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Are Doctors Actually Giving Patients Any Up-to-Date Vaccine Safety Information?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    How much do doctors really know about vaccines? How much do they rely on pharmaceutical companies? What do they learn abut vaccines in med school? Practically nothing, except for how they work.

  • Reflect On:

    Is it safe to put our trust in doctors, who in turn put their trust in big pharmaceutical companies and science?

In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), a carefully crafted piece of legislation that gave vaccine manufacturers their dream come true: blanket immunity from liability for injuries resulting from childhood vaccines. Throwing a bone to the safety concerns of consumers, the Act also mandated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (via the CDC) develop and distribute educational materials to inform vaccine recipients and/or their parents about a given vaccine’s risks and benefits.

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The NCVIA stipulated that doctors give out the appropriate materials—currently called Vaccine Information Statements (VISs)—“prior to every dose of specific vaccines,” including before “each dose of a multi-dose series.” Early on, government documentation emphasized the importance of giving VISs every time a vaccine is administered because “the health status of the child could have changed”—and as an example of changes in health status, the CDC cited children with “evolving neurological disorder[s].”

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By 2005, however, researchers were calling attention to doctors’ frequent failure to give out VISs, while also noting that the physicians who did distribute VISs “rarely initiated discussions regarding contraindications to immunizations.” To rectify the situation, the same authors carried out a CDC-coordinated evaluation in 2007 and proposed revisions “that would alert the physician to the need to use the VIS.” Neither the CDC nor state-level officials endorsed the proposed revisions.

When it comes to their duty to educate, all signs indicate that doctors and the CDC are falling down on the job.

At present, few researchers are even asking whether doctors comply with their legal responsibility to not only distribute vaccine-specific VISs each time but also give recipients “an opportunity to ask questions about the vaccine.” Nor does anyone appear to be investigating whether health care providers check in with parents about changes in a child’s health status, or whether providers are aware of VIS updates. When it comes to their duty to educate, all signs indicate that doctors and the CDC are falling down on the job.

Dumbing down the content

Post-NCVIA, researchers were quick to laud VISs as “revolutionary” tools for provider-patient education. However, the government has dumbed down the content and process requirements for the vaccine education materials several times since 1986. Currently, instead of the comprehensive 12-page pamphlets only offered for a short while in the early 1990s (which responded to ten very explicit NCVIA requirements), parents receive “concise” front-and-back one-pagers (or their electronic equivalent) that are only expected to cover four “general” areas: vaccine benefits and risks (brief descriptions), a “statement” about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and “other relevant information.”

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In 2008, the CDC also introduced “pediatric multi-vaccine” VISs, ostensibly to “reduce parents’ reading load” at doctors’ visits where children were routinely receiving as many as nine vaccines in one sitting. How did the agency collapse information from five separate VISs (for the DTaP, polio, hepatitis B, pneumococcal conjugate and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines) into a single two-page document? It eliminated “some ‘nice to know’ information” and condensed remarks about the NVICP and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)—the two key resources important to know about in the event of an adverse reaction—down to the bare minimum.

Slipping in more changes

Vaccine Information Statements typically list a handful of categories of people who “should not get” the vaccine. For most vaccines, this includes individuals who had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine or who are severely allergic to one of the vaccine’s ingredients. However, parents who want to know what a vaccine’s ingredients are (so that they can assess allergy risks) must take additional steps to find out, because the VISs do not list the ingredients. Instead, the VIS advises parents to “Ask your health care provider if you want information about vaccine components.”

Other categories of people who should not get vaccines, as per most VISs, include individuals with weakened immune systems (due to disease or medical treatments), women who are pregnant or “might be pregnant” (the CDC limits this caution to live virus vaccines and says it’s just fine to administer other types of vaccines to pregnant women) and other groups (depending on the vaccine).

In February, 2018, the CDC added a new “should not vaccinate” category to the VISs for the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine: individuals who have “a parent, brother, or sister with a history of immune system problems.” Although this broadly worded caution was not present in previous (2012) versions, the CDC’s “what’s new with VISs,” dated October 12, 2018, says nothing about the change. Instead, the CDC simply tells health care providers that “updated VISs for…MMR, MMRV, and varicella have been posted.”

The change, seemingly slipped into the VISs without fanfare, raises many questions:

  • First, is the CDC making any effort to communicate the change to pediatricians and other providers of vaccines?
  • To what extent are pediatricians aware of and acting on the change?
  • What types of “immune system problems” does the language refer to?
  • Given how widespread immune problems currently are in both children and adults (with vaccines representing a potent contributor to immune dysfunction), what are the implications of the new caution in terms of vaccine exemptions?
  • Is it time to remind the CDC and physicians that a child’s health status is dynamic rather than static (particularly when it is under recurrent assault from an ever-growing number of vaccines)?
  • Shouldn’t “immune system problems” be on the table as an important topic of discussion when vaccine proponents make the draconian argument that physicians don’t have the authority to grant medical exemptions?
  • And finally, to what extent do doctors hear about important research on vaccine safety concerns not disclosed in the VISs?

Physicians’ one-sided information

From medical school on, the health care system drums the message into doctors that they should focus on “parental compliance” and adherence to the childhood vaccine schedule. Moreover, a recent analysis of VISs notes that it is “the healthcare provider, rather than the parent, [who] will determine if the child is too ill to receive the vaccine,” particularly because many of the phrases found in VISs (such as “immune system problems”?) are worded in a manner that “may not be readily evident to a parent or patient.”

…the CDC gives physicians the green light to administer the vaccines to children who experienced fever, collapse, shock, or lengthy inconsolable crying within 48 hours of a previous dose, as well as to children with a family history of seizures, sudden infant death syndrome or neurologic conditions

Unfortunately, the CDC seems most interested in making sure that health care providers do not defer vaccination and warns providers to avoid confusion about “conditions…commonly misperceived as contraindications.” For example, the CDC says that it is okay to administer vaccines to individuals who have mild acute illness or are convalescing; individuals with autoimmune disease; and preterm babies (to name just a few). The agency also proposes that providers use hospitalization “as an opportunity to provide recommended vaccinations.”

For the DTaP and Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis) vaccines, the CDC gives physicians the green light to administer the vaccines to children who experienced fever, collapse, shock, or lengthy inconsolable crying within 48 hours of a previous dose, as well as to children with a family history of seizures, sudden infant death syndrome or neurologic conditions. In short, what appears to matter most to the CDC is that health care providers use “every opportunity to administer appropriate vaccines.”

In response, parents need to remind providers that the NCVIA, flawed as it is, guarantees their right to ask questions and carefully weigh vaccine risks and benefits.

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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Vancouver Council Votes Against Mandatory Mask Mandate: They’re Not Required

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vancouver, Canada will not have a required mask policy in civic facilities, and instead will simply recommend that people wear them.

  • Reflect On:

    Should governments recommend what they feel we should do and present the science instead of forcing certain measures on the population that many people and health professionals clearly disagree with?

What Happened: The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will not mandate masks inside city buildings and will “strongly encourage” people to wear them instead. This is a bold move as many cities across the globe have mandatory mask measures in place.

The proposal by Counc. Sarah Kirby-Yung, which would have required masks inside city buildings, was opposed by more than a dozen speakers who pleaded with the city council to vote against it.

“Please consider our forefathers fought for our freedom, and if we release that choice, it’s the first step towards a dictatorship,” said one speaker according to City News. “Masks are used as weapons and they have certainly been used as weapons against me and others to silence and marginalize us and it’s not fair.”

According to Coun. Christine Boyle, public health experts encourage wearing masks, but a mandatory policy is not needed.

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Positive Association Found Amongst COVID Deaths & Flu Shot Rates Worldwide In Elderly

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A recently published paper has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

  • Reflect On:

    Why does vaccine hesitancy continue to grow worldwide? What's going on? What information/factors are contributing to this hesitancy?

What Happened: A recently published study in PeerJ  by Christian Wehenkel, a Professor at Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango in Mexico, has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

According to the study, “The results showed a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and IVR (influenza vaccination rate) of people ≥65 years-old. There is a significant increase in COVID-19 deaths from eastern to western regions in the world. Further exploration is needed to explain these findings, and additional work on this line of research may lead to prevention of deaths associated with COVID-19.”

To determine this association, data sets from 39 countries with more than half a million people were analyzed.

The study was published on October 1st, and two weeks later a note from the publisher appeared atop the paper emphasizing that correlation does not equal causation, and that this paper “should not be taken to suggest that receiving the influenza vaccination results in an increased risk of death for an individual with COVID-19 as there may be confounding factors at play.”

The paper provides evidence from others which have recently been published that ponder if the flu shot could increase ones chance of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

For example, this study published in April of 2020, reported a negative correlation between influenza vaccination rates (IVRs) and COVID-19 related mortality and morbidity. Marín-Hernández, Schwartz & Nixon (2020) also showed epidemiological evidence of an association between higher influenza vaccine uptake by elderly people and lower percentage of COVID-19 deaths in Italy, which directly contradicts the author’s own findings and suggests that the flu shot may help prevent COVID-19 related deaths.

He goes on to mention another study:

In a study analyzing 92,664 clinically and molecularly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil, Fink et al. (2020) reported that patients who received a recent flu vaccine experienced on average 17% lower odds of death. Moreover, Pawlowski et al. (2020) analyzed the immunization records of 137,037 individuals who tested positive in a SARS-CoV-2 PCR. They found that polio, Hemophilus influenzae type-B, measles-mumps-rubella, varicella, pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13), geriatric flu, and hepatitis A/hepatitis B (HepA-HepB) vaccines, which had been administered in the past 1, 2, and 5 years, were associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.

So, its important to mention that correlations between the flu vaccine have also found that it may decrease ones chance of deaths from COVID-19.

But are there studies that have shown an increased chance of death or contracting other respiratory viruses as a result of getting the flu shot? Yes.

That’s also discussed in the paper. For example, he mentions a paper published in 2018:

In a study with 6,120 subjects, Wolff (2020) reported that influenza vaccination was significantly associated with a higher risk of some other respiratory diseases, due to virus interference. In a specific examination of non-influenza viruses, the odds of coronavirus infection (but not the COVID-19 virus) in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher, when compared to unvaccinated individuals (odds ratio = 1.36).

The study above found the flu shot to increase the risk of other coronaviruses among those who had been vaccinated for influenza by 36 percent. The study was conducted prior to COVID-19, so it’s not included and only applies to pre-existing coronaviruses. The study also found an even higher chance of contracting human metapneumovirus amongst those who had received the flu shot.

Below are some more studies regarding the flu shot and viral infections that hint to the same idea.

  • 2018 CDC study (Rikin et al 2018) found that flu shots increase the risk of non-flu acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs), including coronavirus, in children.
  • A 2011 Australian study (Kelly et al 2011) found that flu shots doubled the risk for non-flu viral lung infections.
  • 2012 Hong Kong study (Cowling et al 2012) found that flu shots increase the risk for non-flu respiratory infections by 4.4 times.
  • 2017 study (Mawson et al 2017) found vaccinated children were 5.9 times more likely to suffer pneumonia than their unvaccinated peers.

Why This Is Important: We live in an age where vaccinations are heavily marketed. We’ve seen this with the flu shot time and time again and we are also living in an age where a push for more mandated vaccines seems to be growing.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal) and also an assistant professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

This is a touchy subject that dives into medical ethics and the connections that big pharmaceutical companies have with our federal health regulatory agencies and health associations. Vaccines are a multi billion dollar industry.

At a recent World Health Organization conference on vaccine safety, it was expressed that vaccine hesitancy is growing at quite a fast pace, especially among doctors who are now becoming hesitant to recommend certain vaccines on the schedule. You can read more about that and find links to the conference here.

We have to ask ourselves, why is this happening? Is it because people and professionals are becoming aware of certain information that warrants the freedom of choice? Should freedom of choice with regards to what we put in our body always remain? Are we really protecting the “herd” by taking these actions?

In a 2014 analysis in the Oregon Law Review by New York University (NYU) legal scholars Mary Holland and Chase E. Zachary (who also has a Princeton-conferred doctorate in chemistry), the authors show that 60 years of compulsory vaccine policies “have not attained herd immunity for any childhood disease.” It is time, they suggest, to cast aside coercion in favor of voluntary choice.

When it comes to the flu shot, I put more information and science as to why so many people seem to refuse it, in this article if interested.

The University of California is currently being sued for mandating the flu shot for all staff, faculty and students. A judge has prevented them from doing so as a result until a decision has been made. You can read more about that here.

In South Korea, 48 people have now died after receiving the flu shot this season causing a lot of controversy. You can read more about that here.

The Takeaway: There are many concerns with vaccines, and vaccine injury is one of them. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Should these statistics alone warrant the freedom of choice? Should the government have the ability to force us into measures, or would it simply be better for them to present the science, make recommendations and urge people to follow them? When the citizenry is forced and coerced into certain actions, sometimes under the guise of good-will, there always seems to be a tremendous amount of uproar and people who disagree. Why are these people silenced? Why are they censored? Why are they ridiculed? Why don’t independent health organizations receive the same voice and reach that government and state “owned” or organizations do? What’s going on here? Do we really live in a free, open and transparent world or are we simply subjected to massive amounts of perception manipulation?

When it come to the flu shot there is plenty of information on both sides of the coin that point to its effectiveness, and on the other hand there is information that points to the complete opposite. When something is not 100 percent clear, freedom of choice in all places should always remain, in my opinion.

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Some South Korean Doctors & Politicians Call To Stop Flu Shots After 48 People Die

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, but health authorities in South Korea have found no link between the vaccine and the deaths.

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot as safe as it's marketed to be?

What Happened: It’s that time of year and flu shot programs are rolling out across the globe. The number of South Koreans who have died after getting the flu shot has now risen to 48 and some South Korean doctors and politicians have called to stop flu shots as a result, according to Reuters. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has decided not to stop the program, and that flu vaccines would continue to be given and will reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics in the era of COVID-19.

Health authorities in South Korea have explained that they’ve found no direct link between these deaths and the shots. KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung said, “After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering…the COVID-19 outbreaks.”

According to Reuters, “Some initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.”

The South Korean government is hopeful to vaccinate approximately 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

Concerns Some People Have With The Flu Shot: One concern many people seem to have is the worry of a severe adverse reaction.

Dr. Alvin Moss, MD and professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine emphasizes in this video:

The flu vaccine happens to be the vaccine that causes the most injury in this country. The vaccine injury compensation program, 40 percent of all vaccinations in this country are flu shots, but 60 percent of all the compensations are for the flu vaccine. So a disproportionate number of  vaccine related injuries are the flu shot.

Moss is one of many who believe that the flu vaccine is not as effective as it’s been marketed to be. For example,  A study recently published in Global Advances In Health & Medicine titled “Ascorbate as Prophylaxis and Therapy for COVID-19—Update From Shanghai and U.S. Medical Institutions outlines the following:

Recently outlined A recent consensus statement from a group of renowned infectious disease clinicians observed that vaccine programs have proven ill-suited to the fast-changing viruses underlying these illnesses, with efficacy ranging from 19% to 54% in the past few years.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal)  published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

These are just a few examples out of many claiming that the flu shot has not really been effective, opposing others that claim it is.  Mercury that’s still present in some flu shots also seems to be a concern.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project stated at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference that more doctors are starting to be hesitant when it comes to recommending vaccines.

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…

This is no secret, and actions against mandates are being taken. The University of California was recently sued for making the flu shot mandatory. That trial will begin soon, and you can read more about it here, and find information regarding the claim that the flu shot can help in the times of COVID-19.

The Takeaway: We are living in an age of extreme censorship of information, no matter how credible or how much evidence is provided, information that goes against the grain always seems to receive a harsh backlash from mainstream media as well as social media outlets. Why is there a digital fact checker patrolling the internet? Should people not have the right to examine information openly and freely and determine for themselves what is and what isn’t?

As far as vaccines are concerned, despite the fact that there are many safety issues the scientific community  is bringing up, a push for vaccine mandates continues and the idea that we are protecting other people is usually the narrative that’s pushed hard. Vaccine skepticism is growing at a fast pace among people of all professions, and people aren’t stupid. There’s a reason why more and more people are starting to question what we’ve been told for years, and those reasons should be acknowledged and openly discussed amongst people on both sides of the coin.

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