By Dr. Mercola
Recent events again highlight the need for Americans to stand up for their right to know, and freedom to choose, when it comes to medical risk taking. The New York Court of Appeals not only has given the nod of approval to New York City’s health department requirement that all preschoolers must get annual flu shots, but the California legislature is also moving toward eliminating the personal belief vaccine exemption for families on welfare.
Aside from the loss of the human right to informed consent to medical risk taking, these decisions are all the more incomprehensible considering the lack of scientific evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of annual flu vaccination from cradle to grave and one-size-fits-all vaccination policies and laws. Again and again, we see vaccine policy built on lobbying dollars without real concern for human health and welfare.
Informed Consent to Medical Risk Taking Is a Basic Human Right
As noted by National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) president Barbara Loe Fisher in her Independence Day commentary on zero tolerance vaccine laws,1 “Today, we are witnessing the erosion of core values that our constitutional democracy was founded upon. One example is a public campaign led by the medical establishment to demonize and discriminate against anyone opposing zero tolerance vaccine laws that violate human rights in the name of public health.”
Informed consent is a basic human right in which a person has the ability to voluntarily accept or reject a treatment or medical procedure, including use of pharmaceutical products, after being fully informed of all possible risks and benefits. According to the University of Washington School of Medicine,2 “The most important goal of informed consent is that the patient has an opportunity to be an informed participant in her health care decisions.”
It’s a simple enough premise, but throughout history we’ve seen cases where informed consent was not only challenged but completely ignored, and this trend not only exists to this day, it has flourished in recent years, with cities, states and federal government pushing for mandatory vaccine laws with no ability to opt out. As noted by Fisher:3
“There are only two laws that require American citizens to risk their lives. The first is a federal law, the military draft, which requires all healthy male adults to risk their lives in a war declared by the government to protect national security. The second is a state law requiring all healthy children to risk their lives in a war that doctors declared on microbes two centuries ago.
However, unlike adults who are NOT punished for following their conscience and refusing to fight in a war to protect national security, parents CAN be punished for following their conscience and refusing to risk their children’s lives in a war to theoretically protect the public health.
State sanctions include segregation and loss of the unvaccinated child’s right to a school education or permitting pediatricians to deny medical care to children if their parents refuse one or more government recommended vaccinations.
Two different laws that require healthy Americans to risk injury or death: one conscripting adults in what government clearly defines as an emergency military action; and the other conscripting children in a mandatory vaccination program that is not defined as an emergency military action but is operated like one.”
New York City Gets Green Light to Require Annual Flu Vaccinations for Preschoolers
Case in point, June 28, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the New York City health department has the right to require flu vaccination for preschoolers. The requirement was initiated in 2013 by city public health officials.
Five families sued the health department in 2015 to have the requirement overturned and two lower court rulings agreed the city had overstepped its legal authority. This final decision by the Court of Appeals now cements the city’s legal right to require flu shots for children aged 6 to 59 months before they’re permitted to attend child care or preschool. In the decision, Judge Leslie Stein wrote:4
“Undisputedly, there is a very direct connection between the flu vaccine rules and the preservation of health and safety. The rules challenged here do not relate merely to a personal choice about an individual’s own health but, rather, seek to ensure increased public safety and health for the citizenry by reducing the prevalence and spread of a contagious infectious disease within a particularly vulnerable population.”
In response to the decision, New York City health commissioner Mary Bassett said:5
“Vaccines save lives and are an effective public health tool to prevent the spread of disease. The severity of this past influenza season reminds us of how deadly influenza can be. The influenza vaccine is the best protection against seasonal influenza for everyone.
Children who receive the influenza vaccine are less likely to get sick, less likely to need medical attention and less likely to die from influenza. This decision will help us protect more than 150,000 children in city-regulated day cares and preschools across the city.”
‘Vaccine-Before-Welfare’ Bill Moves Forward in California
Meanwhile, the California state Senate Committee on Human Services passed AB 19926 June 26 — a controversial bill that eliminates the personal belief vaccine exemption for families on welfare. Already, welfare recipients are required by state law to be up to date on all government mandated vaccines or lose a portion of their welfare benefits.
AB 1992, authored by Assemblyman Kansen Chu, improves access to the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS) program — a public assistance program that provides financial aid and services — for families whose children are not fully vaccinated or have difficulty proving that their children have received the required vaccinations.
Estimates suggest 4,000 families in California are not meeting the vaccine requirement for public assistance, and this bill would give families who want to vaccinate their children greater access to vaccination services.
The bill also lowers the monthly penalty for not being fully vaccinated from $130 to $50, extends the time that families have to produce vaccination records from 45 days to six months, and grants county welfare workers access to medical databases to determine whether the child has received the required vaccines in cases where parents cannot produce the records.
However, the bill also eliminates the personal belief exemption, which means welfare recipients would no longer have the legal right or ability to opt out of vaccine requirements. Candace Connelly testified before the committee, saying “her choice not to vaccinate her children shouldn’t preclude her from receiving benefits.”
According to a report by GV Wire,7 Connelly “objected to the 72 doses required in a child’s lifetime, noting the potential for vaccine injury. ‘Surely if parents have rights, one of them is to decide what gets injected into their children … I don’t believe I should have money taken out of my benefits because I don’t think that is a safe thing for my child.'”
AB 1992 Moves to Senate Appropriations Committee
Chu’s reasoning for including this provision in his bill is that the personal belief exemption from vaccines to attend public and private school was already removed by SB 277 in 2015.8 According to Chu, removing the personal belief vaccine exemption for welfare recipients simply makes the bill “comply with current law.”9 Sen. Janet Nguyen objected to the removal of the personal belief exemption.10
Sen. Connie Leyva also objected, saying “I believe requiring proof of vaccinations in order for someone to receive their benefits is unfair and unnecessary. We should not be basing it off their need, and not off of vaccinations.” Stefanie Fetzer, an advocate with Parents United 4 Kids, also commented:11
“This is NOT a public health issue. Vaccination rates are high. There is no crisis mitigating such a heavy handed, totalitarian piece of legislation. Our legislators are testing the water. How far can they go? Can they withhold a parents’ ability to feed their children if the parents are unwilling to ignore their religious or personal convictions? Why are our legislators targeting this poor, minority community?”
Fisher, on behalf of the NVIC, has also spoken out against the bill, saying,12 “It is cruel to withhold welfare benefits from families in need. NVIC opposes AB 1992 and any legislation that threatens Americans with punishment for making voluntary vaccine decisions for themselves or their children.”
Despite objections, the bill passed 4-0 out of the Senate Committee on Human Services. Leyva did not vote and Nguyen was not present during the voting; the remaining committee members, Scott Wiener, Steven Glazer, Mike McGuire and Anthony Portantino, voted in favor. A seventh member, Tom Berryhill also was not present. Next, AB 1992 will be reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Why the Lack of Concern for Vaccine Safety?
In a series of articles, the World Mercury Project questions the apparent disinterest of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) in improving vaccine safety, choosing instead to engage in smear campaigns against anyone who questions the conventional dogma and who counters false vaccine safety claims with scientific facts:13
“In the face of snowballing vaccine scandals — from fudged safety trials that use other vaccines as placebos, to persistent use of neurotoxic aluminum adjuvants, to the accelerated rollout of unproven vaccines that may be causing more problems than they solve — these and other vaccine advocacy organizations are not only turning a blind eye but are … beefing up public relations (PR) intended to stifle discussion …
Due to the well-funded medical-pharmaceutical-media apparatus that endlessly repeat the mantra that ALL vaccines are safe for ALL people ALL the time, it is nearly impossible to get a fair hearing for common-sense questions about vaccine safety, no matter how urgent such questions may be.”
In addition to the AAP and IAC, the World Mercury Project also singles out three organizations that are closely allied with AAP, all of which “frame their aims in terms of cementing vaccine infrastructure and funding,” according to the featured article:
- The 317 Coalition, whose members include vaccine manufacturers. The coalition’s focus is to increase funding to Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act, the law that governs federal purchases of vaccines. Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine, is on the steering committee, as are the executive director and chief strategy officer of the IAC
- Every Child by Two (ECBT), which promotes the mandatory use of vaccines to state and federal legislators, supports the elimination of all personal belief vaccine exemptions and generates “vaccine safety talking points.” Here, Offit is on the board of directors
- The Adult Vaccine Access Coalition, the focus of which is to lobby for “necessary federal policy changes” to boost adult vaccination rates
According to the World Mercury Project,14 ” … [T]he AAP, IAC and … ECBT are among the leading actors propagating misleading assertions about vaccine safety. All three are also actively lobbying legislators to effectively jettison informed consent in favor of mandatory vaccines.”
Leading Vaccine Educators Are Bound by Conflicts of Interest
The AAP, IAC and ECBT were also the focus of an investigative report into the partnerships between the CDC and non-profits promoting vaccines15 published in the British Medical Journal late last year. In the paper, “The Unofficial Vaccine Educators: Are CDC Funded Non-Profits Sufficiently Independent?” BMJ associate editor Peter Doshi wrote:
“[S]urvey data have documented that parental concerns over vaccination safety and timing are common, even among those whose children receive all recommended vaccines.
In 2015, a U.S. federal advisory committee warned that public confidence in vaccines cannot be taken for granted, and some prominent vaccine advocacy organizations are pushing for greater compulsion. But are these groups — which present themselves as reliable sources of information — providing the public with independent information?”
The AAP, IAC and ECBT all receive funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and vaccine manufacturers. AAP is also on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which determines which vaccines should be added to the childhood and adult vaccine schedules.
At the same time, these three nonprofits are also actively lobby for legislation aimed at removing religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions from state vaccine laws, which has been successful in some states like California.
This, despite the fact that federal law prohibits nonprofit organizations from using CDC or other federal agency money for lobbying efforts. According to Doshi, it’s unclear whether the CDC’s relationship with these three organizations has crossed into illegal territory, as he could not determine exactly how much money was received from the CDC and vaccine makers respectively.
But, as noted by World Mercury Project, “It is clear that when these … nonprofits receive grant money from CDC, those grants free up other monies for lobbying purposes.”
Doshi also notes that “These groups are so strongly pro-vaccination that the public is getting a one-sided message that all vaccines are created equal … regardless of the circumstances.” What’s more, their inherent bias and financial ties with the CDC and vaccine manufacturers completely undermine their ability to appraise CDC vaccine recommendations.
As it stands, there’s no one to counter and cross-check those recommendations because everyone involved is on the same pro-vaccine team. The drug companies manufacturing and selling vaccines have no incentive to look at safety issues either, as this would merely cut into profits and undermine the partial product liability shield given to them by the U.S. Congress in 1986 and the total immunity from vaccine injury lawsuits handed to them by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011.
Besides, 9 out of 10 of the world’s leading drug companies spend far more money on marketing their drugs and vaccines than they do on research and development.16
Flu Vaccine Allows Transmission of Disease, Study Shows
Getting back to where we started, the notion that “the influenza vaccine is the best protection against seasonal influenza for everyone,” is not supported by a large body of good scientific evidence. Recent basic science research into the shedding of influenza viruses adds yet another nail in the proverbial coffin of junk science that too often is used to promote seasonal flu shots.
The new study,17 published in the journal PNAS January 18, 2018, found infectious influenza viruses in the exhaled breath of people who had gotten seasonal flu shots and contracted influenza. Those vaccinated two seasons in a row had a greater viral load of shedding influenza A viruses. According to the authors:
“Our findings, that upper and lower airway infection are independent and that fine-particle exhaled aerosols reflect infection in the lung, opened a pathway for a deeper understanding of the human biology of influenza infection and transmission …
Self-reported vaccination for the current season was associated with a trend toward higher viral shedding in fine-aerosol samples; vaccination with both the current and previous year’s seasonal vaccines, however, was significantly associated with greater fine-aerosol shedding in unadjusted and adjusted models.
In adjusted models, we observed 6.3 times more aerosol shedding among cases with vaccination in the current and previous season compared with having no vaccination in those two seasons. Vaccination was not associated with coarse-aerosol or NP shedding. The association of vaccination and shedding was significant for influenza A but not for influenza B infections …
Finding infectious virus in 39 percent of fine-aerosol samples collected during 30 minutes of normal tidal breathing in a large community-based study of confirmed influenza infection clearly establishes that a significant fraction of influenza cases routinely shed infectious virus … into aerosol particles small enough to remain suspended in air and present a risk for airborne transmission …
The association of current and prior year vaccination with increased shedding of influenza A might lead one to speculate that certain types of prior immunity promote lung inflammation, airway closure, and aerosol generation … If confirmed, this observation, together with recent literature suggesting reduced protection with annual vaccination, would have implications for influenza vaccination recommendations and policies.”
Flu Vaccines May Do More Harm Than Good
Here, researchers provide evidence for an association between seasonal flu shots and increased shedding of influenza A viruses via breathing. They also note that other studies suggest annual flu vaccination leads to reduced protection against influenza, which means each vaccination is likely to make you progressively more prone to getting sick. The question that remains to be definitively answered is: Are vaccinated individuals with influenza more contagious than unvaccinated individuals with influenza?
Studies have also shown that getting flu shots makes you more prone to more severe respiratory illness (see below). Yet, New York City is willing to place all young children at risk for long-term complications from influenza vaccination — for what? To support the vaccine industry and meet a 100 percent flu vaccination rate for all children relentlessly pursued by public health department officials?
The flawed mandatory vaccination ideology pays no attention at all to studies that provide mounting evidence that vaccines can cause acute and chronic illness while failing to work as advertised.
The CDC and AAP direct doctors to give infants and children seasonal influenza shots starting at 6 months of age. Most studies find higher rates of health problems after just one or two flu shots. What’s going to happen to the health of children as they grow up if they are required to get a flu shot each and every year, starting in the year they were born? This simply cannot be shrugged off as a question that isn’t up for public discussion.
A 2017 article in Science magazine18 delved into some of the finer points about individuality and how people’s immune responses vary depending on a number of different factors, including the age at which you’re exposed to influenza viruses for the very first time.
That first exposure will actually influence how your immune system responds to influenza viruses for the rest of your life. Knowing this, what kind of adverse effects on healthy immune function might one expect when a child’s first exposure to influenza viruses are vaccine strain viruses created in a drug company lab that atypically manipulate the immune system to produce artificial immunity? It’s a gamble that no one has the answer to as of yet.
Mounting Body of Research Questions Validity of Annual Flu Vaccination as a Public Health Measure
Other studies have shown that:
With each successive annual flu vaccination, the theoretical protection from the vaccine appears to diminish19,20
A 2012 Chinese study21 found a child’s chances of contracting a respiratory infection after getting the seasonal flu shot rose more than fourfold, and research published in 2014 concluded that resistance to influenza-related illness in persons over age 9 years in the U.S. was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years.22
More recent research suggests the reason seasonal flu shots become less protective with each dose has to do with “original antigenic sin.” Here, they found that influenza vaccine failed to elicit a strong immune response in most participants,23 which was explained as follows:24
The flu vaccine can increase your risk of contracting other, more serious influenza infections
Canadian researchers found that people who had received the seasonal flu vaccine in 2008 had twice the risk of getting sick with the pandemic H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009 compared to those who did not receive a flu shot the previous year.25 These findings were replicated in a 2014 ferret study.26
Similarly, a 2009 U.S. study compared health outcomes for children between 6 months and age 18 who do and do not get annual flu shots and found that children who receive influenza vaccinations have a three times higher risk of influenza-related hospitalization, with asthmatic children at greatest risk.27
The concept of heterologous immunity may account for these findings. Heterologous immunity refers to the concept that your immune system is directional, and that once you’ve encountered a pathogen, your body is better equipped to fight pathogens that are similar.
However, in the case of influenza vaccines, this directionality appears to work against you. By learning to fend off certain influenza virus strains contained in the vaccine, your immune system becomes less able to fend off other influenza strains and disease-causing pathogens. As noted in a 2014 paper on heterologous immunity:28
In other words, while influenza vaccine may offer some level of protection against the three or four viral influenza strains included in the vaccine, depending on whether the vaccine used is trivalent or quadrivalent, it may simultaneously diminish your ability to ward off infection by other influenza strains and types of viral or bacterial infections.
Heterologous immunity is also addressed in a 2013 paper,29 which notes that “vaccines modulate general resistance,” and “have nonspecific effects on the ability of the immune system to handle other pathogens.” Researchers stated that:
Flu vaccine doesn’t work well in statin users
Statin drugs — taken by 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 — may interfere with your immune system’s ability to respond to the influenza vaccine.30,31 After vaccination, antibody concentrations were 38 percent to 67 percent lower in statin users over the age of 65, compared to non-statin users of the same age.32 Antibody concentrations were also reduced in younger people who took statins.
Flu vaccine does not prevent most types of influenza
Independent scientific reviews have also concluded that flu shots have only a “modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost,” and have no effect on complications of influenza.33,34 Moreover, the influenza vaccine fails to prevent influenza-like illness associated with other types of viruses responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory or gastrointestinal infections during any given flu season.35,36,37,38
Vaccination does not lower mortality in the elderly
Research39 published in 2006, which analyzed influenza-related mortality among the elderly population in Italy associated with increased vaccination coverage between 1970 and 2001, found that after the 1980s, there was no corresponding decline in excess deaths, despite rising vaccine uptake.
According to the authors, “These findings suggest that either the vaccine failed to protect the elderly against mortality (possibly due to immune senescence), and/or the vaccination efforts did not adequately target the frailest elderly. As in the U.S., our study challenges current strategies to best protect the elderly against mortality, warranting the need for better controlled trials with alternative vaccination strategies.”
Another 2006 study40 showed that, even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die BEFORE the flu season ever started.
This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.
Flu vaccination during pregnancy raises your risk of miscarriage
Research published September 25, 2017, in the medical journal Vaccine41,42,43 found that women who had received a pH1N1-containing flu shot two years in a row were more likely to suffer miscarriage within the following 28 days. While most of the miscarriages occurred during the first trimester, several also took place in the second trimester.
The median fetal term at the time of miscarriage was seven weeks. In all, 485 pregnant women aged 18 to 44, who had a miscarriage during the flu seasons of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012, were compared to 485 pregnant women who carried their babies to term.
Of the 485 women who miscarried, 17 had been vaccinated twice in a row — once in the 28 days prior to vaccination and once in the previous year. For comparison, of the 485 women who had normal pregnancies, only four had been vaccinated two years in a row.
Vitamin D substantially outperforms flu vaccine
In a 2014 analysis44 of the available research on inactivated influenza vaccines, the Cochrane Collaboration (which is considered by many as the gold standard for scientific meta-reviews) concluded that:
For comparison, a 2017 scientific review45,46 of 25 randomized controlled trials found the number needed to treat (NNT) for vitamin D is 33, meaning one person would be spared from acute respiratory infection for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement. This evidence suggests that vitamin D supplementation is, at bare minimum, more than twice as effective as the flu vaccine. Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4.
Effectiveness of flu vaccine is typically below 50 percent
February 16, 2018, the CDC published interim estimates of the 2017/2018 seasonal influenza vaccine’s effectiveness for the U.S.47 The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness was 36 percent. Put another way, the vaccine did not work 64 percent of the time.
More precisely, vaccine effectiveness is estimated to be 25 percent effective against the A(H3N2) virus; 67 percent effective against A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses and 42 percent effective against influenza B viruses. In 2015, a CDC analysis48 revealed that, between 2005 and 2015, the flu vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time, so this year’s low effectiveness rating (36 percent) was no great surprise.
The Flucelvax vaccine introduced during the 2017-2018 flu season, grown in dog kidney cells rather than chicken eggs, was also a failure. Touted as a new-and-improved flu shot that would protect more people, FDA research found no significant difference between it and the conventional flu shot in protecting seniors.
While flu vaccines overall had a 24 percent effectiveness in preventing flu-related hospitalizations in people aged 65 and older, the Flucelvax vaccine had an effectiveness rate of only 26.5 percent in that population.49
Flu vaccine does not lessen influenza severity
While health officials are fond of saying that getting a flu shot will lessen your symptoms should you contract influenza, a 2017 study50 by French researchers, which aimed to assess the veracity of such claims, found it not to be true. Looking at data from vaccinated and unvaccinated elderly patients diagnosed with influenza, all they found was a reduction in initial headache complaints among those who had been vaccinated. According to the authors:
Flu vaccine is associated with serious disability
Permanent disability such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a risk you need to take into account each time you get a flu shot. As early as 2003, the CDC recognized the flu vaccine causes an excess of 1.7 cases of GBS per 1 million people vaccinated.51
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows GBS is the top injury for which people are receiving financial compensation through the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), and the flu vaccine is now the most common vaccine cited by adults seeking a vaccine injury compensation award.52
Shoulder damage is another risk, caused by improper injection technique.53,54,55 Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) includes chronic pain, limited range of motion, nerve damage, frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tears, and is typically the result of the injection being administered too high on the arm. This risk is particularly high when people get vaccinated outside of a doctor’s office or other clinical setting.
Many people getting flu shots in a public setting like a grocery store or pharmacy simply roll up their sleeves or pull down the top of their shirt, exposing only the upper part of their deltoid, thereby increasing the risk of getting the injection in the joint space rather than the muscle.
GBS and SIRVA were both added to the Vaccine Injury Table in 2017.56,57 By adding those vaccine complications to the table, vaccine-related GBS and SIRVA cases brought before the “Vaccine Court” in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., will be more likely to receive federal vaccine injury compensation.
In this lecture, immunologist Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D., author of “Vaccine Illusion: How Vaccination Compromises Our Natural Immunity and What We Can Do to Regain Our Health,” explains how vaccines damage your immune function, which can result in any number of adverse health effects.