How the CDC Combats Health Freedom Through Front Groups

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked


Story at-a-glance

  • The CDC accepts funding from the drug industry, which may influence its public health recommendations. It also has front groups that lobby for mandatory vaccinations and seek to suppress information about vaccine risks
  • One of them is the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), which has lobbied heavily for the removal of vaccine exemptions for religious, conscientious and philosophical beliefs in state public health laws
  • 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
  • Prominent vaccine educators such as Every Child By Two (ECBT), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) are acting on behalf of the CDC and the vaccine industry as well. All three receive funding from vaccine manufacturers and the CDC
  • The CDC and vaccine advocacy nonprofits share a common goal of increasing vaccination rates, and by so doing, the CDC is unlikely to tackle the task of finding out whether the vaccines on the childhood and adult vaccination schedules are in fact safe and necessary


This is an older article that may not reflect Dr. Mercola’s current view on this topic. Use our search engine to find Dr. Mercola’s latest position on any health topic.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is supposed to be an independent organization watching out for public health, it has repeatedly demonstrated that it is working on behalf of the drug industry.

Not only does the CDC accept funding from the drug industry,1 which in and of itself may influence its public health recommendations, it also has front groups that lobby for mandatory vaccinations and seek to suppress information about vaccine risks. 

CDC Front Group Lobbies for Mandatory Vaccinations

One of them is the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO),2 an organization whose mission is “focused on being a leader, partner, catalyst and voice for change for local health departments around the nation.”

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.3 Seven of 11 funding priorities for NACCHO programs also come from the CDC.4 As revealed by, membership dues only amount to about 2% of the organization’s annual revenues.5

For example, in July 2011, NACCHO issued a policy statement urging legislators in all states to remove vaccine exemptions for religious, conscientious and philosophical beliefs.6

NACCHO also lobbied heavily for SB1327 in 2013, an Oregon state bill aimed at eliminating the religious belief vaccine exemption. In 2015, the group also lobbied in Oregon for SB442,8 which again sought to eliminate all but medical vaccine exemptions granted by a doctor. In fact, NACCHO was portrayed as a primary supporter of the bill.9

The organization has also put its weight behind eliminating personal belief vaccine exemptions in other states. NACCHO policies not only favor mandatory use of vaccines from cradle to grave, but also promote the creation of national electronic registries that monitor the vaccination status of all children and adults.

It’s worth noting that, in addition to the 69 doses of 16 vaccines on the federally recommended childhood vaccination schedule, the CDC recommends dozens of doses of vaccines for adults between the ages of 19 and 65, which includes an annual flu shot.

CDC Webinar Instructs Doctors on How to Boost Vaccine Uptake

In August 2019, NACCHO provided a CDC webinar10,11 in which doctors were given strategic guidance on how to combat “vaccine misinformation” and deal with vaccine hesitant patients in their practice.

The webinar was based on CDC research with parents and health care professionals, aimed at developing and refining educational messages about vaccines.

As just one example, the CDC found that one of the primary motivations that drive pregnant women to get vaccinated is “the idea of protecting their babies.” They also found that the internet is the primary source of vaccine information during pregnancy.

Parents of infants are primarily motivated by messages mentioning local occurrences of vaccine-preventable diseases, the risk of not vaccinating on schedule, and comparison of risks and benefits of vaccines. Messages that focus on the importance of vaccinating your child in order to avoid making others sick did not have a significant motivating impact, according to the CDC.

Based on the CDC’s findings, NACCHO urged doctors to “Make vaccination decisions before pregnancy, during pregnancy or before the 2-month visit,” as “once parents start vaccinating at 2 months, there is very little change later to delay or refuse” vaccination.

CDC Profits by Undermining Health Freedom

Seeing how NACCHO is primarily funded by the CDC, it seems the CDC is actively undermining vaccine exemptions and civil liberties, including freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief.

This isn’t entirely surprising considering the agency itself, as well as many of its individual employees and committee members, profit financially from mandatory vaccination policies and laws. As reported by Weltchek Mallahan & Weltchek, a Maryland-based law firm specializing in medical malpractice and wrongful death:12

“The CDC Immunization Safety Office is responsible for investigating the safety and effectiveness of all new vaccinations; once an investigation is considered complete, a recommendation is then made to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) who then determines whether the new vaccine will be added to the current vaccination schedule.

Members of the ACIP committee include physicians such as Dr. Paul Offit … Offit and other CDC members own numerous patents associated with vaccinations and regularly receive funding for their research work from the very same pharmaceutical companies who manufacturer vaccinations which are ultimately sold to the public ...

This situation creates an obvious conflict of interest, as members of the ACIP committee benefit financially every time a new vaccination is released to the market.”

CDC Buys HALF of All Vaccines in the US

In the June 2019 article,13 “Close Ties and Financial Entanglements: The CDC-Guaranteed Vaccine Market,” the organization Children’s Health Defense describes how the CDC is an integral part of the vaccine industry, protecting vaccine profits above public safety. As noted by Children’s Health Defense:

“The CDC is a major player in the vaccine marketplace, buying half of all childhood vaccines in the U.S. and then selling them to contracted public health agencies through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program, which pushes free and low-cost vaccines on indigent children.

Over the past three decades, the CDC’s vaccine purchases have increased 15-fold as the average cost of fully vaccinating a child to age 18 rose from $100 to $2192 — while vaccine companies have raked in the profits.

The agency’s involvement with vaccine manufacturers also extends to patents, licensing agreements and collaboration on projects to develop new vaccines. In fact, the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) profit handsomely from their ownership or co-ownership with private sector partners of vaccine-related patents.

An early 2017 analysis of Google Patents results showed that the CDC held 56 patents14 pertaining to various aspects of vaccine development, manufacturing, delivery and adjuvants.

By May 2019, the search terms ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccines’ retrieved 143 results15 in the Google Patents search engine, and a separate legal website displayed 10 screens worth of CDC patents,16 both vaccine- and non-vaccine-related.”

CDC Also Supports Prominent Vaccine Educators

Prominent medical trade and pro-mandatory vaccination organizations, such as Every Child By Two (ECBT), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), are acting on behalf of the CDC and the vaccine industry as well.

All three of these organizations, which claim to be independent, receive funding from both vaccine manufacturers and the CDC. (Incidentally, the IAC also provides funding to NACCHO.17)

As noted by Peter Doshi, associate editor of The BMJ, in his 2017 article18 “The Unofficial Vaccine Educators: Are CDC Funded Non-Profits Sufficiently Independent?” the ECBT, AAP and IAC “in their advocacy for compulsory vaccination … all have in common a goal that pushes beyond official governmental policy and, in the case of influenza vaccines, the evidence.” Doshi continues:

“Officially, the CDC is neutral on vaccine mandates … But the CDC gives money to non-profits that actively work in this void. Presumably, these activities are funded from non-CDC sources, as U.S. federal law prohibits the use of CDC award money for lobbying, a prohibition that ‘includes grassroots lobbying efforts by award recipients …’ according to CDC policy.”

The question is, is anyone actually ensuring CDC funds are not used for lobbying? Doshi also points out that the IAC’s use of scientific evidence is “questionable,” as they stand by their flu vaccination campaign for health care workers even though “multiple reviews have found insufficient evidence that mandatory influenza vaccination for health care workers has benefits for patients.”

“In broad terms, the CDC and nonprofits share a common goal of increasing vaccination rates,” Doshi writes. And since their primary goals include advocating for mandatory vaccination laws and elimination of vaccine exemptions, that really should not be, considering the CDC is also responsible for ensuring vaccine safety.19

By focusing on increasing vaccination rates, the agency is unlikely to properly tackle the task of finding out whether all of the vaccines on the childhood and adult vaccination schedules are, in fact, necessary, safe and effective, especially when given in combination.

Voices for Vaccines

Yet another front group for the vaccine industry — and the CDC — is Voices for Vaccinedies, 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. In reality, Voices for Vaccines is an “administrative project” of the Task Force for Global Health, the third largest charity in the U.S.,20 which has deep financial ties to the CDC and the pharmaceutical industry. Voices for Vaccines’ scientific advisory board includes:21,22

  • Merck vaccine developers and mandatory vaccination proponents Paul Offit and Stanley Plotkin.
  • Former CDC immunization director Dr. Alan Hinman, an Emory University professor and program director of the Center for Vaccine Equity at the Task Force for Global Health.
  • Vanderbilt professor and medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, William Schaffner. In 2018, Schaffner told CNN the influenza vaccine — which had a measly 36% effectiveness rate — was “not perfect,” but that we should “give the vaccine credit for softening the blow” anyway.
  • Deborah Wexler, director of the IAC, which is funded by pharmaceutical companies through the CDC Foundation.23

A former member with financial ties to the industry was Maurice R. Hilleman, a professor of vaccinology and the developer of Merck’s vaccine program. In an interview included in the 2007 film “In Lies We Trust: The CIA Hollywood and Bioterrorism,”24 Hilleman admitted Merck was responsible for unleashing the cancer-causing monkey virus SV40 via its polio vaccine. Hilleman died in 2005.

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 Offit.25

All of these connections, and others not included here, point to the existence of a vast, undisclosed yet well-documented pharma-driven network that uses every propaganda tactic in the book to squash freedom of thought and speech about vaccination — all in the name of protecting profits — and the CDC is a key player.

CDC Petitioned to Quit Making False Claims

While the CDC has long fostered the perception of independence through the use of disclaimers stating26 it does not accept funding from special interests, in reality, it accepts millions of dollars each year from commercial interests through its government-chartered foundation, the CDC Foundation, which funnels those contributions to the CDC after deducting a fee.27

Several watchdog groups — including the U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), Public Citizen, Knowledge Ecology International, Liberty Coalition and the Project on Government Oversight — are now petitioning28 the CDC to cease making these false disclaimers.29

According to the petition,30 the CDC accepted $79.6 million from drug companies and commercial manufacturers between 2014 and 2018 alone. As reported by the Lown Institute:31

“Many of these contributions could be seen as conflicts of interest — for example, a $193,000 donation from Roche, the maker of antiviral drug Tamiflu, to fund a CDC flu prevention campaign.

Despite the significant funding the CDC receives from industry via its foundation, few were aware of these conflicts until Jeanne Lenzer called attention to the foundation in The BMJ32 a few years ago.”

In a November 5, 2019, press release, Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group stated:33

“That the CDC accepts millions from corporations directly impacted by the agency’s public health programs is indefensible. So, the CDC instead has adopted the strategy of repeatedly denying that it accepts such payments.”

The petition asks the CDC to stop publishing the false and misleading disclaimers, remove all previously published disclaimers from the CDC website and its publications, and to issue corrections, retroactively disclosing the agency’s financial relationships with industry.

“By issuing these false disclaimers, CDC is misleading health professionals, consumers and others both in the United States and around the world,” the petition states.34

This deception undermines CDC’s credibility and integrity. But the damage here is not merely to the CDC itself. CDC is a national and global leader on medical and public health matters. It is crucial for the CDC to lead by example on matters of ethics, and, at a minimum, to faithfully and truthfully disclose its conflicts of interest.”

The CDC in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services portrays itself as a public health watchdog. It has tremendous credibility within the medical community, and part of this credibility hinges on the idea that it’s free of industry bias and conflicts of interest. Again and again, investigations have shown that funding plays an enormous role in decision-making and in research outcomes.

As noted by Shannon Brownlee, senior vice president for the Lown Institute, government-chartered foundations “exist at least in part because they allow industries to directly fund and thus control the work of agencies that are either supposed to regulate them, or conduct research that can help or hurt their business.”35

When it comes to vaccines, it’s quite clear that the CDC is anything but impartial. It owns vaccine-related patents and employs and defers to “experts” who have deep ties to vaccine makers. It funds pro-vaccine front groups that lobby for mandatory vaccinations, and it receives funds from vaccine makers.

Aside from the groups already mentioned, the CDC also funds state health programs aimed at implementing “no exceptions” mandatory vaccination policies and laws, including mandatory HPV vaccination programs.36

This, despite the fact the HPV vaccine is one of the most dangerous and unnecessary vaccines ever made. There’s also no evidence it actually helps prevent cervical cancer. As noted by Mark Blaxill, Age of Autism’s editor-at-large:37

“Gardasil is perhaps the leading example of a new form of unconstrained government self-dealing, in arrangements whereby [HHS] can transfer technology to pharmaceutical partners, [and] simultaneously both approve and protect their partners’ technology licenses while also taking a cut of the profits.”

Your Help Is Needed!

To help push for greater transparency, please contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services today at [email protected] and let them know that you demand the CDC:

  1. Cease publication of disclaimers that CDC has “no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products” and that it “does not accept commercial support.”
  2. Remove all such disclaimers from the CDC website, including the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
  3. Add corrections to all MMWR articles bearing these disclaimers, explaining that the disclaimers were incorrect and have been removed.
  4. Retroactively disclose, in any MMWR article bearing the disclaimers, any corporate contributions to the CDC or CDC Foundation that are relevant to the MMWR article.
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