentary, according to Dr. Meryl Nass, a vaccine blogger with special interests in vaccine-induced illnesses, it appears American hospitals do not actually have a legal leg to stand on when firing health care workers over vaccine refusals, because the federal government claims it does not impose vaccine mandates for adults.
So why are hospitals firing workers for refusing influenza vaccinations? In large part, it appears to be a strategy designed to receive higher Medicare reimbursements. Organizations co-created by the federal government have created guidelines for improving "quality of care" in hospitals, and Medicare reimbursements are used to forcibly impose certain quality measures over others, such as vaccination.
In a nutshell, hospitals that have higher vaccination rates for patients and health care workers get higher Medicare reimbursement rates. But this has little to do with actual federal mandates. In fact, according to the CDC, "there are no legally mandated vaccinations for adults, except for persons entering military service. CDC does recommend certain immunizations for adults, depending on age, occupation and other circumstances, but these immunizations are not required by law."
Flu Vaccine Mandate for Hospital Workers Is Financially Driven
Employee coverage rates of flu vaccination is a quality measure that is reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As noted by Nass:
"The bottom line is that the federal government squeezed hospitals by requiring hospitals to report the rates of yearly influenza vaccinations of both hospital staff and hospital patients, including these two measures in a global calculation of hospital 'quality.' A hospital's 'quality' number determines approximately 3.75 percent of its overall Medicare reimbursements rate in 2017 …
In the health care industry, 3.75 percent is enough to make a hospital sink or swim. The hospitals, predictably, acquiesced by demanding their employees be vaccinated or fired. But the federal government insists it imposes no mandates. Yet its actions created a de facto mandate. Where are the lawyers who will litigate this in federal court?
I don't understand why cases are going through EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], where employees may win, when their wins do not impact the de facto health care worker flu shot mandates that continue to be imposed in most U.S. health care institutions today."
Vaccinating Hospital Workers Has No Impact on Patient Safety
Interestingly, hospitals began mandating annual flu shots for their workers AFTER meta-analyses by Cochrane (considered the gold standard of meta reviews), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC concluded that health care worker vaccinations do not protect patients from influenza — a finding that raises questions about its validity as a "quality of care" measure in the first place.
The first one, published in July 2013, by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found "laboratory-proven influenza or its complications (lower respiratory tract infection, or hospitalization or death due to lower respiratory tract illness) did not identify a benefit of health care worker vaccination on these key outcomes … This review does not provide reasonable evidence to support the vaccination of health care workers to prevent influenza in those aged 60 years or older resident in long-term care institutions."
The Cochrane Database Systematic Review published an update to this analysis in June, 2016, noting that 5 percent of health care workers who had received the influenza vaccine and 8 percent of workers who were unvaccinated had laboratory-proven influenza each season, and that health care workers may transmit influenza to patients.
Still, the conclusions remained the same. "Offering influenza vaccination to health care workers based in long-term care homes may have little or no effect on the number of residents who develop laboratory-proven influenza compared with those living in care homes where no vaccination is offered," the authors write. They did note one study of moderate quality evidence suggests health care vaccinations may reduce lower respiratory tract infections in residents by 2 percent, from 6 to 4 percent.
Another 2013 meta-analysis — this one by the CDC — found, "The evidence quality that health care personnel vaccination reduces patient mortality and influenza cases is moderate and low, respectively."19 A third analysis of 20 different studies,20 also published in 2013, found that while influenza vaccination of health care workers is likely to offer some indirect protection to vulnerable patients, the evidence is limited.
Science Be Damned
As noted by Nass:21
"Each of these three groups examined the world literature on the effects of health care worker vaccinations in 2012 [to 20]13, and each determined that there was no statistically significant evidence that health care worker influenza vaccinations prevented either influenza cases or influenza deaths in their patients. You cannot get better evidence than this.
Health care worker flu vaccinations, despite what the public has been told, do not improve patient care. Furthermore, there is no good evidence that flu shots benefit the over-65 Medicare patients who are also being vaccinated to comply with a second 'quality' measure.
To my knowledge, no one has looked to see if hospital inpatients have poorer outcomes because of these shots, but they certainly might. The shots cause a generalized inflammatory reaction that might adversely affect patients with, for example, autoimmune diseases, pneumonia or heart attacks."
If you ask me, I think it's about time we get a vaccine safety review commission started, and if Kennedy is the one who heads it, I wish him the best in this endeavor and hope he seeks advice from Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of NVIC. We must bring back some objective sanity to the discussion about vaccine safety and scientific integrity.
It's going to be an uphill battle all the way, but it is encouraging to see the topic being discussed by the new administration and, hopefully, it will result in better science and holding drug companies more accountable for the safety of their products.