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The CDC’s Influenza Math Doesn’t Add Up: Exaggerating the Death Toll to Sell Flu Shots

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The flu shot is irresponsibly marketed, unnecessary and in some cases dangerous. This perspective comes from many people and health professionals, yet it's a narrative that's constantly ignored.

  • Reflect On:

    Is a flu shot really necessary? Are our immune systems suffering from a lack of real immunity? Are vaccines doing more harm than good?

Every year at about this time, public health officials and their media megaphones start up the drumbeat to encourage everyone (including half-year-old infants, pregnant women and the invalid elderly) to get a flu shot. Never mind that more often than not the vaccines don’t work, and sometimes even increase the risk of getting sick.

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To buttress their alarmist message for 2018-2019, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies held a press conference and issued a press release on September 27, citing a particularly “record-breaking” (though unsubstantiated) 80,000 flu deaths last year. Having “medical experts and public health authorities publicly…state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes)” is part and parcel of the CDC’s documented playbook for “fostering public interest and high…demand” for flu shots. CDC’s media relations experts frankly admit that “framing” the current flu season as “more severe than last or past years” or more “deadly” is a highly effective strategy for garnering strong interest and attention from both the media and the public.

If accurate, 80,000 deaths would represent an enormous (and mystifying) one-year jump—tens of thousands more flu deaths compared to the already inflated numbers presented for 2016 (and every prior year).

Peter Doshi (associate editor at The BMJ and a MIT graduate) has criticized the CDC’s “aggressive” promotion of flu shots, noting that although the annual public health campaigns deliver a “who-in-their-right-mind-could-possibly-disagree message,” the “rhetoric of science” trotted out each year by public health officials has a “shaky scientific basis.” Viewed within the context of Doshi’s remarks, the CDC’s high-flying flu numbers for 2017-2018 raise a number of questions. If accurate, 80,000 deaths would represent an enormous (and mystifying) one-year jump—tens of thousands more flu deaths compared to the already inflated numbers presented for 2016 (and every prior year). Moreover, assuming a roughly six-month season for peak flu activity, the 80,000 figure would translate to an average of over 13,300 deaths per month—something that no newspaper last year came close to reporting.

The CDC’s statistics are impervious to independent verification because they remain, thus far, unpublished—despite the agency’s pledge on its website to base its public health pronouncements on high-quality data derived openly and objectively. Could the CDC’s disappointment with influenza vaccination coverage—which lags far behind the agency’s target of 80%—have anything to do with the opacity of the flu data being used to peddle the unpopular and ineffective vaccines?

Fudging facts

There are a variety of reasons to question the precision with which the CDC likes to imbue its flu statistics. First, although the CDC states that it conducts influenza mortality surveillance with its partner agencies, there is no actual requirement for U.S. states to report adult flu deaths to the CDC. (In public health parlance, adult influenza deaths are not “reportable” or “nationally notifiable.”) In fact, the only “flu-associated deaths” that the CDC requires states and other jurisdictions to report are deaths in children—180 last year.

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…when actual death certificates are tallied, influenza deaths on average are little more than 1,000 yearly.

How did the CDC reach its as-yet-unpublished conclusion—widely shared with the media—that 79,820 American adults in addition to 180 children died from the flu in 2017-2018? The agency states that it relies on death certificate data. However, members of the Cochrane research community have observed that “when actual death certificates are tallied, influenza deaths on average are little more than 1,000 yearly.”

Other knowledgeable individuals have also noted that the death records system in the U.S. is subjective, incomplete and politicized, and have suggested that citizens should adopt a “healthy skepticism about even the most accepted, mainstream, nationally reported CDC or other ‘scientific’ statistics.” This skepticism may be especially warranted for the influenza stats, which are so inextricably intertwined with the CDC’s vaccination agenda that the statistical techniquesand assumptions that the agency uses focus specifically on “project[ing] the burden of influenza that would have occurred in the absence of vaccination.”

skepticism may be especially warranted for the influenza stats, which are so inetricably intertwined with the CDC’s vaccination agenda.

Notwithstanding its incessant use of influenza statistics to justify its flu vaccine policies, the CDC tries to have it both ways, cautioning that because “influenza activity reporting…is voluntary,” influenza surveillance in the U.S. “cannot be used to ascertain how many people have become ill with influenza during the influenza season.” A larger problem is that the vital statistics that form the basis of the CDC’s surveillance data conflate deaths from pneumonia and influenza (P&I). The CDC concedes that this conflation complicates the challenge of specifically estimating flu deaths:

The system “tracks the proportion of death certificates processed that list pneumonia or influenza as the underlying or contributing cause of death. This system…does not provide an exact number of how many people died from flu” [emphasis added].

Curiously, the CDC presented its cause-of-death data slightly differently prior to 2015. Through 2014, the agency’s annual National Vital Statistics Reports included tables showing influenza deaths and pneumonia deaths as separate line items. Those reports made it abundantly clear that pneumonia deaths (at least as transmitted by death certificates) consistently and dramatically outstripped influenza deaths. The table below illustrates this pattern for 2012-2014.

Starting in 2015, the annual vital statistics reports began displaying P&I together and eliminated the distinct line items. At present, only one tool remains to examine mortality associated with influenza as distinct from pneumonia—the CDC’s interactive FluView dashboard—which provides weekly national breakdowns. The dashboard shows the same general pattern as in the annual reports—that is, lower numbers of influenza deaths and much higher numbers of pneumonia deaths. Bearing in mind all the shortcomings and potential biases of death certificate data, dashboard reports for the first week of March (week 9) for the past three years show 257 influenza deaths versus 4,250 pneumonia deaths in 2016, and 534 and 736 flu deaths (versus over 4,000 annual pneumonia deaths) in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

When clinicians in outpatient settings do order testing, relatively few of the “flu” specimens—sometimes as low as 1%—actually test positive for influenza.

Semantic shenanigans

Semantics also play a key role in the CDC’s slippery communications about “flu.” For example, CDC’s outpatient surveillance focuses on the broad category of “influenza-like illness” (ILI)—an almost meaningless term describing general symptoms (fever, cough and/or sore throat) that any number of non-influenza viruses are equally capable of triggering. Cochrane lists several problems with the reliance on ILI to make inferences about influenza:

  • There is “no reliable system to monitor and quantify the epidemiology and impact of ILI” and no way of knowing what proportion of ILI is caused by influenza.
  • There are almost no reliable data on the number of ILI-related physician contacts or hospitalizations—and no one knows what proportion of ILI doctor visits and hospitalizations are due to influenza.

“Pneumonia,” too, is a catch-all diagnosis covering lung infections caused by a variety of different agents: viruses (non-influenza as well as influenza), bacteriafungiair pollutants and many others. Interestingly, hospitalization is a common route of exposure to pneumonia-causing pathogens, and mortality from hospital-acquired pneumonia exceeds 60%. In a plausible scenario, an adult hospitalized for suspected (but unconfirmed) “flu” could acquire a lethal pneumonia bug in the hospital, and their death might be chalked up to “flu” regardless of the actual facts, particularly because clinicians do not necessarily order influenza testing. When clinicians in outpatient settings do order testing, relatively few of the “flu” specimens—sometimes as low as 1%—actually test positive for influenza. Over the past couple of decades, the proportion of specimens testing positive has averaged around 15%—meaning that about 85% of suspected “flu” specimens are not, in fact, influenza.

Roughly four-fifths of the vaccine injury and death cases settled through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program are flu-vaccine-related.

Propaganda with a purpose

It takes little subtlety to recognize that the principal reason for flu hyperbole is to sell more vaccines. However, more and more people—even infectious disease specialists—are realizing that flu shots are fraught with problems. Roughly four-fifths of the vaccine injury and death cases settled through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program are flu-vaccine-related. A University of Toronto-based expert recently stated, “We have kind of hyped this vaccine so much for so long we are starting to believe our own hype.”

Pro-flu-vaccination studies—through their skillful placement in prestigious journals—tend to drown out other influenza studies that should be ringing warning bells. Published peer-reviewed studies show that:

  • Previous influenza vaccination, particularly in those who get a flu shot every year, diminishes or “blunts” the already low effectiveness of flu shots.
  • Getting vaccinated against influenza increases susceptibility to other severe respiratory viruses and also to other strains of influenza.
  • Mothers who receive influenza vaccines during pregnancy face an increased risk of miscarriages and their offspring face elevated risks of birth defects and autism.

A systematic review of influenza vaccine trials by Cochrane in 2010 urges the utmost caution. Noting that “studies funded from public sources [have been] significantly less likely [than industry-funded studies] to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines,” and citing evidence of “widespread manipulation of conclusions,” the Cochrane reviewers’ bottom line is that “reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin.” We should all keep those words in mind the next time the CDC and the media try to mischaracterize flu facts and science.

CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured.  Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission. Please visit our crowdfunding page.

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Alternative News

Dogs Can Detect Lung Cancer With 97 Percent Accuracy

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Early detection provides the best opportunity for lung cancer survival; however, lung cancer is difficult to detect early because symptoms do not often appear until later stages. Dogs were able to help solve that issue.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do we use animals for experiments? Unless they are willing and have a loving home and are provided for, animals should never be used as lab rats or for scientific purposes. What makes us think we have the right to do that?

Animals are a precious gift to humanity, and we have so many lessons to learn from them. If you were an empathetic, benevolent alien looking down on planet Earth, no doubt you’d be heartbroken at and terrified of the way we treat animals. We slaughter them by the billions, destroy their homes, experiment on them, and worse. That being said, the ‘good’ side of humanity loves animals, and there are a lot of activist efforts out there that are speaking up for those who do not have a voice, not to mention the ever growing movement promoting a plant-based diet. We are making progress.

Another important point regarding animals is the fact that we know so little about them. We think we know, but the truth is we don’t know, and there is so much more to discover, especially with regards to certain abilities they may possess like clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, and other types of extra-sensory perception that human beings may have dormant within them as well.

I recently came across a study regarding three beagles successfully showing that they are capable of identifying lung cancer by scent, which is the first step in identifying specific biomarkers for the disease. The researchers hypothesized that their abilities may lead to the development of a new type of cancer screening method that is fairly inexpensive. Although we still need more research on the factors in our environment that are causing cancer in the first place, this is still great to see.

However, it’s only great if these animals are not being used solely for the purpose of study and are living happy and healthy lives because, as you may not know, beagles are the dogs most commonly used for scientific experiments, which are cruel and inhumane. At the end of the day, animals should not be used for such purposes. They are here as our companions, as part of our human family.

These dogs were able to tell the difference between blood serum samples that were taken from patients with malignant lung cancer and health controls with, as the study points out, 97 percent accuracy. The double blind study was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Thomas Quinn, the lead author of the study and professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, said, “We’re using the dogs to sort through the layers of scent until we identify the tell-tale biomarkers. There is still a great deal of work ahead, but we’re making good progress.”

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Again, I can’t help but wonder: Do these dogs have families? Are they being loved and cared for? Or are they simply being used for lab experiments? The thought of that is heartbreaking, and it makes me not even want to support or write about a study like this, but I couldn’t find any details about the lives of the dogs.

It sounds like they are simply ‘lab rats,’ given the description of the study, but again, we don’t know. They were led into a room with blood serum samples at nose level. Some samples came from patients with non-small cell lung cancer; others were drawn from healthy controls. After sniffing a sample, the dogs sat down to indicate a positive finding for cancer or moved on if none was detected.

“Samples from 10 donors (6 women and 4 men) were used in the testing phase. Their ages ranged from 26 to 80 years (mean, 58.2 years). The samples from female donors (mean age, 64 years) came from 3 black women, 2 white women, and 1 Hispanic woman. The samples from male donors (mean age, 49.5 years) came from 2 black men, 1 white man, and 1 man of mixed race. Canine No. 1 indicated a positive sample on 10 of the 10 cancer samples and 1 of the 40 control samples during his test runs. Canine No. 2 indicated a positive sample on 10 of the 10 cancer samples and 0 of the 40 control samples during her test runs. Canine No. 3 indicated a positive sample on 9 of the 10 cancer samples and 2 of the 40 control samples during her test runs. (From study).”

A Few Words About Cancer

I often become frustrated at the bombardment of “cancer awareness” advertisements, or when I see the Heart & Stroke Foundation serving processed meats at their fund raisers. In many cases, the companies raising money for cancer research are putting out products that are causing the problem in the first place. Why do we constantly raise money for cancer research and become so emotional and “patriotic” about ‘finding a cure’ and ‘fighting cancer’ without ever acknowledging the causes of cancer? Why do we see advertisements of cancer patients fighting cancer in order to entice us into donating? Why do people proudly fight cancer and go through conventional treatments without ever being aware of alternative, more successful and effective treatments? What is going on here?

When it comes to cancer awareness, all of us should really be tweeting and posting about environmental pesticides, electromagnetic radiation, processes foods and meat, unhealthy lifestyles, sugar, emotional baggage, trauma, stress, and several other factors that are clearly causing cancer.

Why is it that there are only a couple of accepted treatments for cancer that oncologists are legally able to recommend?

There are so many head-scratchers when it comes to cancer, and any cancer awareness efforts should be bombarded with ‘f**ck glyphosate,’ and things of that nature. That would be REAL cancer awareness.

The Takeaway

Animals are not to be used as experiments, but I wanted to present this info simply because, as I mentioned earlier, there are so many amazing, good, positive things about them. Their abilities go far beyond what we know, and when it comes to dogs in particular, they are nothing but of service to others. If you have a dog, you know what I am talking about, and in many cases they already know things about you and your biology that you may not be aware of, unless you are really in tune with them.

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In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Awareness

Real Salt, Celtic Salt and Himalayan Salt

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was originally written by Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P) (acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine) and published at Greenmedinfo.com. Posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you know the difference between refined salt and unrefined salt?

This is what real salt looks like—we all know what regular white salt looks like—and we mistakenly think it is real salt when it is not. The fact is that refined white salt, such as commercial table salt is bad, very bad stuff. Unrefined natural salt on the other hand is good, very good stuff providing many health benefits.

Unrefined sea salt is healthy. The blood-pressure-raising effect of table salt can be due to its high content of sodium with not enough magnesium to balance it. This has a magnesium-lowering effect that can constrict the arteries and raise blood pressure. Real salt (of various kinds) contains plenty of magnesium and other important minerals, which is why it usually does not affect blood pressure in a negative way.[1]

Sodium is an essential nutrient required by the body for maintaining levels of fluids and for providing channels for nerve signaling. Some sodium is needed in your body to regulate fluids and blood pressure, and to keep muscles and nerves running smoothly.

Without appropriate amounts of sodium, your body may have a difficult time cooling down after intense exercise or activity. When the body is hot, you sweat. If you do not have enough sodium, your body may not sweat as much and you may then become overheated. This could result in a stroke or exhaustion as well as dehydration.

Sodium is an energy carrier. It is also responsible for sending messages from the brain to muscles through the nervous system so that muscles move on command. When you want to move your arm or contract any muscle in your body, your brain sends a message to a sodium molecule that passes it to a potassium molecule and then back to a sodium molecule etc., etc., until it gets to its final destination and the muscle contracts. This is known as the sodium-potassium ion exchange. Therefore, without sodium, you would never be able to move any part of your body.

Excess sodium (such as that obtained from dietary sources) is excreted in the urine.[2]Most of the sodium in the body (about 85%) is found in blood and lymph fluid. Sodium levels in the body are partly controlled by a hormone called aldosterone, which is made by the adrenal glands. Aldosterone levels determine whether the kidneys hold sodium in the body or pass it into the urine.

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Dr. David Brownstein weighs in heavily on this matter saying, “Nobody makes a distinction between unrefined and refined salt. They ‘lump’ all salt together as a bad substance. This is a terrible mistake. There are two forms of salt available in the market place: refined and unrefined. Refined salt has had its minerals removed and has been bleached to give it the white appearance that we are accustomed to seeing with salt. It is the fine, white salt that is available at almost any restaurant or grocery store. Refined salt has been bleached and exposed to many toxic chemicals in order to get it to its final product. It has aluminum, ferrocyanide, and bleach in it. I believe this refining process has made it a toxic, devitalized substance that needs to be avoided.”

Link to book: http://www.drbrownstein.com/Salt-Your-Way-to-Health-p/salt.htm

“Unrefined salt, on the other hand,” Brownstein continues, “has not been put through a harsh chemical process. It contains the natural minerals that were originally part of the product. Its mineral content gives it a distinct color. The colors of unrefined salt can vary depending on where it is taken from. This is due to the changing mineral content of the various brands of salt. It is the minerals in unrefined salt that provide all the benefits of this product. The minerals supply the body with over 80 trace elements needed to maintain and sustain health.

Furthermore, the minerals elevate the pH (correct acidity) and lower blood pressure. Our maker gave us salt to use in our diet—unrefined salt—with its full complement of minerals. It should be the salt of choice. It is a vital ingredient that needs to be part of everyone’s diet.”

Dr. Brownstein says, “Years ago salt manufacturers decided that pure white salt is prettier than off-white salt and that consumers prefer pretty white salt. So they started bleaching it. They also added anti-clumping agents to increase its shelf life. The problem is that the chemicals added to keep salt from absorbing moisture on the shelf interfere with one of salt’s main functions: to regulate hydration in your body. The sodium chloride in table salt is highly concentrated, denatured, and toxic to your body. Ever put salt on an open cut? It burns!!!

Refined salt has the same effect on internal tissues and causes a negative reaction: your body retains water to protect itself, and your cells release water to help dilute, neutralize, and break down the salt. This loss of water dehydrates and weakens your cells and can even cause them to die prematurely. Natural sea salt is far superior to chemically-treated iodized table salts as it contains all 92 trace minerals, and it’s only 84% sodium chloride while table salt is almost 98%”.

All this adds up to one thing. Table salt, whether marine or not, is toxic—it’s poisonous to the body and is responsible, in great part, to the onset of many terrible diseases including thyroid and metabolic dysfunction.

In addition to sodium and chloride, Celtic Sea Salt® provides other nutrients that naturally occur in salt beds, including trace amounts of calcium, magnesium potassium, iron and zinc.

In accordance with standards set by The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, independent analysis indicates that levels of heavy metals are non-detectable (e.g. arsenic, cadmium, mercury) or well below published safe limits in Celtic Sea Salt®. Perhaps most importantly, Celtic Sea Salt® is not exposed to refinement and bleaching used to manufacture typical table salt and there are no additives. Celtic Sea Salt® is harvested from the ocean using the sun, the wind and shallow clay ionizing ponds, a method passed down through the generations.

Many Americans over consume refined salt by eating processed foods, fast foods and canned foods with salt added. Celtic Sea Salt® is a good alternative as part of a healthier diet. Recommended use is a half teaspoon per day.

Himalayan crystal salt that is mined 5,000 feet deep below the Himalayan mountain range was subject to enormous pressure over millions of years and is over 99% pure. The higher the amount of pressure the more superior or excellent the state of order within the crystalline structure of salt. Many Himalayan salts are sold cheaply but are collected from higher up near the tops of the Himalayan Mountains instead of from the deeper mines. These salts contain more impurities, do not have the same structure and are not as easily assimilated by the body.

Himalayan salt contains 84 minerals and trace elements in ionic state and is a delightful pink color. People often state that they use less of this salt than of other types. Many sizes are available from 3 oz in a salt grinder to larger 1-kg bags (2.2 lb). Salt chunks are also available for making your own “sole,” which is a saturated solution of purified water with Himalayan salt. A specific recipe (see below) must be followed to make sole and results in a solution that has much less sodium than just adding salt to water would have. Daily use of sole is believed to stimulate the peristalsis of the digestive organs, balance the stomach acid, support the production of digestive fluids in the liver and pancreas, regulate the metabolism and harmonize the acid-alkaline balance.

Start Each Day with a Healthy Sole

The ideal way to use Himalayan Crystal Salt is in the form of a sole (so-LAY). Drinking the sole when you awake each morning is like getting up on the right side of the bed. It provides the energizing minerals you need daily to recharge your body, and it helps set the stage for a day of vitality.

Essentially, a sole is water saturated with Himalayan Crystal Salt. The sole contains about approximately 26 parts of salt to 100 parts of water. Prepare the water and salt combination in advance (see directions to the right). Each morning place a teaspoon of the sole mixture in a glass and fill with 8 ounces of pure spring water. Drink it immediately or sip it while getting dressed, checking emails or preparing breakfast. The water helps transport the electrolytes throughout the body to all the many places they are needed.

How to Prepare Sole

Sole is a mixture of water and salt. The object is to saturate the water with dissolved salt so it can’t hold anymore. You’ll know that you’ve created sole when there are undissolved salt crystals in the water. You can’t oversaturate the water with salt. The crystals will simply drop to the bottom of the container.

Place several Himalayan Crystal Salt stones or Himalayan Crystal Salt granules about an inch deep in a glass container. (A canning jar works well.)

Cover the salt with two to three inches of pure, spring water. Let the salt dissolve for 24 hours.

If all the salt dissolves in 24 hours, add more salt to the container. The sole is finished when the water can no longer dissolve the salt and the salt crystals drop to the bottom of the container. There will always be salt crystals in the jar. It doesn’t matter if you have only a few crystals or many. The water is saturated and is now sole.

Cover the container to prevent the water from evaporating. Since salt is a natural preservative, the sole will keep forever. It can’t spoil or go “bad.”

The vibrational energy of the Himalayan Crystal Salt remains in your body for 24 hours.

A teaspoon of sole contains 480 mg of sodium, or 20% of the Daily Reference Value of 2400 mg based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

Redmond Real Salt is mined in the United States and is another good unrefined salt that I also recommend. It can be used as a table salt and for cooking and is available in coarse and fine grinds and in a variety of sizes.

Real Salt comes from a mineral rich salt deposit formed by an ancient sea in Utah. It contains 62 trace minerals, and is without additives, chemicals, or heat processing of any kind. Real Salt’s unique pinkish appearance and flecks of color come from the more than 60 naturally occurring trace minerals. The result is a delicate “sweet salt” flavor that you may not have experienced before.

Special Note: I was very disappointed to hear Dr. Max Gerson’s daughter Charlotte Gerson saying, “That sodium is never good, never in any form!” I have put Gerson in the best light in my writings and his organization does hold the high ground for organic raw juicing but there are some things they say that have no grounding in medical science or clinical reality. Talk to Dr. David Brownstein and he will tell you that often the first thing a patient needs is water and salt but its real salt not table salt he is talking about and prescribing for his patients.

I have written a full essay addressing this communication from Charlotte. And I have another essay on using seawater as a medicine and that will be seen in my Treatment Essentials book that is now finished and ready for publication on the 15th of February. To even think of discounting the medical miracles from the sea, which Charlotte is clearly doing, makes me shudder.


Resources

  • [2] These processes in the body, especially in the brain, nervous system, and muscles, require electrical signals for communication. The movement of sodium is critical in the generation of these electrical signals. Too much or too little sodium therefore can cause cells to malfunction, and extremes in the blood sodium levels (too much or too little) can be fatal – http://www.medicinenet.com/electrolytes/article.htm

For more info from Greenmedinfo, sign up for their newsletter, here.

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AMA Says Mature 12-Year-Olds Can Consent to Vaccination Without Parents

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At the recently concluded annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) in Chicago, AMA delegates adopted a doozy of a new policy. The powerful trade group agreed to develop model legislation that pressures state legislatures into allowing minors to “override refusenik parents on vaccination.”

In 2000, the Supreme Court reasserted the fundamental right of parents to oversee the care, custody and control of their children, a right recognized by states until children reach age 18. Where vaccines are concerned, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act—passed in 1986—legally requires health care providers to distribute vaccine information materials to the parent or legal guardian of any child to whom the provider intends to administer a vaccine “prior to the administration of such vaccine” [emphasis added].

Does it trouble the AMA that its pronouncement goes against legal precedent as well as social custom? Apparently unconcerned about “chipping away at parental rights,” AMA representatives are gung-ho about the organization’s new policy position. Not only do they want minors as young as 12 to be able to consent to vaccination regardless of their parents’ “flawed beliefs”—while still expecting parents to pay for the vaccines—they also believe that doctors should be the ones declaring a child “mature enough” to consent to vaccination. A question that anyone familiar with the AMA’s history should be asking is, why would we trust the AMA to make such vital decisions in parents’ stead?

… one-fourth of the AMA’s total revenues were CPT-related [the medical services coding system]—representing double what the organization received from membership dues. This gigantic conflict of interest, according to the Forbeseditorialist, makes the AMA more a tool of Washington’s interests than those of doctors.

Outsized influence

The AMA’s membership has been plummeting in recent decades. A 2011 analysis of its membership “woes” estimated that the Association captures just 15% of practicing doctors, down from 75% in the early 1950s. The AMA’s membership challenges do not mean that the organization lacks clout, however. In fact, the AMA has a variety of potent tools at its disposal to ensure that it “remain[s] relevant at the national level.” These include a political action committee and a vast lobbying war chest (with upwards of $20 million spent in 2018), all of which translates into outsized influence over both health care policy and public perceptions.

A 2016 report on Capitol Hill lobbyists rated the AMA one of the top “movers and shakers” in Washington, ranking among the “select few [that] have shown an ability to get things done.” A former AMA president modestly admitted as much, stating that “What the AMA does, and does best, is in the advocacy arena.” An analysis of the top 20 health care lobbyists found that the AMA ranked the highest in terms of “all-time spending” and ranked number five in spending “among all lobbyists, regardless of industry.”

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The lobbying firms that the AMA hires are often the same as those used by the pharmaceutical industry. The AMA Foundation’s roster of high-level Corporate Roundtable members consists almost entirely of pharmaceutical industry members—including the four companies that manufacture all childhood vaccines in the U.S. (Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi). Drug company advertising also dominates the pages of the AMA’s flagship journal JAMA, even though many are “the very same drugs that are…killing tens of thousands of Americans each year, according to senior drug safety researchers at the FDA.” Nor does the AMA hesitate to provide a “seal of approval” for products and drugs—earning sizeable advertising fees—“despite the fact that the organization has no capacity to test such drugs.”

In 2011, Forbes pointed out that the AMA reaps huge financial rewards through its Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) medical services coding system, used by health care providers, payers, and facilities across the U.S. Given the CPT system’s importance to large public programs such as Medicare, the system essentially amounts to a “government-granted monopoly” and AMA “windfall.” In 2010, one-fourth of the AMA’s total revenues were CPT-related—representing double what the organization received from membership dues. This “gigantic conflict of interest,” according to the Forbes editorialist, makes the AMA “more a tool of Washington’s interests than those of doctors.”

The AMA also has a sordid history of racketeering. Economist Milton Friedman wrote some years ago of the AMA’s concerted attacks on chiropractors and osteopathic physicians, and in a 1987 antitrust lawsuit brought by chiropractors, the judge agreed that the AMA had conspired “to contain and eliminate a profession that was licensed in all fifty states.” The judge also decried the Association’s “long history of illegal behavior.” In the early 2000s, the courts again found the AMA (along with managed care companies) guilty of racketeering through manipulation of the AMA’s coding software.

Did the zealous school nurse who recently administered a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to an 11-year-old boy without parental consent—while telling the mother that all he got was an ice pack—follow “legal, ethical, and professional guidelines”?

Undermining parents

Efforts to circumvent parents’ involvement in their children’s health care have been underway for quite some time, notably in the reproductive health arena. For services related to contraception and sexually transmitted infections, health providers are only too happy to shout down parental objections, arguing that young people’s need for confidential medical services is “more important” than parents’ right to be informed of their child’s condition.

Now, researchers are laying down the train tracks to make the same case for vaccines. In 2014, top-tier adolescent health experts described parental consent as a “barrier to vaccination” and called for “strategies that increase the ability of unaccompanied minors…to receive vaccines within the context of legal, ethical, and professional guidelines.” Did the zealous school nurse who recently administered a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to an 11-year-old boy without parental consent—while telling the mother that all he got was an ice pack—follow “legal, ethical, and professional guidelines”?

AMA critics argue that the organization has spearheaded a push for a “totalitarian medical pharmaceutical police state” almost since its inception in the mid-1850s. While such rhetoric is strong, it seems clear that on vaccine issues, the AMA is only too willing to stake out a draconian policy position. After the AMA announced its intent to ignore parents’ wishes, one conservative writer underscored the contradictions: “So while individuals need to be 21 years old before they are allowed to drink, and 18 years old before they are allowed to purchase cigarettes and elect a president, children at any age can make a decision to partake in vaccinations, regardless of the associated risks, of which there are enough to warrant the need for a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.” Legislators tempted to jump on the AMA’s bandwagon might want to think twice before throwing parental rights under the bus in such a cavalier manner.

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

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