Frequently Asked Questions

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Mercury Myths

Media Claims

Herd Immunity

Questions Media
Should Be Asking

CHD’s Vaccine
Safety Project

Mercury is Not Safe in Any Form: Debunking the Myths About Thimerosal “Safety

Q: What is Thimerosal?

A: Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines and other medicines. Developed by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in 1928, over the years Thimerosal has been used in a variety of medical products, including topical antiseptics, nasal sprays, eye drops, immune globulin products, and vaccines.

Myth: My doctor says vaccines don’t contain mercury anymore—that the Thimerosal has been phased out.

Fact: Thimerosal has not been removed from childhood vaccines.

In 2001 the Institute of Medicine reviewed the use of thimerosal containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders and recommended that thimerosal be removed from vaccines administered to sensitive populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) chose not to follow the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.

Today Thimerosal is still in approximately one third to one half of the flu vaccines produced annually and administered to pregnant women and infants (access the government’s list of Thimerosal-containing flu vaccines). This means that the developing fetus, as well as babies as young as six months, are being exposed to mercury in vaccines.

There is also Thimerosal in the diphtheria-tetanus vaccine and in one vaccine to protect against meningitis (access the government’s list of vaccine ingredients)

The CDC recommends flu shots for pregnant women, six-month olds, and children in every year of life. Pregnant women often instructed by their doctors to get two influenza vaccines if their pregnancy spans more than one flu season.

Myth: Thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines in 2003.

Fact: Thimerosal wasn’t so much removed as it was moved around.

Here’s how it worked: In 1999, after realizing that the cumulative amount of mercury a child was exposed to via vaccines had never been tallied, the Public Health Service (PHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers’ recommended Thimerosal be removal from all childhood vaccines. Thimerosal was then in three childhood vaccines: against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DTaP), against Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), and against hepatitis B.

However, instead of requiring immediate removal, the CDC allowed the pharmaceutical companies to save money by using up their inventories of mercury-containing vaccines.

By 2003, the industry had finally used up stocks of thimerosal-containing vaccines and Thimerosal is no longer used in these three vaccines.

At the same time mercury was finally phased out of the DTaP, Hib and Hep B vaccine, the CDC added the mercury-containing flu vaccine to the childhood schedule.

At that time, almost all flu vaccines contained 25 micrograms (mcgs) of mercury, recommended to children in every year of life.

Myth: If the CDC still allows Thimerosal in vaccines given to pregnant women, then it must be safe.

Fact: NO amount of mercury is safe for humans. Thimerosal-containing vaccines are especially unsafe for pregnant women.

Mercury is one of the most toxic substances known to man. Studies have also shown that thimerosal causes debilitating brain injuries and miscarriages when pregnant women have been exposed to mercury (methyl and ethyl) from accidental poisonings. The FDA has never tested or approved thimerosal for use in pregnancy.

Myth: But the ethyl mercury in Thimerosal is less toxic than the methyl mercury in fish. After all, humans can drink ethyl alcohol even though methyl alcohol is poisonous.

Fact: The science shows that ethyl mercury is actually more toxic than methyl mercury.

While this is a common argument, it is simply untrue. In order to exonerate thimerosal, its defenders sometimes parrot the debunked industry canard that “the ethyl mercury in thimerosal is less persistent in the body and therefore less toxic than methyl mercury in fish.” However, they cannot cite a single published scientific study to support this position. That’s because the science says the opposite. Ethyl mercury is 50 times more toxic than methyl mercury (Guzzi et al, 2012) and twice as persistent in the brain (Burbacher et al, 2005).

Myth: The dose makes the poison. There’s only a “trace amount” of mercury in the flu vaccine, which is too small to cause harm.

Fact: The term “trace amounts” means less than 1 microgram (mcg). Thimerosal-containing flu shots contain what in biochemical terms is actually a massive dose of mercury: 25 mcgs.

Why do I call that massive? Because the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum exposure limits for methyl mercury is .1 microgram (mcg) per 1 kilogram of bodyweight, which means a baby would have to weigh 550 pounds to safely absorb 25 mcgs of mercury. At these levels, a growing fetus in a mother receiving the flu shot could get up to a million times the EPA’s safe levels.

Myth: A trace amount of Thimerosal would not be harmful.

Fact: There is no known safe exposure level to mercury.

Even if the flu shot contained only 1 microgram (mcg), it would still be double the amount deemed safe by EPA for a nine-pound baby. Furthermore, the ethyl mercury in vaccines is fifty times more toxic and twice as persistent in the brain as the methyl mercury in fish for which EPA established those standards.

Myth: My doctor can’t get me a Thimerosal-free flu vaccine.

Fact: Flu vaccines without mercury are widely available.

Even though doctors continue to use multi-dose flu vaccines that contain Thimerosal, Thimerosal-free flu vaccines are available. People receiving flu vaccines should be able to request and receive Thimerosal-free vaccines. Unfortunately, some doctors insist that it is too inconvenient or too expensive to order Thimerosal-free vaccines. If your doctor refuses to give you a Thimerosal-free vaccine, find a different doctor.

Myth: It’s too difficult to remove Thimerosal from vaccines.

Fact: Thimerosal can be easily removed from vaccines.

Thimerosal was quickly and easily removed from the three childhood vaccines in the United States shortly after the CDC requested its removal.  Most European nations have also banned Thimerosal without any noticeable impact on vaccine cost or supply.

Myth: Epidemiological studies prove that Thimerosal was not a cause of brain damage or health problems in children.

Fact: Despite seriously flawed scientific studies designed to exonerate Thimerosal, there is ample epidemiological and clinical data showing it is toxic to children’s brains.

Studies conducted by the CDC have linked Thimerosal exposure with tics. Tics are a family of grave neurological injuries that include Tourette Syndrome. CDC’s senior vaccine safety scientist, William Thompson, Ph.D., himself told research scientist Brian Hooker, Ph.D., “I can say confidently I do think Thimerosal causes tics.”

The EPA says that epidemics in a broad inventory of neurodevelopmental injuries began in 1989, the same year that the CDC vaccine division increased mercury exposures to American children from 70 mcgs to 570 mcgs.

The EPA calls 1989 “The Gateway Year.” According to the CDC, one in every six American children now suffers from neurodevelopmental disorders.

We literally have hundreds of studies, like this one, this one, this one, and this one. No one who actually takes the time to examine the scientific literature can rationally conclude that mercury in any form is safe for humans.

Myth: The government has never admitted that Thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism.

Fact: In 2008 top public health officials at HHS conceded that vaccines caused autism.

In 2008 the family of eight-year-old Hannah Polling was compensated for autism due to vaccine injury. Since Hannah’s father was himself a doctor and her mother a nurse and a lawyer, this case garnered an unusual amount of attention. The government’s expert, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, said that the vaccines had caused a metabolic overload that triggered Hannah’s autism. The court ordered Hannah’s medical records and details about the case to be sealed.

However, the United States government has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to dozens of other vaccine-injured children with autism diagnoses, as detailed in this article published in the Pace Environmental Law Review.

Officials at the CDC and the FDA have also conceded that vaccines might cause autism. In 2008, the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of National Institutes of Health, said on CBS News: “We can’t dismiss a link between vaccines and autism because we have never studied the children who were fine and who suddenly lost learned skills and regressed into autism following vaccination.”

What’s a concerned parent to do?

As much as vested interests and government agencies that defend them spin false yarns, we all know that mercury is harming our planet and our children’s brains and bodies. As parents, environmental activists, and concerned citizens, we must demand the permanent removal of mercury from all vaccines.

Media Vaccine Safety Claims vs. Facts

We’re living in an age where parents increasingly report that their typically developing children declined cognitively and physically after receiving vaccines. Despite the sound science supporting these parent claims, government agencies and mainstream media continue issuing the now shopworn mantra that vaccines are “safe and effective” ignoring published research and even common sense that indicate otherwise.

Children’s Health Defense has put together a list of the most common misrepresentations in the vaccine safety debate and provided the facts and references that support the reality that vaccines can and do cause injuries including autism and many other adverse health outcomes.

Claim 1. Vaccines save lives.
Claim 2. Vaccines don’t cause autism.
Claim 3. All vaccines have been rigorously tested and are completely safe.
  • This is patently false. The reason Congress exempted vaccine makers from liability in 1986 was BECAUSE vaccines were causing harm. Since the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act went into effect, the federal government program has paid out 8 billion dollars in vaccine injuries and death.
  • In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.”
  • The current CDC pediatric schedule recommends children receive as many as ten vaccines all at the same office visit. The safety of combining vaccines, injecting aborted human fetal tissue and multiple toxins—including mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, animal and human DNA, and more—into infants and young children has not been tested.
  • There are no large-scale studies comparing health outcomes in vaccinated children vs. those who haven’t received vaccines. However, a recent peer-reviewed study found that vaccinated children had an increased risk of autism (4.2 times), ADHD (4.2 times), learning disabilities (5.2 times), eczema (2.9 times) and an astounding 30 times the risk of allergic rhinitis compared to unvaccinated children.
  • In 2016, the Vaccine Injury Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) collected 59,117 reports of adverse events from vaccines, including 432 deaths, 1091 permanent disabilities, 4,132 hospitalizations and 10,284 emergency room visits. According to HHS, the reported events are only 1% of the actual number. Therefore, the U.S is likely experiencing millions of adverse reactions from vaccines per year.
Claim 4. Vaccinations produce herd immunity and prevent dangerous, even deadly, diseases. Anti-vaxxers are causing epidemics and eroding the public trust.
  • Herd immunity cannot be achieved through vaccination if vaccines aren’t effective. The Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine is just one that isn’t working. Mumps cases in the U.S. have been on the rise in recent years with over 5,000 cases reported in 2016, more than any year in the past decade, and they are occurring in highly vaccinated populations. Recent outbreaks of disease in vaccinated populations are proving that all vaccines are not efficacious. Additionally, immunity from vaccines is usually temporary unlike the lifelong immunity typically produced by experiencing a childhood illness.
  • In 2010, two former Merck virologists filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Merck committed fraud in lying about the efficacy of the mumps component of their MMR vaccine. The suit, now in the hands of a federal judge, charges that Merck was aware of the declining efficacy of the mumps vaccine but still claimed it was 95% effective.
  • As the CDC continues to deny that there is a vaccine safety problem, studies show that the biggest impediment to broad vaccine acceptance and coverage is public mistrust of government regulators.
  • Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health, said that public distrust is growing because of inaction on the part of agencies regarding vaccine safety.
  • The only polio that is diagnosed now in America is the vaccine strain and those cases are compensated in Vaccine Court.
  • Ironically, many of today’s vaccines don’t actually prevent the vaccinated individual from harboring and transmitting the disease in question. This is true of pertussisdiphtheria, and as already noted, polio.
  • The death rate from measles as far back as 1922 was extremely low—4.3 in 100,000. Consider that this was nearly 100 years ago—before electric refrigerators, before washing machines, before antibiotics, and IV hydration, and the advances of modern medicine.
  • Eight years before the measles vaccine was introduced, children went to school, and even to Disneyland, which opened its doors in 1955, and mothers didn’t live in fear of routine illnesses like measles.
Claim 5. Thimerosal (ethyl mercury) was taken out of vaccines in 1999 and autism rates still continued to rise. Also, the ethyl mercury in vaccines is less toxic than methyl mercury.
  • Between 1999 and 2003, thimerosal was being gradually removed from the Hep B, Hib and DTaP vaccines. However, the exposure to thimerosal due to flu shots was simultaneously ramping up.  Flu shots were originally recommended for pregnant women in 1997 but, initially, uptake of these shots was low (only 12.4% by 2002).  In 2004, the CDC recommended flu shots for all pregnant women in any trimester.  By 2012-2013, uptake of flu shots during pregnancy had steadily increased to approximately 50%.  So, the children born after 2004 were increasingly likely to have been exposed to thimerosal in utero, and a lot of it.
  • Concurrently, in 2001, the CDC recommended flu vaccines for high-risk infants over six months of age.  In January 2003, the CDC recommended routine annual flu shots for all children starting at six months of age.  Coverage initially was very low.  In the 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 influenza seasons, only 4.4% and 8.4% of children, respectively, were fully vaccinated for flu.  In the 2004-2005 flu season, the childhood uptake rate had shot up to 48%.  In the years after the phase out of mercury in the Hep B, Hib, and DTaP, children were increasingly being exposed to thimerosal through flu shots.  In 2004, over 90% of the flu shot supply was preserved with thimerosal.
  • There is no justification for injecting mercury, a known neurotoxin, into anyone, but definitely not pregnant women and children. The developing fetus is especially vulnerable to mercury exposure because fetal cord blood mercury levels are typically about double the mother’s mercury blood levels. Approximately 36 million flu shots containing 25 mcgs. of mercury are in the supply for the 2017-2018 flu season.
  • A 2017 CDC study reviewing data from the 2010-11 and 2011-2012 flu seasons linked spontaneous abortions to flu vaccines, finding that women vaccinated with the inactivated influenza vaccine had 3.7-fold greater odds of spontaneous abortion within 23 days than women not receiving the vaccine. For women who received the H1N1 vaccine in both seasons covered in the study, the odds of spontaneous abortion in the 28 days after receving a flu vaccine was 7.7 times greater. The vast majority of flu vaccines available during the seasons studied were multi-dose formulations containing 25 mcgs. of mercury.
  • Meningococcal vaccines may still contain 25 mcgs of mercury from thimerosal. Using EPA guidelines for mercury exposure, an individual should weigh 550 lbs. to “safely” process this amount of mercury. Of course, this is based on the INGESTION of methyl mercury. No guidelines have been established for INJECTING any form of mercury. Thimerosal is still included in “trace amounts” in other vaccines.
  • Not only has thimerosal never been completely taken out of vaccines, but much more aluminum was—and continues to be—added, again with no scientific research to support the safety of doing so.
  • Despite claims made by vaccine pundits and repeated in the media, ethyl mercury found in vaccines is not safer than methyl mercury found in fish. A recent meta-analysis showed that inorganic mercury has a half-life in the brain of several years.  This is concerning since we know infant primates exposed to equal amounts of ethyl mercury compared to methyl mercury were found to have more than double the amount of inorganic mercury deposited into their brain tissue.
  • While it’s true that ethyl mercury clears the blood more quickly than methyl mercury, the organs of toxicity are the brain and kidneys. Ethyl mercury rapidly crosses into the brain where it gets trapped and is not easily excreted. Clearing the blood does not mean that the ethyl mercury has left the body.
  • Curiously, one division of the FDA has labeled thimerosal as not being “Generally Recognized As being Safe and Effective (GRASE), while another branch continues to allow the use of thimerosal in vaccines and over 130 prescription drugs.
Claim 6. The study by Wakefield claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been disproven. This study was retracted and the author discredited. Other MMR studies prove no link as well.
  • The Wakefield Lancet paper never claimed that the MMR causes autism. Wakefield presented case histories of 12 children with bowel disease and autistic regression their parents claimed occurred after the MMR shot. Wakefield called for more study. From the conclusion: We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.
  • Since the paper’s retraction, senior level CDC scientist turned whistleblower Dr. William Thompson said that a 2004 CDC study found an association with the MMR and the onset of autism in African-American boys and in children with no other developmental concerns before the vaccine, a condition they termed “isolated autism.” Thompson submitted thousands of documents to Congressman Bill Posey of Florida in 2014 regarding his claims. Subsequently, Congressman Posey made a statement from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives saying, in part: 

Regardless of the subject matter, parents making decisions about their children’s health deserve to have the best information available to them. They should be able to count on federal agencies to tell them the truth…In August 2014, Dr. William Thompson, a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, worked with a whistleblower attorney to provide my office with documents related to a 2004 CDC study that examined the possibility of a relationship between [the] mumps, measles, rubella vaccine and autism. In a statement released in August, 2014, Dr. Thompson stated, ‘I regret that my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics.’ 

Since 2014, requests to allow Dr. William Thompson to testify have been denied by the CDC.

Claim 7. Autism is genetic, not environmental. There is no epidemic because changing diagnostic criteria explains the rise.
  • There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic and diagnostic substitution cannot account for the skyrocketing numbers of children now diagnosed with autism.
  • What we can glean from the science is that autism requires an environmental trigger to cause the epidemic increases we’re seeing in not only autism, but ADHD, tics, allergies and a laundry list of other childhood disorders that we have not seen in past generations.
  • Researchers have been searching for the elusive autism gene for decades and still haven’t found it despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars in their pursuit. There may be as many as 1,000 genes involved in autism risk and many of the most promising genetic findings are acquired mutations that point to environmental factors as the cause of the mutations. The expansion of genetic studies has found that, in families who have two children diagnosed with autism, the siblings often don’t share the same gene changes, which has raised the possibility that the disorder isn’t inherited even when it runs in families. This begs the question of shared environmental factors or risk conditions.
  • One of the largest twin studies to date published in 2011 also found the role of the environment has been underestimated.  The study found that the children’s environment represents more than 1/2 the susceptibility: 55% in severe autism and 58% in the broader spectrum, while genetics was involved in 37% and 38% of the risk respectively.
  • We often hear that autism starts in utero because initial studies that looked at abnormal brain growth associated with autism reported the abnormalities occurred prenatally, but that work has been challenged by Harvard researchers who used advanced imaging techniques and reported that the brain overgrowth was being driven by the white matter of the brain.  The observed overgrowth of the white matter occurred after birth and may be related to the process of myelination. The white matter overgrowth was also seen in infants with developmental language disorders, which is often one of the first symptoms of autism in children.
Claim 8. The United States already has a vaccine safety commission.
  • Any appearance of vaccine safety efforts made by the CDC and its pundits is a facade. A government agency charged with ensuring high vaccination uptake in the population should not be entrusted to ensure that vaccines are as safe as possible.
  • The CDC is in the vaccine business, a tremendous conflict of interest when that same agency is tasked with promoting mass-scale vaccination. According to a 2003 UPI Investigation, the CDC held 28 vaccine licensing agreements at that time. In 2017, another analysis found that the CDC now holds at least 57 patents related to vaccines.
  • Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, who determine vaccine recommendations, are allowed to have financial conflicts, some even profiting from the vaccine decisions the committee recommends.
  • The revolving door between the CDC and the vaccine industry is blatant and has gone unchecked for decades.
Claim 9. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is an “anti-vaxxer.”
  • This type of bullying terminology is an attempt to censor opinion and silence debate. There are very real problems with vaccine safety, efficacy, pharmaceutical influence in public interest decision making and policy, and conflicts of interest among the regulators of our government agencies expected to protect Americans from harm. That is the story that needs to be covered. Name calling does nothing to advance the discussion of these critical issues.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ensured that all of his six children were fully vaccinated. But when he read the independent, peer-reviewed research linking vaccines with serious health conditions and talked to pharmaceutical and government “experts”, he was convinced that mercury was driving the epidemic of neurological and immunological injuries impacting today’s children in numbers never before seen in history.
  • Kennedy was also concerned over the lack of true vaccine safety science. The few existing CDC safety studies are rife with errors and additionally, CDC whistleblower William Thompson claims some of them to be fraudulent.
  • Proclaiming that Mr. Kennedy is “anti-vaccine” effectively dismisses not only what tens of thousands of parents have witnessed but also what a growing amount of published, reputable science is bearing out. He wants trustworthy regulators who will actually do their jobs in protecting the health of our nation’s citizens.
Claim 10. Unvaccinated people make others sick. Vaccines should be mandatory with no philosophical, medical or religious exemptions.
  • History shows us that vaccinated people can also spread diseases and infections. This is well illustrated by the 2016Harvard mumps outbreak and the 2017 mumps outbreak at Syracuse University wherein all people diagnosed with mumps had received both recommended doses of the MMR vaccine. As mentioned above, according to two former Merck virologists who worked on the mumps portion of the MMR, the mumps vaccine is not effective.
  • In addition to the lack of efficacy in vaccines such as the MMR, vaccines made with live viruses such as MMR, chicken pox, rotavirus, influenza, and shingles can causeshedding of the viruses to the close contacts of  those vaccinated. When it comes to the safety and well-being of their children, parents and caregivers have every right to pose questions, no matter the topic. Parents research the safest car seats, cribs, strollers and everything else that involves their children. Vaccines should also be on the table for questioning, researching, discussing, or criticizing. And if parents decide to refuse vaccines for their children, those decisions should be respected.
  • “One size fits all” is a questionable policy when it comes to medical treatment. Knowledgeable doctors realize that there isn’t a single medical procedure that works well for the entire population—and that includes vaccines. Published science also supports the fact that some people with genetic predispositions or biological susceptibilities should not have vaccines.  We desperately need more research in this area so we can identify those likely to be harmed so we can modify their vaccine schedule. Have we traded acute childhood illness for lifelong chronic disease? The American public is become increasingly aware of the rapid decline in the health of our nation’s children and are worried that the ever-expanding childhood vaccine schedule—that has tripled since the 1980’s—may be responsible for the current epidemic of serious childhood health conditions.  These concerns are warranted given the fact that over half of the children in this country—54%—now have a chronic health condition.
  • It’s clear that American children today comprise the sickest generation in the history of our country. As evidence mounts that adverse reactions to vaccines are contributing to many cases of developmental disabilities and chronic illnesses, vaccine mandates are, at best, inappropriate. In fact, mandated vaccines are in direct opposition to informed consent, the number one tenet of the Nuremberg Code: The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

Herd Immunity: Myths and Facts

Myth: All children (the herd) need to be vaccinated to protect all.
By: JB Handley

If you still need more convincing that public health officials and vaccine makers will mislead the public, please consider the fable of “Herd Immunity,” the oft-cited reason that everyone needs to get themselves vaccinated. If most people (“the herd”) are vaccinated against an illness, the common story goes, then the herd is protected from that disease. In many cases, pediatricians and talking heads will get very specific about herd immunity, citing important-sounding statistics that say vaccination rates on certain diseases must stay above a certain percentage of people in order to have herd immunity. Drop below that threshold? It’s a recipe for disaster. When there was an “epidemic” of measles (it wasn’t actually an epidemic, just a very minor and typical outbreak) at Disneyland a few years ago, experts were often quoted on T.V. saying the herd immunity threshold for measles vaccine was 95%, meaning 95% of the population needed to be vaccinated against measles in order to prevent “epidemics.”

Perhaps no one has beaten the herd immunity drum more loudly than California State Senator Richard Pan, the author and sponsor of a bill that made California the third state in the union (Mississippi and West Virginia are the other two) to make vaccinations mandatory for children’s school attendance. In fact, he used the Disneyland measles outbreak as the reason his bill needed to be passed. In a recent missive to his constituents, Senator Pan noted that his 2015 bill was raising kindergarten vaccination rates and bragged, “this success is a first step toward reducing the number of unimmunized people putting our families at risk for preventable diseases, thereby restoring community immunity throughout our state in the coming years.”

Let’s look at Senator Pan’s words carefully. “Restoring community immunity” has several implications. Firstly, it implies that California had somehow “lost” community immunity (which is a non-scientific synonym for herd immunity) at some point. Secondly, “restoring” community immunity implies that until vaccination rates hit a certain threshold, grave risks will be present—restoration of safety is a top priority! What’s painfully absurd about Senator Pan’s convictions about the importance of herd immunity and of hitting certain vaccination targets is that the United States has never been close to achieving herd immunity for any vaccine-preventable disease for two simple reasons: 1), The overwhelming majority of adults in the United States are not up-to-date on their vaccines; and 2), The efficacy of vaccines to prevent disease wanes over time, meaning protection from a vaccine “wears out,” typically in 10 years or less.

To put this in perspective, there are roughly 150 million adults in the United States walking around with no vaccine-provided protection from many diseases that we are supposed to have met herd immunity thresholds for, because most adults are not up to date on their vaccines, and most vaccines “wear-off” in 10 years or less (it’s called “protection waning”). The CDC surveys adults every year, so it’s easy enough to find vaccination coverage rates, and they are well-below anything that resembles herd immunity, here’s just a few: Hepatitis A (9%), Hepatitis B (24.5%), Pneumococcal (20.4%), and Influenza (43.2%). These adults work in schools (where they don’t have the same immunization requirements as children), work in restaurants, work in stores, and are in every community, which means we are nowhere close to herd immunity, and never have been. When people like Senator Pan pat themselves on the back for protecting society by re-establishing herd immunity, what they are saying has absolutely no basis in fact. None. With so many people unvaccinated, where are all the crippling epidemics?

In a recent article in the Congressional newspaper The Hill titled, “If only half of America is properly vaccinated, where are the epidemics?” The article was written by Gretchen DuBeau, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Natural Health. She writes, “While herd immunity may not exist, herd mentality most definitely does. Health authorities, media commentators, and schools and their parent–teacher associations waste no opportunity in perpetuating this myth. Proponents have done such a thorough job of convincing the public that a parent who questions it is treated like someone who thinks the earth is flat or believes climate change is a conspiracy. On the contrary: an unprejudiced view of the science about vaccines, and an examination of history, clearly show that the herd immunity theory is—and always has been—flawed.”

Surprisingly, the vaccination rates amongst American children for the three primary vaccines given in the 1960s and 1970s were far lower than today’s vaccination rates. For example, in 1977, the vaccination rate for DTP, Polio, and MMR was 69%, 62%, and 65%, respectively. By 1991, those numbers were 69%, 53%, and 82%. Much as the question is asked of adults today, where were all the childhood epidemics in 1977 and 1991 with such “low” vaccination rates? They didn’t exist.

Politicians stand up in front of their colleagues, pound the table, and advocate passing mandatory vaccination laws to “preserve herd immunity.” Pediatricians get on T.V. and explain how critical it is that we all “maintain herd immunity.” And, yet, the notion of herd immunity is absurd when you look at the facts and data.

In retrospect, I did so little research before allowing my boys to be vaccinated, I swallowed all these false narratives as fact and I knew so little about the medical procedures we were putting them through on their first day of life, and then again at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months. Many people don’t even consider a vaccine appointment a “medical procedure,” but that’s exactly what it is, and it’s a procedure that can cause serious harm to a baby. I also had no idea how recently the number of vaccines given to kids had skyrocketed. The truth is out there for any parent willing to look at the facts.

Questions Media Should Be Asking and the Facts

By: Kathleen Kennedy

There are two mantras of old school journalism that appear to have gone the way of the rotary phone: 1) Never believe the first answer, and 2) When in doubt, check it out. In the early 1980s when I began my career in television news, even a shred of doubt was enough for us to whip out the journalistic shovel and commence digging. Woodward and Bernstein were our idols, the unrelenting model of perfection to which we all aspired. We were trained to ask the questions with one eyebrow up. Skepticism was a badge of honor. We didn’t seek the fleeting “ah-hah” moments of today’s reporting, we sought truth. There was no cutting and pasting in haste to get a story before the competition.

Don’t get me wrong. We did strive to get the story first, but we also did the actual legwork to get it right. Just ONE wrong move could cost your employer its credibility, and in a field that lacked the competition journalists have today, it was more noticeable. THAT was unthinkable. But in the wake of a 24-hour news cycle and countless competitors in print, internet and television, the bar we once held high found itself inches above ground. Never was that more apparent to this old schooler than this past February at a news conference for the Children’s Health Defense at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Our aim was to enlighten the media on the doubts we have in the integrity of the science related to our nation’s vaccines. However, if I had any doubts about the state of integrity of journalism today, those doubts were solidified at that very press conference.

You think the media is guilty of bad journalism. Why?

There are some telltale signs.

Let me take you back a moment and explain how I became affiliated with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Children’s Health Defense. It was on a ski lift in Aspen, Colorado, during Christmas vacation last year when I noticed I was sitting beside Kennedy. We began to talk about the beautiful weather as one often does on a ski lift, and I asked him if he was still doing his water conservation work. He replied, “Yes, and I’m also working on vaccines now.” He proceeded to express his concerns about mercury, one of the world’s most toxic substances, still used as a preservative (thimerosal) in vaccines. Kennedy questioned why it was still being injected into human beings despite the fact that mercury is 100 times more lethal than lead. He continued to explain the relationship between mercury and autism, as well as the doubts he has in the integrity of the so-called definitive science on the matter. As I listened to his passion on the subject, I began to recall the stories I had read. The correlation between autism and thimerosal had been “debunked,” hadn’t it? It might have been easy for this conservative to dismiss Kennedy’s premise, especially considering I have rarely agreed with his politics. But as he continued to speak about the whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson (the co-author of one of those “definitive” studies), and other holes in the related science, it was apparent this was going to be a David and Goliath effort. Kennedy could be entirely off base, but what if he was right? What if there really was something to it? The old instincts kicked in. The eyebrow went up.

There are telltale signs of bad journalism, all of which I witnessed at the D.C. press conference that day. The most obvious is the repetition of phrases among various news outlets. It’s not uncommon to see like words and phrases often repeated among news stories. As a writer, I find that strange at best, lacking in creativity at worst. None of us uses the same language to describe a single event.  This is a sign that a “journalist” is borrowing canned talking points, planted by whomever they interviewed – or they have simply copied and pasted from a previously written story. Most, it seems, are not smart enough to catch it or perhaps too busy to care. I often wonder if they go to a room after a news conference and collectively decide what words they are going to use. In the case of the mercury/autism story, those common phrases are “widely debunked” and “definitive science.”  Google it and see for yourself. You’ll find other consistently repeated phrases as well.

Another telltale sign is the labeling of the messenger. Powerful entities, such as the pharmaceutical lobby or politicians, will spew out labels in an effort to shut down conversation, with the full expectation that the journalist will latch onto the label and regurgitate it. This is often a tactic a novice or less talented reporter will miss. It was glaringly obvious in D.C.  Kennedy took painstaking measures to explain that he was not “anti” vaccine, but was, in fact, “pro” vaccine. Yet, in every story written, the label “anti-vaxxer” was readily used to describe this man who spent at least five minutes of his speech describing how he had vaccinated ALL SIX of his kids! So why is he continually called an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist? How can that be?  Did the reporters write the story BEFORE the press conference? One has to wonder.

Why is the media ignoring the seeds of doubt?

Doubt is a funny thing. For some, it’s easy to dismiss. Exploring the possibilities takes effort, after all. For those who truly seek knowledge, doubt is an undeniable catalyst. Curiosity overwhelms us and drives our desire to know. Where is that kind of curiosity today? There are questions about our nation’s health not being asked, particularly with regard to vaccinations. If a reporter readily accepts what the medical establishment feeds them, God help journalism.

There is plenty of ammunition for doubt in the medical establishment on this subject. The conflicts of interest are impossible to ignore. For example: Why would the public believe the CDC, when it owns 50+ patents on vaccines and takes in more than $4 billion a year by distributing vaccines? Or pharmaceutical companies, when they are part of a $4.1 TRILLION industry? Or government, when there are more big pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill than Congressman and Senators COMBINED? These questions should be the seeds of doubt necessary to get a truly curious person interested. At least one would hope.

Questions the Media Need to Ask on Vaccine Safety and Scientific Integrity
  • Why was thimerosal taken out of most childhood vaccines, if it is allegedly safe? Many vaccines still contain “trace amounts” of mercury, 1 mcg or less per dose, according to the FDA. Why would it be added to vaccines in any amount when there is no known “safe level” of mercury exposure?
  • With regard to the amount of mercury still used in many flu vaccines (25 mcg), what study shows that it is safe for pregnant mothers or infants when, according to the EPA, it would require a 550 pound person to process that much mercury? Given this information, why does mercury remain in 48 million doses of flu vaccines recommended by the CDC for infants, children, and pregnant mothers?
  • If thimerosal is safe to inject into pregnant women, why is it listed in California under Proposition 65 as a reproductive toxicant?
  • Why is the mainstream media not reporting on whistleblower and CDC scientist William Thompson’s claims of vaccine/autism research fraud?  And why has Thompson not been subpoenaed by Congress?
  • Why have vaccines never been tested for carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, or impairment of fertility, despite the fact they contain ingredients recognized as potential carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxicants?
  • Why does the CDC only assess the efficacy of vaccines in preventing infectious disease and never assess the potential long-term effects?
  • Why has the CDC refused to compare the overall health of vaccinated children compared to unvaccinated children?
  • Why are vaccines not required to undergo the same rigorous safety testing required for other prescription products?
  • Why does our government continue to promote vaccines as safe and effective when it has paid out more than $3.6 billion to families of vaccine-injured children through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program? Why does our government claim vaccines don’t cause autism when we know at least 83 of those claims are linked to autism and vaccines?
  • Why is it only optional for doctors and parents to report vaccine injuries given the gravity of many injuries and the potential to save others from harm?
  • Why does the CDC assume that every vaccine has a greater benefit than risk for every child?
  • Lastly, why has there been vehement pushback from health organizations and even members of Congress on the formation of a Vaccine Safety Commission, an entity that would help ensure the integrity of our vaccines? What are they afraid of? That alone is enough for me. The intensity and speed with which they respond to even the slightest mention of a formal commission should alarm anyone.
Why do journalist disregard the personal testimonies of thousands of parents?

The Children’s Health Defense solicited emails from parents telling their stories of vaccine injury. Within a few days, more than 6,000 letters poured in. They were heart-wrenching stories of horrific injury and even death to children who had been healthy prior to vaccination. One moment their child was a robust and typical lively kid and within days or even hours of vaccination, there was loss of eye contact, head banging, speech loss, excruciating headaches and declining cognitive ability. The stories were remarkably consistent. These phenomena are not anecdotal, they’re epidemic.

For the parents of vaccine-injured kids, these unanswered questions are haunting and ongoing. The helplessness they feel as parents and lack of help they receive from the media eat at their spirits like a bloodthirsty leech.

When it comes to our nation’s kids, our most treasured asset, should journalists look the other way? Ignore the incertitude?  When in doubt about a matter as important as children’s health, should they take the first answer (and chances) or should they exhaust EVERY. SINGLE. POSSIBILITY and seek the truth?  It’s time for REAL journalists to step forward.  Go against the grain. Stand up to the powerful. Be willing to lose your job in the effort if that is what it takes to get answers. REAL answers. The nation’s kids are so worth it.

Vaccine Safety Project — Q&As

By: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Background: In February 2017, a team of researchers led by Dr. Peter Aaby (one of the world’s foremost authorities on vaccines, particularly vaccines in Africa,) published a study of the DTP vaccine, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. This is the most popular vaccine in the world and a vaccine that’s given to virtually every vaccinated child in Africa. They concluded “All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis.” But the things that the vaccinated children were dying of, were things you would never associate with vaccines. What the scientists concluded was that the vaccine, while it was protecting children from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, had wrecked their immune system so that they were dying of these unrelated illnesses.

Q: Is there a surveillance system in this country that would send off an alarm if the same thing was happening here from our current vaccine program?

A: The central mechanism for post-licensing vaccine safety surveillance is called the VAERS system, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. In 2016 alone VAERS said that 59,117 Americans were injured by vaccines but according to HHS, this number represents fewer than 1% of adverse events which are reported. If we were actually capturing all vaccine injuries that number would be close to six million Americans injured by vaccines every year.

In 2010, the HHS commissioned a study to determine whether it was feasible to automate the VAERS system, so they hired an outside consulting group who came in and automated a system for one of the HMOs. That study confirmed these levels of vaccine injury.

What they found, when they looked at how many people were actually getting injured, a true number, not reported by volunteers, but taken from medical records, of the 376,452 individuals who were vaccinated, 35,000 of them had some kind of adverse reaction. That’s one in ten.

Q: That one in ten number is very, very far from the one in a million number that the industry commonly uses when it talks about vaccine injury. And it’s a number that most public health officials and most Americans would consider completely unacceptable. Does the public know this?

A: No. The consultant group looking at medical records and inputting the data never an opportunity to perform system performance assessments because the necessary CDC contacts were no longer available. So, instead of expanding the system nationwide, they shut it down. The CDC literally stopped answering the phone calls for those consultants. They had bad news and the CDC didn’t want to hear it.

Q: So the public is unaware of potential vaccine injuries, but aren’t vaccines safety tested to assure that this can’t happen here?

A: In every other sector in this country, it’s the manufacturer and distributor of the product who is responsible for safety and, of course, that responsibility and that liability keeps the company concerned and focused on safety.

In 1986, Congress passed the Vaccine Act and gave blanket immunity to vaccine companies for injuries caused by vaccines and being “liability free” means there’s no incentive among vaccine manufacturers to conduct safety studies. In fact, there’s a disincentive because there’s a provision in the Vaccine Act that says essentially that the only way that a manufacturer can be liable is if they know of a side effect from that vaccine and they fail to warn. So, their incentive is to do everything that they can to not learn of any side effects.

Q: So, if the manufacturers have been lifted of any responsibility for vaccine safety, well, who’s responsible?

A: The Vaccine Act did not want to leave a vacuum. So it said that HHS is responsible, Health and Human Services Department and that specifically FDA, CDC, NIH and Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) would be the agencies responsible.

Q: The FDA says, “Vaccines undergo rigorous and extensive testing “to determine their safety.” Is that true?

A: There are two stages before a vaccine comes to market. First, the FDA has to license the vaccine. Then CDC has to add it to the schedule. The FDA is the agency that is in charge of the initial step of licensing the vaccine.

Now, for most other drugs, the safety testing is, indeed, rigorous and that kind of testing takes several thousand people who are given the drug and then the same number of people who, usually similarly situated people, who are given a pill that looks exactly like that drug but it’s inert and neither the researchers nor the patients know which ones got the saline drug and which ones got the real drug, so it’s double blind.

Then the researchers look at both of those groups for typically five years and they look at health outcomes and that’s how they figure out whether or not the drug is safe. Vaccines, however, are characterized by FDA not as drugs, but as biologics, and that gives FDA the capacity to fast track them without all of that rigorous and bothersome testing.

For example, there are the two hepatitis B vaccines that are approved for one-day-old children. The safety review period was four days.  That means if a baby had a seizure and died on the fifth day, it never happened, it wouldn’t ever be reported, no one will ever know because they only look at them for four days. Here’s some more examples, the Hib vaccines … the Sanofi Pasteur version had the longest safety review period. It got 30 days. The others got three or four days. And look what they were tested against, not a placebo. One was tested against six vaccines at the same time. The polio vaccine for two-month-old children, had a safety review period of only 48 hours. Look at the placebo group, they tested against the DTP vaccine.

Q: So if they are only testing vaccines for a few days in some instances, how can the FDA declare them safe?

A: The only thing that we’re left with to determine whether vaccines are safe are post-licensing surveillance studies, and that leads us back to the woefully inadequate VAERS system (mentioned above.) {anchor back up to VAERS}

Q: Why are you the only one talking about this? Why should we believe you?

A: It’s not just me saying that, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), top scientists in the country, who are brought together to review the vaccine safety science at HHS, reviewed one vaccine in 1991—DPT. They found that there were 22 injuries or diseases such as Meningitis, neurological damage, learning disabilities, and autoimmune disorders that had been reported to be caused by that vaccine. The existing literature–the scientific literature– acknowledged that six of those 22 diseases were, in fact, caused by the DTP. With four of those 22 diseases, the literature rejected causation. But look at this number, with 12 of those diseases, there was no literature. It had never been studied.

Because of the lack of science, they were handicapped in being able to make any kind of assessment about whether this vaccine was dangerous or safe.

In 1994, IOM came back and looked at four other vaccines, they found that there were 54 illnesses that had been reported to be associated with those vaccines. But for 38 of those 54, there was no literature. It simply had never been studied. So, the IOM here is saying, “We don’t have “the ability to assess the safety of vaccines “because the science simply doesn’t exist.”

Q: That was a long time ago. What’s been done recently?

A: 17 years later, in 2011, IOM came back again. This time they reviewed four other vaccines and came back with a 700-page report. 155 conditions were reported. For 134 we don’t know, and nobody knows, if the vaccines are causing that epidemic because we don’t have the science to reject that hypothesis. This report dealt with an injury that we’ve all heard about and that there’s a lot of controversy about, which is autism.

Q: Did they determine whether the DTP vaccine can cause autism?

A: What they found at the end of that report was that the evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between DTP and autism.

They couldn’t find any study of the relationship between DTP and autism, but in fact, they acknowledge in the first paragraph, they did find that there was one study out there, but that study found that DTP does cause autism. IOM decided to reject that study because it provided data from a passive surveillance system and lacked an unvaccinated comparison population.

The system that it relied on, was the VAERS system. It’s HHS’s own system, and what IOM is saying here is HHS is so slovenly and reckless at gathering data on vaccine safety that we cannot use the one system that they have because it’s so unreliable.

In 2008 Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of NIH, stated if we really want to know the safety profile of individual vaccines and the vaccine schedule, there’s one study that we need in order to do that.  That is a vaccinated versus unvaccinated study.

Q: Has a vaccinated versus unvaccinated study been done?

A:  No, but good news is that CDC has the database with a capacity to do that study. The CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink has the health records and the vaccination records of 10 million people including hundreds of thousands of children.

Q: And why is the CDC not conducting these obvious kinds of studies?

A: Well, maybe it’s because they don’t like the results when those kinds of studies are conducted. This is a CDC study that was done in 1999 secretly of its own vaccine safety database. What they found was astonishing. It looked at children who had received thimerosal vaccines and compared those to children who had not and what they found was that kids who had received the thimerosal vaccine had 1100% greater risk of receiving an autism diagnosis. CDC never published this version of the study, never let the public know about these risks and effectively closed the vaccine safety database to almost any independent researcher.

Q: Why aren’t they doing what’s best for the health of our children?

A: The governmental groups that are assigned with the responsibility of licensing the vaccines and adding them to the schedules are bedeviled by massive conflicts of interest that incentivize them to overlook that lack of scientific safety data.

The FDA is charged with the initial licensing phase of the vaccines, and the specific committee charged with that responsibility is the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC.) There was an investigation of VRBPAC by the US Government Reform Committee of Congress and here’s what they found, is that, “The overwhelming majority of members, “both voting members and consultants, “have substantial ties to the pharmaceutical industries,” which is making huge profits on those vaccines.

Here are the specific conflicts that Congress found at FDA:

  • Three of the five FDA advisory committee members who voted to approve the rotavirus vaccine in December had financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.
  • One of the five voting members had a $9 million contract for a rotavirus vaccine One of the five voting members was the principal investigator for a Merck grant to develop a rotavirus vaccine.
  • One of the five voting members received approximately one million dollars from vaccine manufacturers toward vaccine development.

Once FDA licensed the vaccine, then it goes over to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and they decide whether or not to add that vaccine to the schedule. In 2000, an investigation by the US Government Reform Committee of the United States Congress found the same kind of conflicts of interest in CDC as they had initially found in FDA.

  • CDC granted blanket waivers to ACIP members that allowed them to deliberate on any subject, regardless of their conflicts of interest, for the entire year.
  • ACIP routinely used working groups where pharma insiders would effectively craft vaccine policy. ACIP reflects a system where government officials make crucial decisions affecting American children without the advice and consent of the governed.
  • The chairman of the advisory committee served on Merck’s immunization advisory board.
  • Another was a consultant for Merck, shared the patent on a vaccine under development for the very same disease that he voted on and he had a $350,000 grant from Merck to develop this vaccine.
Q: It’s been almost 20 years, has anything changed?

A:  In 2009, the HHS Inspector General conducted a new investigation and here’s what they found, CDC had a systematic lack of oversight. There were no changes.

  • 97% of committee members’ conflict disclosures had omissions. 58% had at least one unidentified potential conflict.
  • CDC has an $11.5 billion budget and look, almost $5 billion of that is allocated to purchase and promote vaccines and only $20 million to study vaccine safety. That pays for a couple of studies.
  • CDC effectively is a vaccine company. It owns 56 vaccine patents.
  • The scientists who work for FDA and the CDC can receive royalties of $150,000 a year on vaccines that they develop.

Plus, the CDC’s director from 2002-2009, when many of these vaccines were approved, was Julie Gerberding. She oversaw numerous vaccine studies, many of which were recently deemed unreliable by IOM, and in 2010, a year after leaving the CDC, she because the President of Merck’s vaccines division with an estimated 2.5 million in annual salary and lucrative stock options.

Q: Is there any recourse?

A: We need to make sure that the conflicts are removed from the regulators who are making decisions over our vaccines. And that the vaccines that our children get are as safe as they can possibly be. That the science is strong and robust.

And none of that is possible unless we first do these things:

  • Require all vaccines go through the same rigorous approval process as other drugs.
  • Require mandatory reporting of vaccine adverse events and that means automating the VAERS and the VSD database.
  • Require everyone involved with Federal vaccine approvals and recommendations process be free from conflicts of interest.
  • Reevaluate all vaccines recommended by the ACIP prior to the adoption of evidence-based guidelines.
  • We need science-based policymaking.
  • Study what makes some individuals more susceptible to vaccine injury and we need to work to do the real science to identify the other subsets that have not yet been characterized.
  • Support fully informed consent and individual rights to refuse vaccination. We live in America, part of our tradition is informed consent. We know that vaccines are a risky medical intervention and parents should not be removed from the debate over the rights of their children to receive or not receive a vaccine.