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How the CDC Uses Fear to Increase Demand for Flu Vaccines

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The CDC continues to use fear of hospitalization & death to increase demand for flu vaccines. Their "Recipe" calls for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm.”

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot necessary? It's becoming hard to trust health professionals regarding this, especially given the fact their knowledge on vaccines isn't up to par. Independent research might be more effective. It's OK to question vaccines.

The CDC claims that its recommendation that everyone aged six months and up should get an annual flu shot is firmly grounded in science. The mainstream media reinforce this characterization by misinforming the public about what the science says.

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New York Times article from earlier this year, for example, in order to persuade readers to follow the CDC’s recommendation, cited scientific literature reviews of the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration to support its characterization of the influenza vaccine as both effective and safe. The Times claimed that the science showed that the vaccine represented “a big payoff in public health” and that harms from the vaccine were “almost nonexistent”.

What the Cochrane researchers actually concluded, however, was that their findings “seem to discourage the utilization of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure” (emphasis added). Furthermore, given the known serious harms associated with specific flu vaccines and the CDC’s recommendation that infants as young as six months get a flu shot despite an alarming lack of safety studies for children under two, “large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”

The CDC also recommends the vaccine for pregnant women despite the total absence of randomized controlled trials assessing the safety of this practice for both expectant mother and unborn child. (This is all the more concerning given that multi-dose vials of the inactivated influenza vaccine contain mercury, a known neurotoxin that can cross both the placental and blood-brain barriers and accumulate in the brain.)

The Cochrane researchers also found “no evidence” to support the CDC’s assumptions that the vaccine reduces transmission of the virus or the risk of potentially deadly complications—the two primary justifications claimed by the CDC to support its recommendation.

The CDC nevertheless pushes the influenza vaccine by claiming that it prevents large numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from flu. To reinforce its message that everyone should get an annual flu shot, the CDC claims that hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands die each year from influenza. These numbers are generally relayed by the mainstream media as though representative of known cases of flu. The aforementioned New York Times article, for example, stated matter-of-factly that, of the 9 million to 36 million people whom the CDC estimates get the flu each year, “Somewhere between 140,000 and 710,000 of them require hospitalization, and 12,000 to 56,000 die each year.”

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…the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1000.

On September 27, the CDC issued the claim at a press conference that 80,000 people died from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 flu season, and the media parroted this number as though fact.

What is not being communicated to the public is that the CDC’s numbers do not represent known cases of influenza. They do not come directly from surveillance data, but are rather controversial estimates based on controversial mathematical models that may greatly overestimate the numbers.

To put the matter into perspective, the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1,000.

The consequence of the media parroting the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial is that the public is routinely misinformed about the impact of influenza on society and the ostensible benefits of the vaccine. Evidently, that’s just the way the CDC wants it, since the agency has also outlined a public relations strategy of using fear marketing to increase demand for flu shots.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues.

The CDC’s “Problem” of “Growing Health Literacy”

Before looking at some of the problems with the CDC’s estimates, it’s useful to examine the mindset at the agency with respect to how CDC officials view their role in society. An instructive snapshot of this mindset was provided in a presentation by the CDC’s director of media relations on June 17, 2004, at a workshop for the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

In its presentation, the CDC outlined a “‘Recipe’ for Fostering Public Interest and High Vaccine Demand”. It called for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm” about “and predict dire outcomes” from the flu season. To inspire the necessary fear, the CDC encouraged describing each season as “very severe”, “more severe than last or past years”, and “deadly”.

One problem for the CDC is the accurate view among healthy adults that they are not at high risk of serious complications from the flu. As the presentation noted, “achieving consensus by ‘fiat’ is difficult”—meaning that just because the CDC makes the recommendation doesn’t mean that people will actually follow it. Therefore it was necessary to cause “concern, anxiety, and worry” among young, healthy adults who regard the flu as an inconvenience rather than something to be terribly afraid of.

The larger conundrum for the CDC is the proliferation of information available to the public on the internet. As the CDC bluntly stated it, “Health literacy is a growing problem”.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues. And, as we have already seen, the CDC has very good reason to be concerned about people doing their own research into what the science actually tells us about vaccines.

One prominent way the CDC inspires the necessary fear, of course, is with its estimates of the numbers of people who are hospitalized or die each year from the flu.

…many if not most people diagnosed with ‘the flu’ may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The Problems with the CDC’s Estimates of Annual Flu Deaths

Among the relevant facts that are routinely not relayed to the public by the media when the CDC’s numbers are cited is that only about 7% to 15% of what are called “influenza-like illnesses” are actually caused by influenza viruses. In fact, there are over 200 known viruses that cause influenza-like illnesses, and to determine whether an illness was actually caused by the influenza virus requires laboratory testing—which isn’t usually done.

Furthermore, as the authors of a 2010 Cochrane review stated, “At best, vaccines may only be effective against influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses” that are known to cause influenza-like symptoms. (That’s the same review, by the way, that the Times mischaracterized as having found the vaccine to be “a big payoff in public health”.)

While the CDC now uses a range of numbers to describe annual deaths attributed to influenza, it used to claim that on average “about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza”. The CDC switched to using a range in response to criticism that the average was misleading because there is great variability from year to year and decade to decade. And while switching to the range did address that criticism, other serious problems remain.

One major problem with “the much publicized figure of 36,000”, as Peter Doshi observed in a 2005 BMJ article, was that it “is not an estimate of yearly flu deaths, as widely reported in both the lay and scientific press, but an estimate—generated by a model—of flu-associated death.”

Of course, as the media routinely remind us when it comes to the subject of vaccines and autism (but seem to forget when it comes to the CDC’s flu numbers), temporal association does not necessarily mean causation. Just because someone dies after an influenza infection does not mean that it was the flu that killed him. And, furthermore, many if not most people diagnosed with “the flu” may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The “36,000” number came from a 2003 CDC study published in JAMA that acknowledged the difficulty of estimating deaths attributable to influenza, given that most cases are not lab-confirmed. Yet, rather than acknowledging the likelihood that a substantial percentage of reported cases actually had nothing to do with the influenza virus, the CDC researchers treated it as though it only meant that flu-related deaths must be significantly higher than the reported numbers.

The study authors pointed out that seasonal influenza is “associated with increased hospitalizations and mortality for many diagnoses”, including pneumonia, and they assumed that many cases attributed to other illnesses were actually caused by influenza. They therefore developed a mathematical model to estimate the number by instead using as their starting point all “respiratory and circulatory” deaths, which include all “pneumonia and influenza” deaths.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?”

Of course, not all respiratory and circulatory deaths are caused by the influenza virus. Yet the CDC treats this number as “an upper bound”—as though it was possible that 100% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths occurring in a given flu season were caused by influenza. The CDC also treats the total number of pneumonia and influenza deaths as “a lower bound for deaths associated with influenza”. The CDC states on its website that reported pneumonia and influenza deaths “represent only a fraction of the total number of deaths from influenza”—as though all pneumonia deaths were caused by influenza!

The CDC certainly knows better. In fact, at the same time, the CDC contradictorily acknowledges that not all pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related; it has estimatedthat in an average year 2.1% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths and 8.5% of all pneumonia and influenza deaths are influenza-associated.

So how can the CDC maintain both (a) that 8.5% of pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related, and (b) that the combined total of all pneumonia and influenza deaths represents only a fraction of flu-caused deaths? How can both be true?

The answer is that the CDC simply assumes that influenza-associated deaths are so greatly underreported within the broader category of deaths coded under “respiratory and circulatory” that they dwarf all those coded under “pneumonia and influenza”.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?” As he put it, “US data on influenza deaths are a mess.” The CDC “acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the terms interchangeably. Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems is a marketing of fear—a CDC communications strategy in which medical experts ‘predict dire outcomes’ during flu seasons.”

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

Illustrating the problem, Doshi observed that for the year 2001, the total number of reported pneumonia and influenza deaths was 62,034. Yet, of those, less than one half of one percent were attributed to influenza. Furthermore, of the mere 257 cases blamed on the flu, only 7% were laboratory confirmed. That’s only 18 cases of lab confirmed influenza out of 62,034 pneumonia and influenza deaths—or just 0.03%, according to the CDC’s own National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

The CDC’s mortality estimates would be compatible with the NCHS data, Doshi argued, “if about half of the deaths classed by the NCHS as pneumonia were actually flu initiated secondary pneumonias.” But the NCHS criteria itself strongly indicated otherwise, stating that “Cause-of-death statistics are based solely on the underlying cause of death … defined by WHO as ‘the disease or injury which initiated the train of events leading directly to death.’”

The CDC researchers who authored the 2003 study acknowledged that underlying cause-of-death coding “represents the disease or injury that initiated the chain of morbid events that led directly to the death”—yet they fallaciously coupled pneumonia deaths with influenza deaths in their model anyway.

At the time Doshi was writing, the CDC was publicly claiming that each year “about 36,000 [Americans] die from flu”, and as seen with the example from the New York Times, the range of numbers is likewise presented as though representative of known cases of flu-caused deaths. Yet the lead author of that very CDC study, William Thompson of the CDC’s National Immunization Program, acknowledged that the number rather represented “a statistical association” that does not necessarily mean causation. In Thompson’s own words, “Based on modelling, we think it’s associated. I don’t know that we would say that it’s the underlying cause of death.” (Emphasis added.)

Of course, the CDC does say it’s the underlying cause of death in its disingenuous public relations messaging. As Doshi noted, Thompson’s acknowledgment is “incompatible” with the CDC’s “misrepresentation” of its flu deaths estimates. The CDC, Doshi further observed, was “working in manufacturers’ interest by conducting campaigns to increase flu vaccination” based on estimates that are “statistically biased”, including by “arbitrarily linking flu with pneumonia”.

…there are otherwise significant limitations of the CDC’s models that potentially result in spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.

More “Limitations” of the CDC’s Models

While the media present the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial, there is in fact “substantial controversy” surrounding flu death estimates, as a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology noted. One problem is that the CDC’s models use virus surveillance data that “have not been made available in the public domain”, which means that its results or not reproducible. (As the journal Cell reminds, “the reproducibility of science” is “a lynch pin of credibility”.) And there are otherwise “significant limitations” of the CDC’s models that potentially result in “spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.”

To illustrate, when Peter Doshi requested access to virus circulation data, the CDC refused to allow it unless he granted the CDC co-authorship of the study he was undertaking—which Doshi appropriately refused.

While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more.

In the New York Review of Books, Helen Epstein has pointed out how the CDC’s dire warnings about the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” never came to pass, as well as how “some experts maintain that the CDC’s estimates studies overestimate influenza mortality, particularly among children.” While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more. To arrive at its number, the CDC used a multiplier based on certain assumptions. One assumption is that some cases are missed either because lab confirmation wasn’t sought or because the children weren’t in a hospital when they died and so weren’t tested. Another is that a certain percentage of test results will be false negatives.

However, Epstein pointed out, “according to CDC guidelines at the time”, any child hospitalized with severe influenza symptoms should have been tested for H1N1. Furthermore, “deaths in children from infectious diseases are rare in the US, and even those who didn’t die in hospitals would almost certainly have been autopsied (and tested for H1N1)…. Also, the test is accurate and would have missed few cases. Because it’s unlikely that large numbers of actual cases of US child deaths from H1N1 were missed, the lab-confirmed count (371) is probably much closer to the modeled numbers … which are in any case impossible to verify.”

As already indicated, another assumption the CDC makes is that excess mortality in winter is mostly attributable to influenza. A 2009 Slate article described this as among a number of “potential glitches” that make the CDC’s reported flu deaths the “‘least bad’ estimate”. Referring to earlier methods that associated flu deaths with wintertime deaths from all causes, the article observed that this risked blaming influenza for deaths from car accidents caused by icy roads. And while the updated method presented in the 2003 CDC study excluded such causes of death implausibly linked to flu, related problems remain.

As the aforementioned American Journal of Epidemiology study noted, the updated method “reduces, but does not eliminate, the potential for spurious correlation and spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.” Furthermore, “Methods based on seasonal pattern begin from the assumption that influenza is the major source of excess winter death.” The CDC’s models therefore still “are in danger of being confounded by other seasonal factors.” The authors also stated that they could not conclude from their own study “that influenza is a more important cause of winter mortality on an annual timescale than is cold weather.”

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

As a 2002 BMJ study stated, “Cold weather alone causes striking short term increases in mortality, mainly from thrombotic and respiratory disease. Non-thermal seasonal factors such as diet may also affect mortality.” (Emphasis added.) The study estimated that of annual excess winter deaths, only “2.4% were due to influenza either directly or indirectly.” It concluded that, “With influenza causing such a small proportion of excess winter deaths, measures to reduce cold stress offer the greatest opportunities to reduce current levels of winter mortality.”

CDC researchers themselves acknowledge that their models are “subject to some limitations.” In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, CDC researchers admitted that “simply counting deaths for which influenza has been coded as the underlying cause on death certificates can lead to both over- and underestimates of the magnitude of influenza-associated mortality.” (Emphasis added.) Yet they offered no comment on how, then, their models account for the likelihood that many reported cases of “flu” had nothing whatsoever to do with the influenza virus. Evidently, this is because they don’t, as indicated by the CDC’s treatment of all influenza deaths plus pneumonia deaths as a “lower bound”.

For another illustration, since it takes two or three years before the data is available to be able to estimate flu hospitalizations and deaths by the usual means, the CDC has also developed a method to make preliminary estimates for a given year by “adjusting” the numbers of reported lab-confirmed cases from selected surveillance areas around the country. The “80,000” figure claimed for last season’s flu deaths is just such an estimate. The way the CDC “adjusts” the numbers is by multiplying the number of lab-confirmed cases by a certain amount, ostensibly “to correct for underreporting”. To determine the multiplier, the CDC makes a number of assumptions to estimate (a) the likelihood that a person hospitalized for any respiratory illnesswould be tested for influenza and (b) the likelihood that a person with influenza would test positive.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

One obvious problem with this is the underlying assumption that the percentage of people who (a) are hospitalized for respiratory illness and have the flu is the same as (b) the percentage of those who are hospitalized for respiratory illness, are actually tested, and test positive. This implies that doctors are not more likely to seek lab confirmation for people who actually have influenza than they are for people whose respiratory symptoms are due to some other cause.

Assuming that doctors can do better than a pair of rolled dice at picking out patients with influenza, it further implies that doctors are no more likely to order a lab test for patients whom they suspect of having the flu than they are to order a lab test for patients whose respiratory symptoms they think are caused by something else.

The CDC’s assumption thus introduces a selection bias into its model that further calls into question the plausibility of its conclusions, as it is bound to result in overestimation. In a 2015 study published in PLoS One that detailed this method, CDC researchers acknowledged that, “If physicians were more likely to recognize influenza patients clinically and select those patients for testing, we may have over-estimated the magnitude of under-detection.” And that, of course, would result in an overestimation of both hospitalizations and deaths associated with influenza.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Conclusion

In summary, to avoid underestimating influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths, the CDC relies on models that instead appear to greatly overestimate the numbers due to the fallacious assumptions built into them. These numbers are then mispresented to the public by both public health officials and the mainstream media as though uncontroversial and representative of known cases of influenza-caused illnesses and deaths from surveillance data. Consequently, the public is grossly misinformed about the societal disease burden from influenza and the ostensible benefit of the vaccine.

It is clear that the CDC does not see its mission as being to educate the public in order to be able to make an informed choice about vaccination. After all, that would be incompatible with its view that growing health literacy is a threat to its mission and an obstacle to be overcome. On the other hand, misinformed populace aligns perfectly with the CDC’s stated goal of using fear marketing to generate more demand for the pharmaceutical industry’s influenza vaccine products.

This article is an adapted and expanded excerpt from part two of the author’s multi-part exposé on the influenza vaccine. Sign up for Jeremy’s newsletter to stay updated with his work on vaccines and receive his free downloadable report, “5 Horrifying Facts about the FDA Vaccine Approval Process”.

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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Awareness

Vaccine Mandates Results Don’t Safeguard Children’s Rights or Health: How Did We Get Here?

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For decades, the U.S. government has made compulsory childhood vaccination one of the cornerstones of its public health policy. Outside the U.S., countries’ vaccination policies range from completely voluntary to “aggressive,” with some nations promoting vaccination but leaving the decision up to the individual, and others pushing a little harder by financially incentivizing vaccination. Some of the countries with mandatory vaccination have “modest” policies that focus on a single vaccine such as polio, and some—with broader mandates on the books—choose not to enforce them.

Regardless of the policy, no other country requires as many childhood vaccines as the U.S., but the legal edifice shoring up the compulsory childhood vaccine program is surprisingly flimsy. As New York University legal scholar Mary Holland explains in a 2010 working paper, this edifice relies primarily on two century-old Supreme Court decisions—from 1905 and 1922—and on the game-changing National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which fundamentally altered the legal landscape for vaccination by exempting vaccine manufacturers and medical practitioners from liability for childhood vaccine injuries.

…current childhood mandates are not only radically different from what the earlier courts and legislators envisioned but are unreasonable and oppressive and have led to…perverse results that do not safeguard children’s rights and health.

The 1986 Act, in particular, resulted in an absence of legal protections for vaccinated children that is “striking compared to almost all other medical interventions.” Examining the legal trajectory of vaccine mandates since 1905, Holland argues that current childhood mandates are not only radically different from what the earlier courts and legislators envisioned but are “unreasonable and oppressive and have led to…perverse results” that do not safeguard children’s rights and health.

From mandates for emergencies to mandates for “prevention”

The Supreme Court’s 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision, as summarized by Holland, justified the imposition of one vaccine—smallpox—on adults “on an emergency basis” and under circumstances of “imminent danger.” At the same time, the Jacobson decision established medical exemptions, reasoning that it “would be cruel and inhuman in the last degree” to vaccinate someone who was medically unfit. Jacobson also contained “robust cautionary language,” calling attention to the potential for “arbitrary and oppressive” abuse of police power and warning against going “far beyond what was reasonably required for the safety of the public.” Jacobson urged courts to be “vigilant to examine and thwart unreasonable assertions of state power.”

Despite these words of warning, state-level courts did not wait long before broadening the judicial interpretation of Jacobson beyond the notion of imminent danger or necessity—although still within the context of just the smallpox vaccine:

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  • In 1916, Alabama and Kentucky courts affirmed states’ right to mandate vaccination for prevention of smallpox epidemics, stating that state Boards of Health “are not required to wait until an epidemic actually exists before taking action.” The Alabama court also broadened the rationale for mandates beyond adults to children.
  • In 1922, the three-paragraph Zucht v. King Supreme Court decision sanctioned vaccine mandates as a condition for public school attendance. According to Holland, this decision further shifted Jacobson’s “paradigm…by upholding a mandate exclusively for children and not for the entire population.”
  • Decisions in Mississippi and Texas in the early 1930s granted public health authorities the leeway to define public health emergencies in whatever manner they saw fit.
  • A New Jersey court in the late 1940s interpreted Jacobson as justifying all vaccine mandates, “disregarding its language to reject unreasonable, arbitrary or oppressive state actions.”
  • An Arkansas court in the early 1950s suggested that anyone questioning vaccine safety or efficacy should “lodge [their] objections with the Board of Health rather than the court.”

Occasionally, legal officials expressed their disapproval of vaccine mandates outside of emergencies, as with the North Dakota judge who, in 1919, pronounced childhood vaccination in the absence of a smallpox epidemic an act of “barbarism.” The same judge also wrote presciently about the self-interest of the medical profession and vaccine manufacturers—“the class that reap a golden harvest from vaccination and the diseases caused by it.” In comments that bear repeating today, the judge stated,

“Every person of common sense and observation must know that it is not the welfare of the children that causes the vaccinators to preach their doctrines and to incur the expense of lobbying for vaccination statutes. …And if anyone says to the contrary, he either does not know the facts, or he has no regard for the truth.”

The legal sea change in 1986

Although vaccination mandates had become legally “well-entrenched” by the mid-1950s—regardless of emergency and “all but erasing” Jacobson’s cautionary language—Holland emphasizes that this legal framework arose in the context of a single vaccine for a contagious disease considered to be life-threatening. Even when the polio vaccine subsequently came on the scene, the nonprofit organization that helped develop and distribute the vaccine “opposed compulsion on principle.”

According to Holland, the creation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—“a federal advisory body with little public participation and no direct accountability to voters”—laid the groundwork for far more coercive vaccine policies. In fact, ACIP has become, over time, the “driving force” behind vaccine mandates. Whereas Jacobson justified mandates under specific and rare circumstances, ACIP has created an “infrastructure” that pushes mandates for any vaccine-preventable illness.

…revenue-generating vaccine development and promotion have enjoyed priority over vaccine safety science and injury compensation since the Law’s (NCVIA) inception

By 1981, after ACIP helped ensure that multiple vaccines were obligatory for school attendance in all 50 states, the number of vaccine injuries began increasing. Against this backdrop, Congress enacted the NCVIA in 1986. Although some legislators may have been well-intentioned when they passed the Act, Holland makes it clear that it has been nothing short of a disaster. In essence, the Act located “vaccine promotion, safety and compensation under one [government] umbrella,” thereby creating “the risk of trade-offs among competing goals.” The rather predictable result is that “revenue-generating vaccine development and promotion have enjoyed priority over vaccine safety science and injury compensation since the Law’s inception.”

Holland identifies the paradox at the core of the 1986 Law. On the one hand, the legislation “for the first time publicly acknowledged that universal compulsory vaccination is likely to cause permanent injury and death to some infants and children”; on the other hand, it forces healthy children to give up ordinary legal protections, including informed consent, and takes away from injured children the right to sue manufacturers directly.

Meanwhile, ACIP has continued to promote a shift away from “necessity” as the rationale for vaccine mandates. A number of the vaccines that ACIP now calls for American children to get to attend school—70 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18—are for rarely fatal illnesses and for conditions “not contagious through ordinary social contact.” Holland’s conclusion is that:

“Necessity no longer determines the validity of state childhood vaccination mandates…. New vaccine mandates are guided by financial returns on low prevalence diseases, not protection of the entire population against imminent harm.”

“Ravenous corporate greed and mindless bureaucracy”

Some of the most troubling facts come at the end of Holland’s impressive legal review and concern the power of the pharmaceutical industry. She notes:

  • The pharmaceutical industry has been the most profitable industry in the U.S. since the 1980s.
  • In a single year in the early 2000s, “the combined profits of the ten largest drug companies in the Fortune 500 had higher net profits…than all the other 490 companies [in the Fortune 500] combined.”
  • There are more full-time pharmaceutical industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill than there are legislators in both Houses of Congress.
  • The leading manufacturers of childhood vaccines in the U.S. (Merck, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur) have records of documented fraud and criminal/ethical misconduct.

Holland also tackles the extensive collusion between the pharmaceutical industry and government regulators, including a quote about “ravenous corporate greed and mindless bureaucracy” in a related article. Whereas “demonstrably predatory corporations selling compulsory products to a vulnerable population should lead to a high level of government scrutiny and skepticism,” Holland observes that “government appears to ally its interests with industry in the arena of vaccines.”

Coercion is backfiring

Fortunately, the public and even some health professionals are growing increasingly wise to this industry-government shell game. In one community, opposition to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine mandates recently put public health authorities on the defensive about the epidemic of autoimmunity in today’s youth, the “exorbitant” amount of neurotoxic aluminum in vaccines and the requirement to “get a vaccine for something that can’t be caught in a classroom.” A parent responding to the news article stated, “Why should I as a mother trust the Public Information Officer for the state Department of Health when he cannot even name the amount of aluminum in the vaccine?” Thus, it is up to the public—and ethical professionals—to engage in the “scrutiny and skepticism” that the U.S. government has unconscionably failed to exercise.


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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Awareness

How X-Ray Mammography Is Accelerating The Epidemic of Cancer

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Article written by Sayer Ji, Founder of Greenmedinfo LLC, posted here with permission.

While a growing body of research now suggests that x-ray mammography is causing more harm than good in the millions of women who subject themselves to breast screenings, annually, without knowledge of their true health risks, the primary focus has been on the harms associated with over-diagnosis and over-treatment, and not the radiobiological dangers of the procedure itself.

In 2006, a paper published in the British Journal of Radiobiology, titled “Enhanced biological effectiveness of low energy X-rays and implications for the UK breast screening programme,” revealed the type of radiation used in x-ray-based breast screenings is much more carcinogenic than previously believed:

Recent radiobiological studies have provided compelling evidence that the low energy X-rays as used in mammography are approximately four times – butpossibly as much as six times – more effective in causing mutational damage than higher energy X-rays. Since current radiation risk estimates are based on the effects of high energy gamma radiation, this implies that the risks of radiation-induced breast cancers for mammography X-rays are underestimated by the same factor.[1]

In other words, the radiation risk model used to determine whether the benefit of breast screenings in asymptomatic women outweighs their harm, underestimates the risk of mammography-induced breast and related cancers by between 4-600%.

The authors continued

Risk estimates for radiation-induced cancer – principally derived from the atomic bomb survivor study (ABSS) – are based on the effects of high energy gamma-rays and thus the implication is that the risks of radiation-induced breast cancer arising from mammography may be higher than that assumed based on standard risks estimates.

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This is not the only study to demonstrate mammography X-rays are more carcinogenic than atomic bomb spectrum radiation. There is also an extensive amount of data on the downside of x-ray mammography.

Sadly, even if one uses the outdated radiation risk model (which underestimates the harm done),* the weight of the scientific evidence (as determined by the work of The Cochrane Collaboration) actually shows that breast screenings are in all likelihood not doing any net good in those who undergo them.

In a 2009 Cochrane Database Systematic Review,** also known as the Gøtzsche and Nielsen’s Cochrane Review, titled “Screening for breast cancer with mammography,” the authors revealed the tenuous statistical justifications for mass breast screenings:

Screening led to 30% overdiagnosis and overtreatment, or an absolute risk increase of 0.5%. This means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily. Furthermore, more than 200 women will experience important psychological distress for many months because of false positive findings. It is thus not clear whether screening does more good than harm.[2]

In this review, the basis for estimating unnecessary treatment was the 35% increased risk of surgery among women who underwent screenings. Many of the surgeries, in fact, were the result of women being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a “cancer” that would not exists as a clinically relevant entity were it not for the fact that it is detectable through x-ray mammography. DCIS, in the vast majority of cases, has no palpable lesion or symptoms, and some experts believe it should be completely reclassified as a non-cancerous condition.

A more recent study published in the British Medical Journal in 2011 titled, “Possible net harms of breast cancer screening: updated modeling of Forrest report,” not only confirmed the Gøtzsche and Nielsen’s Cochrane Review findings, but found the situation likely worse:

This analysis supports the claim that the introduction of breast cancer screening might have caused net harm for up to 10 years after the start of screening.[3]

So, let’s assume that these reviews are correct, and at the very least, the screenings are not doing any good, and at worst, causing more harm than good. The salient question, however, is how much more harm than good? If we consider that, according to data from Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2011), a mammogram uses 4 mSv of radiation vs. the .02 mSv of your average chest x-ray (which is 200 times more radiation), and then, we factor in the 4-600% higher genotoxicity/carcinogenicity associated with the specific “low-energy” wavelengths used in mammography, it is highly possible that beyond the epidemic of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, mammograms are planting seeds of radiation-induced cancer within the breasts of millions of women.***

With the advent of non-ionizing radiation based diagnostic technologies, such as thermography, it has become vitally important that patients educate themselves about the alternatives to x-ray mammography that already exist.  Until then, we must use our good sense – and research like this – to inform our decisions, and as far as the unintended adverse effects of radiation go, erring on the side of caution whenever possible.

Additional Reading

Is X-ray Mammography Findings Cancer or Benign Lesions?

The Dark Side of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Does Chemo & Radiation Actually Make Cancer More Malignant?


*This discrepancy in radiation risk models/estimates follows from two fundamental problems: 1) the older risk model was based on higher-energy radiation emissions, such as are given off from atomic bomb blasts 2) it was a crude model, developed before the discovery of DNA and a full understanding of radiotoxicity/genotoxicity.

** Keep in mind that the Cochrane Database Review is at the top of the “food chain” of truth, in the highly touted “evidence-based model” of conventional medicine. Cochrane Database Reviews are produced by The Cochrane Collaboration, which is internationally recognized as the benchmark for high quality, evidence-based information concerning the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of common health care interventions. The organization, comprised of over 28,000 dedicated people from over 100 countries, prides itself on being an “independent” source of information, and historically has not been afraid to point out the corrupting influence of industry, which increasingly co-opts  the biomedical research and publishing fields.

***The low-energy wavelengths cause double strand breaks within the DNA of susceptible cells, which the cell can not repair. Through time these mutations result in “neoplastic transformation”; radiation has the ability to induce a cancerous phenotype within formerly healthy cells that has cancer stem cell-like (CSC) properties.


[1] Enhanced biological effectiveness of low energy X-rays and implications for the UK breast screening programme. Br J Radiol. 2006 Mar ;79(939):195-200. PMID: 16498030

[2] Screening for breast cancer with mammography. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009(4):CD001877. Epub 2009 Oct 7. PMID: 19821284

[3] Possible net harms of breast cancer screening: updated modelling of Forrest report. BMJ. 2011 ;343:d7627. Epub 2011 Dec 8. PMID: 22155336


Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.

If you want to learn more from Greenmedinfo, sign up for their newsletter here

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Awareness

Why Water Fluoridation Is A Forced Experiment That Needs To Stop

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The United States stands almost entirely alone among developed nations in adding industrial silicofluorides to its drinking water—imposing the community-wide measure without informed consent. Globally, roughly 5% of the population consumes chemically fluoridated water, but more people in the U.S. drink fluoride-adulterated water than in all other countries combined. Within the U.S., just under a third (30%) of local water supplies are not fluoridated; these municipalities have either held the practice at bay since fluoridation’s inception or have won hard-fought battles to halt water fluoridation.

Dozens of studies and reviews—including in top-tier journals such as The Lancet—have shown that fluoride is neurotoxic and lowers children’s IQ.

The fluoride chemicals added to drinking water are unprocessed toxic wasteproducts—captured pollutants from Florida’s phosphate fertilizer industry or unregulated chemical imports from China. The chemicals undergo no purification before being dumped into drinking water and often harbor significant levels of arsenic and other heavy metal contamination; one researcher describes this unavoidable contamination as a “regulatory blind spotthat jeopardizes any safe use of fluoride additives.”

Dozens of studies and reviews—including in top-tier journals such as The Lancet—have shown that fluoride is neurotoxic and lowers children’s IQ. Fluoride is also associated with a variety of other health risks in both children and adults. However, U.S. officialdom persists in making hollow claims that water fluoridation is safe and beneficial, choosing to ignore even its own research! A multimillion-dollar longitudinal study published in Environmental Health Perspectives in September, 2017, for example, was largely funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences—and the seminal study revealed a strong relationship between fluoride exposure in pregnant women and lowered cognitive function in offspring. Considered in the context of other research, the study’s implications are, according to the nonprofit Fluoride Action Network, “enormous”—“a cannon shot across the bow of the 80 year old practice of artificial fluoridation.”

According to declassified government documents summarized by Project Censored, Manhattan Project scientists discovered early on that fluoride was a leading health hazard to bomb program workers and surrounding communities.

A little history

During World War II, fluoride (a compound formed from the chemical element fluorine) came into large-scale production and use as part of the Manhattan Project. According to declassified government documents summarized by Project Censored, Manhattan Project scientists discovered early on that fluoride was a “leading health hazard to bomb program workers and surrounding communities.” In order to stave off lawsuits, government scientists “embarked on a campaign to calm the social panic about fluoride…by promoting its usefulness in preventing tooth decay.”

To prop up its “exaggerated claims of reduction in tooth decay,” government researchers began carrying out a series of poorly designed and fatally flawed community trials of water fluoridation in a handful of U.S. cities in the mid-1940s. In a critique decades later, a University of California-Davis statistician characterized these early agenda-driven fluoridation trials as “especially rich in fallacies, improper design, invalid use of statistical methods, omissions of contrary data, and just plain muddleheadedness and hebetude.” As one example, a 15-year trial launched in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945 used a nearby city as a non-fluoridated control, but after the control city began fluoridating its own water supply five years into the study, the design switched from a comparison with the non-fluoridated community to a before-and-after assessment of Grand Rapids. Fluoridation’s proponents admitted that this change substantially “compromised” the quality of the study.

In 1950, well before any of the community trials could reach any conclusions about the systemic health effects of long-term fluoride ingestion, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) endorsed water fluoridation as official public health policy, strongly encouraging communities across the country to adopt the unproven measure for dental caries prevention. Describing this astonishingly non-evidence-based step as “the Great Fluoridation Gamble,” the authors of the 2010 book, The Case Against Fluorideargue that:

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“Not only was safety not demonstrated in anything approaching a comprehensive and scientific study, but also a large number of studies implicating fluoride’s impact on both the bones and the thyroid gland were ignored or downplayed” (p. 86).

In 2015, Newsweek magazine not only agreed that the scientific rationale for putting fluoride in drinking water was not as “clear-cut” as once thought but also shared the “shocking” finding of a more recent Cochrane Collaboration review, namely, that there is no evidence to support the use of fluoride in drinking water.

Bad science and powerful politics

The authors of The Case Against Fluoride persuasively argue that “bad science” and “powerful politics” are primary factors explaining why government agencies continue to defend the indefensible practice of water fluoridation, despite abundant evidence that it is unsafe both developmentally and after “a lifetime of exposure to uncontrolled doses.” Comparable to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s bookThimerosal: Let the Science Speak, which summarizes studies that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and “credulous journalists swear don’t exist,” The Case Against Fluoride is an extensively referenced tour de force, pulling together hundreds of studies showing evidence of fluoride-related harm.

… death rates in the ten most fluoridated U.S. states are 5% to 26% higher than in the ten least fluoridated states, with triple the rate of Alzheimer’s disease.

The research assembled by the book’s authors includes studies on fluoride biochemistry; cancer; fluoride’s effects on the brain, endocrine system and bones; and dental fluorosis. With regard to the latter, public health agencies like to define dental fluorosis as a purely cosmetic issue involving “changes in the appearance of tooth enamel,” but the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (IAOMT)—a global network of dentists, health professionals and scientists dedicated to science-based biological dentistry—describes the damaged enamel and mottled and brittle teeth that characterize dental fluorosis as “the first visible sign of fluoride toxicity.”

The important 2017 study that showed decrements in IQ following fluoride exposure during pregnancy is far from the only research sounding the alarm about fluoride’s adverse developmental effects. In his 2017 volumePregnancy and Fluoride Do Not Mix, John D. MacArthur pulls together hundreds of studies linking fluoride to premature birth and impaired neurological development (93 studies), preelampsia (77 studies) and autism (110 studies). The book points out that rates of premature birth are “unusually high” in the United States. At the other end of the lifespan, MacArthur observes that death rates in the ten most fluoridated U.S. states are 5% to 26% higher than in the ten least fluoridated states, with triple the rate of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2006 report by the National Research Council warned that exposure to fluoride might increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The word is out

Pregnancy and Fluoride Do Not Mix shows that the Institute of Medicine, National Research Council, Harvard’s National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Toxicology Program all are well aware of the substantial evidence of fluoride’s developmental neurotoxicity, yet no action has been taken to warn pregnant women. Instead, scientists with integrity, legal professionals and the public increasingly are taking matters into their own hands. A Citizens Petitionsubmitted in 2016 to the EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act requested that the EPA “exercise its authority to prohibit the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to U.S. water supplies.” This request—the focus of a lawsuit to be argued in court later in 2019—poses a landmark challenge to the dangerous practice of water fluoridation and has the potential to end one of the most significant chemical assaults on our children’s developing bodies and brains.

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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