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Free Speech and Shutting Down Vaccine Debate

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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  • The U.S. Constitution protects the civil liberties of all Americans, including freedom of thought, speech, conscience, religious belief and the right to dissent and petition the government. Yet, in recent years we’ve seen a frightening erosion of these civil liberties under the guise of “protecting public health”
  • The effort to shut down public discussion about vaccine safety is reaching a fever-pitch as online communication platforms have started actively censoring information that questions the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and government vaccine policies
  • Vaccine-related videos on YouTube must now carry a “Vaccine controversies” information panel, warning viewers that “Vaccine hesitancy ... contradicts overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines”
  • Facebook is now hiding vaccine critical content, Pinterest blocks it, Amazon has removed films from its Prime Video streaming service and books discussing vaccine risks and/or biomedical and holistic health treatments for autism, and Google is burying content and videos relating to vaccine safety issues
  • Vaccine hesitancy continues to grow because vaccine injuries have become commonplace, making it clear one-sided, pro-vaccine information cannot be trusted

The following referenced information contains opinion and perspective on a health topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics that is being discussed in public forums, including in medical, law and other professional journals; newspapers, magazines and other print; broadcast and online media outlets; state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.

Readers are encouraged to go to the websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for information on vaccine policymaking; to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for information on regulating vaccines for safety and effectiveness; and to National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for information on research and the development of new vaccines.

The World Health Organization has stated that “vaccine hesitancy” is one of the top 10 global public health threats.

The U.S. Constitution protects the civil liberties of all Americans, including freedom of thought, speech, conscience, religious belief and the right to dissent and petition the government.1,2,3 Yet, in recent years we've seen a frightening erosion of these civil liberties under the guise of "protecting public health."

I'm talking about the ongoing effort to shut down all public discussion about vaccine safety, of course — an effort that is now reaching a fever-pitch as online communication platforms have started actively censoring information that questions the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

The featured video, "Free Speech and Shutting Down the Vaccine Debate" by Truthstream Media, addresses this disturbing turn of events. As noted in the video, all vaccine-related videos on YouTube now carry a "Vaccine controversies" information panel, warning viewers that:

"Vaccine hesitancy is a reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or have one's children vaccinated. Identified by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 global health threats of 2019,4 it contradicts overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines."

What's Driving Growing 'Vaccine Hesitancy'?

The information panel includes a link to the "vaccine hesitancy" page on Wikipedia, which further states that "Hesitancy results from public debates around the medical, ethical and legal issues related to vaccines," and that "Despite overwhelming scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective, unsubstantiated scares regarding their safety still occur, resulting in outbreaks and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases." This is propaganda at its most obnoxious, as:

a. Scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective does not in fact exist. On the contrary, in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that government licensed and recommended childhood vaccines mandated by states are "unavoidably unsafe."5

b. Outbreaks of infectious disease often occur in highly-vaccinated populations6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14

c. Vaccine hesitancy does NOT actually result from exposure to information about vaccine safety (or lack thereof). It's spreading because most people now know someone who was healthy, got vaccinated and became permanently unwell or disabled (or died).15,16

Widespread personal experience is the real cause behind growing "vaccine hesitancy," and this is why the vaccine industry is pushing so hard to shut down all public conversation about vaccination and eliminate all vaccine exemptions. If they succeed, then the harms can continue to be swept under the rug and their extraordinary profit center can continue to grow unimpeded.

As noted by Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) in "Taking No Prisoners in the Vaccine Culture War":

"No public health official, professor or legislator in America can explain why millions and millions of children and more than half of all adults are chronically ill or disabled.17

This is the real public health emergency that mothers and fathers want to talk about, but Congress and medical trade groups do not want to discuss. This is the elephant in the room at every public hearing on bills proposing to take away or expand vaccine informed consent rights being held in state legislatures today."

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Summary of How Free Speech Is Being Dismantled in the US

The featured video, as well as several of my recent articles, discusses the growing effort to vilify (if not outright criminalize) those who express concerns about vaccine safety and to shut down free speech in the U.S. — but only speech relating to vaccine harms, not the benefits of vaccines. Here's a summary of some of the most prominent examples:

The World Health Organization lists "vaccine hesitancy" as one of the top 10 global public health threats for 2019.18

In a January interview with CBS News,19 Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) lied when he flat-out denied the fact that vaccines can cause injury or death. The fact is, the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 has paid out $4 billion in awards for vaccine damages and deaths, and that's just 31 percent of all the injury petitions filed.20,21

February 27, 2019, Fauci also lied to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations at its "Confronting a Growing Public Health Threat: Measles Outbreaks in the U.S." hearing.22 In his testimony, he claimed childhood vaccines like the MMR are completely safe and do not cause serious reactions, such as encephalitis (brain inflammation).23 The facts are:

a. The MMR vaccine package insert24 published by Merck states that "Encephalitis and encephalopathy have been reported approximately once for every 3 million doses of M-M-R II or measles-mumps- and rubella-containing vaccine."

b. The vaccine information statement (VIS), which doctors by federal law (under the 1986 Vaccine Injury Act) are required to give parents before their children receive a CDC recommended vaccine, states that "severe" adverse effects of the MMR25 and MMRV26 vaccines include "deafness; long-term seizures; coma; lowered consciousness; and brain damage."

One of the "moderate" adverse events listed as associated with the MMRV vaccine is encephalitis.

c. Studies have shown the MMR vaccine can cause encephalitis and encephalopathy (acute or chronic brain dysfunction).27

d. As noted in a 2015 paper in the journal Vaccine,28 "We summarize epidemiologic data on deaths following vaccination, including examples where reasonable scientific evidence exists to support that vaccination caused or contributed to deaths.

Rare cases where a known or plausible theoretical risk of death following vaccination exists include anaphylaxis, vaccine-strain systemic infection after administration of live vaccines to severely immunocompromised persons, intussusception after rotavirus vaccine, Guillain-Barré syndrome after inactivated influenza vaccine, fall-related injuries associated with syncope after vaccination, yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease or associated neurologic disease, serious complications from smallpox vaccine including eczema vaccinatum, progressive vaccinia, postvaccinal encephalitis, myocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy and vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis from oral poliovirus vaccine."

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, also misinformed Congress when she stated, "There are rare instances in children with certain very specific underlying problems with their immune system in whom the vaccine is contraindicated."

She lied when she said the MMR vaccine "does not cause brain swelling and encephalitis" in healthy children, and that parents would know if their child was at risk beforehand, because their child's doctor would tell them if this were the case.29

In February, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb threatened state legislators with federal government intervention if they do not eliminate vaccine exemptions.30,31,32

California state Sen. Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is urging the U.S. Surgeon General to push mandatory vaccinations to the top of the federal public health agenda.33,34 According to Pan, mandating vaccines, as was done for smallpox during the Revolutionary War, would "protect our right as Americans to be free of preventable diseases."

A bill has been introduced in Washington, D.C., allowing minor children of any age to get vaccines in the city without a parent's knowledge or consent after a doctor says the child is "mature" enough to make the decision.35

In recent weeks, the media have been flooded with reports of how tech platforms and social media are fueling "anti-vax" fears and spreading misinformation, and doing nothing to prevent sharing of vaccine safety-related material between users.36

Art Caplan, a bioethics professor and head of the division of medical ethics at New York University School of Medicine, has stated that "companies cannot allow themselves to be 'vehicles for misinformation contagion,'" and must take steps to censor information that might lead people to avoid vaccination.37

In response, YouTube has demonetized "anti-vaccine" channels, barring them from advertising on the platform.38

Facebook is "hiding" vaccine critical content and barring "ads that contain misinformation about vaccines."39

Pinterest is blocking search terms related to vaccines, as well as "memes and pins from sites promoting anti-vaccine propaganda"40

Amazon has removed films critical of vaccine safety from its Prime Video streaming service,41,42 as well as books discussing vaccine risks and failures and/or biomedical and holistic health treatments for autism.43

Google is burying content and videos relating to vaccine safety issues.44

The Case of Dr. Peter Hotez

The video spends quite some time dissecting the influence of Dr. Peter Hotez, and for good reason. Over the past two years, Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, has called for violent suppression of vaccine safety information, bullying parents of vaccine-injured children45 — calling them "anti-vaxxers" even though these parents are discussing their children's injuries that occurred as a result of vaccination, not because they didn't vaccinate them — classifying vaccine safety and pro-informed consent advocacy groups such as the NVIC as "hate groups" that "hate children,"46 and saying we must "snuff out" (a term typically reserved for gangster style murder) the "anti-vaccine" movement.47 He's also stated that vaccination "is not a choice; it's a responsibility."48

"Free Speech and Shutting Down the Vaccine Debate" details some of Hotez's professional history, revealing just how strong his ties to the vaccine industry are. He even published a paper last year on how to develop your "personal brand" as a scientist,49 saying he got the idea in 2012, and has been developing his brand as a "vaccinologist and autism dad" ever since, for the express purpose of combating "a well-organized and well-funded pseudoscience anti-vaccine lobby."

It's not so surprising then that Hotez is calling for nothing short of a scientific dictatorship that will control what can and cannot be said about medical and scientific topics.

On at least two occasions, including during a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan show, Hotez has suggested Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Reddit, Instagram and other online platforms should hire chief scientific officers to manage, filter and regulate content50,51 — a truly ludicrous proposition by any definition of freedom of speech.

Are Parents 'Inundated' With Anti-Vaccine Information?

According to Hotez,52,53 parents are so inundated with anti-vaccine propaganda that they don't have the opportunity to get to the truth. "The anti-vaccine lobby owns the internet right now," he told Rogan, adding there are about 500 anti-vaccine websites, and whenever you do an online search for vaccine information, all you end up with is their misinformation.

"Free Speech and Shutting Down the Vaccine Debate" demonstrates just how ridiculous that idea is, and you can test it for yourself, using whatever search engine you prefer. Simply type in any vaccine-related search term, and see what kind of results you get, and just how far you have to scroll to actually find any accurate information detailing not just the complications of infectious diseases, but also the complications of vaccines that can cause brain and immune system damage and chronic poor health.

There are about 200 million active websites today, so clearly, what Hotez labels as the "anti-vaccine lobby," even at 500 websites does not "own" or even dominate the internet by any stretch of the imagination. It's actually less than a fraction of a percent, 0.00025 percent to be exact.

Citing information from an SEO expert, the video reports that "The average web user won't go past the first five listings on a search engine results page (SERP) … [M]ore than 67 percent of all clicks on SERPs go to the top five listings … Research shows that websites on the first SERP receive almost 95 percent of web traffic, leaving only 5 percent for remaining SERPs."

What that means for vaccines is that pro-mandatory vaccination sites, mostly government- and industry-funded and operated, receive 95 percent of the web traffic from web searches. Yet vaccine hesitancy continues to grow. It should be obvious that the reason for this is not because people are inundated with "anti-vaccine" information.

Vaccine "hesitancy" continues to grow because many more people have learned they cannot trust one-sided information about vaccine benefits that basically denies vaccine side effects.

The public has good reason to have legitimate concerns about vaccine side effects and, now, the forced vaccination lobby is trying to eliminate the ability of people to access and share vaccine information or even discuss it among themselves. This kind of censorship is bound to raise red flags and set off warning bells in most people.

The headline of Hotez's most recent article even pronounces "Vaccines cannot and do not cause autism — there's no debate."54 Indeed, avoiding debate is a Hotez hallmark. So far, he's refused every invitation to debate other experts on these issues.

Again, this kind of behavior is what causes "vaccine hesitancy," because if those wanting to shut down the debate have valid science to back their claims, there's no reason to avoid open debate. The refusal to debate the issue means they lack the information required to win.

The websites of vaccine safety and pro-informed consent organizations like the NVIC, on the other hand, are loaded with referenced scientific studies and government data showing there is rational cause for concern and urgent need to reform public health laws that mandate vaccine use.

How Many Are Actually Injured by Vaccines?

According to the most recent vaccine injury compensation data from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA),55 the total compensation paid out since the VICP began operating in 1988 is approximately $4 billion. Since then, more than 20,428 petitions for compensation for vaccine injuries have been filed with the VICP.

Of those, 17,718 petitions have been adjudicated, meaning a formal decision was pronounced; 6,430 received compensation and 11,288 were dismissed. Interestingly, 4,250 of the petitions that have received compensations were filed between 2006 and 2017, suggesting there's been a significant rise in vaccine-related injury petitions to the VICP in the past decade, although two out of three claims continue to be denied.

Sadly, today the majority of federal vaccine injury awards go to adults, not children, even thought the 1986 Act was established by Congress specifically to compensate children injured by federally recommended and state mandated vaccines.56

The Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice have gutted the VICP through rulemaking authority and fight to deny compensation for the majority of claims filed by parents on behalf of their vaccine-injured children, so fewer and fewer attorneys are filing for claims for children because the deck is stacked against them.57

Clearly, federal agencies responsible for developing, licensing, recommending and promoting vaccines do not want to acknowledge just how many children are being harmed by vaccines mandated by states for children to get a school education.

Here's another interesting tidbit. According to the HRSA report, based on the number of doses administered between 2006 and 2017 and the number of petitions that received compensation in that time, the HRSA calculates that "for every 1 million doses of vaccine that were distributed, one individual was compensated."

I find it curious that this is the exact same ratio given for vaccine injury. You've probably heard that vaccine injuries occur about once per 1 million doses.58 Could this be a coincidence? Or are they flat-out misrepresenting vaccine injury compensation as a vaccine injury probability statistic? The two are clearly not the same.

What Does the Science Say About the Potential for Vaccine Injury?

In the U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines by the time they're 18 years old, with 50 doses of 14 vaccines given before the age of 6.59 How does this affect their health?

A study60 published in 2017 reported a disturbing discovery. The researchers examined health outcomes among infants 3 to 5 months old following the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine in Guinea-Bissau, which took place in the early 1980s.

(In the U.S., the whole cell pertussis vaccine in DPT was replaced in 1996 with a less reactive acellular pertussis vaccine in DTaP). This population offered the rare opportunity to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children due to the way the vaccines were rolled out in the West African country.

Shockingly, researchers discovered "DTP was associated with fivefold higher mortality than being unvaccinated." According to the authors, "All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis."

In other words, the researchers concluded that DTP vaccine weakened the children's immune systems, rendering them vulnerable to a whole host of other often deadly diseases and serious health problems.

Other clinical trials in West Africa revealed that a high titer measles vaccine interacted with the DTP vaccine, resulting in a 33 percent increase in infant mortality.61 In this case, the finding led to the withdrawal of that experimental measles vaccine targeting very young infants, but what would have happened had those studies never been done? Clearly, we need many more like them.

Eye-Opening Statistics Reveal Dose-Dependent Relationship Between Vaccines and Injuries

In his book, "Miller's Review of Critical Vaccine Studies," Neil Z. Miller also provides eye-opening information about the potential for vaccine injury. He downloaded the entire vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) database and created a program to extract all reports involving infants. In all, the reports of 38,000 infants who experienced an adverse reaction following the receipt of one or more vaccines were extracted.

Another program was then created that was able to determine the number of vaccines each infant had received before suffering an adverse reaction. Next, reports were stratified by the number of vaccines (anywhere from one to eight) the infants had received simultaneously before the reaction took place. They specifically homed in on serious adverse reactions requiring hospitalization or that led to death. Here's what he found:

  • Infants who received three vaccines simultaneously were statistically and significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die after receiving their vaccines than children who received two vaccines at the same time
  • Infants who received four vaccines simultaneously were statistically and significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die than children who received three or two vaccines, and so on all the way up to eight vaccines
  • Children who received eight vaccines simultaneously were "off-the-charts" statistically in that they were significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die after receiving those vaccines
  • Children who received vaccines at an earlier age were significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die than children who receive those vaccines at a later age

Endgame: Forced Use of All Vaccines by All People

As noted by Fisher in "Taking No Prisoners in the Vaccine Culture War":62

"The win that industry is looking for is a complete shutdown of the public conversation about health and vaccination followed by a mandate by every government to force every child and adult to use every vaccine that drug companies develop and sell …

WHO is encouraging drug companies to fast track more than a dozen new "priority" vaccines to market for children, pregnant women and adults — and you can be sure industry will lobby governments to mandate all of them — respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Streptococcus A and B, HIV, herpes simplex virus, gonorrhea, E-coli, Shigella, Salmonella, tuberculosis, malaria and more.63

The pharmaceutical industry, which was handed a partial liability shield from vaccine injury lawsuits by the U.S. Congress in 1986,64 which was turned into a total liability shield by the Supreme Court in 2011,65,66,67 is fighting to keep an economic stranglehold on a crumbling U.S. health care system.68,69,70,71

With the government having paid vaccine victims more than $4 billion in federal vaccine injury compensation since 1988 under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act,72,73 pharmaceutical corporations do not want to give up the no-risk, stable income stream they get from selling mandated vaccines.74

'No exception' vaccine laws guarantee that good vaccine science will never be done so vaccine casualties can continue to be swept under the rug by denying they exist,75,76,77,78,79 and nobody has to care about the crippled and dead bodies lying on the ground except the mothers and fathers grieving endlessly for what could have been.80"

If you're like most, you probably know someone who has been injured by a vaccine, and the vaccine industry doesn't want you to share that experience with anyone, not even your closest friends or family on social media. People like Hotez claim the debate is over, yet in truth the debate has been going on for a long, long time and it is not going to stop no matter who tries to shut it down.

+ Sources and References