At this point in this BOOK, the discussion about safety now diverges from the standard – from a safety aspect which is measurable. Drug safety and efficacy (effectiveness) is a measurable thing that can be tested in a clinical setting, BUT, there is also a safety factor that cannot be measured, a factor that is affected by general, immeasurable influences. A drug’s use is affected by the following factors:
Recognizing that, a drug’s use, its overuse or improper use, sometimes results from its accepted-ness within society. All of that plays a role in its SAFETY. In this next series of posts, I will be providing information related to this more obscure and immeasurable area of safety.
In the previous article, I highlighted a comparison of two researchers who have each experienced a very different reality when it comes to how their research / life circumstance are reported. But even if you look very critically there, at what has happened in the reporting of Poul Thorsen and Andrew Wakefield, the reality is that a significant part of this story (the part that has affected these men) still needs explaining. If you are going to fully believe the possibility that there is legitimate and incredible bias occurring in media coverage, and if you are going to believe the extent by which this bias is occurring, that now, it is propaganda, then you also have to understand WHY and HOW this is happening. Without understanding why and how, then all of this just seems impossible.
So first, to explain WHY – WHY is there such bias in vaccine reporting? That answer has at least three parts. I say at least three, because there may be many more influences that I am currently unaware of.
The first reason why this is happening is because of what I explained in Safety & Efficacy - Part 3. That article explained what the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Instructed in their June 1, 1984 meeting. That instruction was:
…any possible doubts, whether or not well founded, about the safety of the vaccine cannot be allowed to exist in view of the need to assure that the vaccine will continue to be used to the maximum extent consistent with the nation’s public health objectives….
That statement clearly admits that censorship and propaganda must be used, to "educate" the public. As I've said before, if well founded vaccine safety issues cannot be allowed to exit, what do you think our doctors are taught, during their medical educations. Do you think the lesson plans and text books they learn from are propaganda free?
That DHHS instruction was stated in a slightly different way 26 years later, in 2010, by Kathleen Sebelius, the then Secretary of the DHHS (she served from 2009-2014). In an interview she gave for Reader's Digest, she explained that equal weight must not be given to vaccine critics. To quote her (emphasis mine):
There are groups out there that insist that vaccines are responsible for a variety of problems despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. We [the DHHS] have reached out to media outlets, to try and get them to not give the views of THESE PEOPLE equal weight in their reporting to what SCIENCE has shown and continues to show, about the safety of vaccines…
Kathleen Sebelius’ quote exposes the fact that Government has actually asked media outlets to implement censorship, to not give a platform to the vaccine hesitant, to not allow a public discussion which engages people who express their vaccine criticisms. Recognizing that mainstream vaccine reporting is almost always vaccine supportive, it's obvious this official request to censor has been acted upon. And as a result of HHS' 2010 request, media outlets are now acting as the "censorship police," taking it upon themselves to attack Amazon for not censoring. As a consequence of the attack, some books and documentaries are no longer available. It seems the book burning has begun. A CNN article states:
Amazon has apparently started removing anti-vaccine documentaries from its Amazon Prime Video streaming service. The move came days after a CNN Business report highlighted the anti-vaccine comment available on the site, and hours after Rep. Adam Schiff wrote an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, saying he is concerned “that Amazon is surfacing and recommending” anti-vaccination books and movies.
Anti-vaccine movies that were previously available free for Prime subscribers, like “We Don’t Vaccinate!,” “Shoot ‘Em Up: The Truth About Vaccines,” and “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” are now “currently unavailable.”
And it's not just Amazon, Pinterest is deleting accounts, Etsy is refusing to sell products, Google, Bing, and Yahoo are reindexing search results, Instagram is banning accounts and hashtags, and YouTube is demonetizing videos, GoFundMe is refusing "anti-vax" groups to raise funds. This is likely just the beginning.
If you look at Kathleen Sebelius' quote again, it highlights one of the most dangerous fallacies in the whole debate. She relates the vaccine debate as happening between two camps:
CAMP 1) “these people” - a group the media has labeled "anti-vax," and
CAMP 2) “all science”
The conclusion she wants people to draw here is that to be vaccine critical or vaccine cautious, one has to be in opposition with all science. This message is emphasized world wide, the British Health Secretary has recently been quoted as saying, "people who campaign against vaccination are campaigning against science." To state that those who are vaccine risk aware are against science, implies that they are anti-science. And if one is anti-science then the inference here is that these people idiots.
The way the media and bloggers report the intelligence of "anti-vaxxers," an inaccurate, derogatory, and broad term used to describe anyone who publicly expresses even the slightest vaccine hesitancy, makes it very clear that we "anti-vaxxers" can't get any stupider. I once watched a news piece that compared our intelligence to that of a dead tree stump.
So, in light of that, if we truly are as stupid as they describe us to be, I say this. WHY do they insist on reporting the ridiculous fears that we anti-vaxxers have, on our behalf, "for" us? Really think about that. They never request to interview an idiot anti-vax doctor in their news clips or on talk shows, to hear those ridiculous and stupid comments come right from the horse's mouth. If "these people" are truly as ridiculous and stupid as the Government and media describe them to be, interviewing those idiots would do nothing BUT STRENGTHEN the vaccine campaign. And listening to the ridiculousness of these iditos would be wildly entertaining! No? I mean that's what half of all reality tv is focused completely on - watching the stupid things that people say and do.
But media never gives these idiot doctors a public platform to speak, ever. WHY?
Government officials imply that the reason why they censor and refuse to spotlight "anti-vax idiots," is because those interviews might create more vaccine hesitant and idiotic people. What's really interesting though, is that in the next breath they say that they are most concerned about the anti-vax population who are the highly educated, the most intelligent and wealthiest. In that stupid "anti-vax" population, it seems that no matter what puntative measures are implemented against non-vaccinating parents, this educated and wealthy population still refuses to comply, no matter the consequence. A CNN article states, "In California, the kindergarten students most likely to be exempt from mandatory vaccinations based on their parent's personal beliefs are white and wealthy, according to a recent study." Many of those parents refusing to vaccinate their children are doctors. This CNN article quoted a doctor at the end, the article states:
But some vaccine refusers remain unswayed. In February, Dr. Jack Wolfson, an Arizona cardiologist, told CNN he did not vaccinate his two sons and that he could live with himself if his unvaccinated child got another child gravely ill."It's an unfortunate thing that people die, but people die. I'm not going to put my child at risk to save another child," Wolfson said.
It's an interesting dichotomy, that the highly educated, most intelligent, most successful and wealthiest were actually converted into idiocy by listening to unintelligent people. And that no matter what officials do to smarten these once intelligent people up, there just seems to be no hope for restoring their intelligence. Three more examples were reported Here, Here and Here, and the last linked article actually says, "[the data] suggests an incursion of anti-science, anti-vaccine thinking in one of the smartest regions on Earth."
In contrast, my conclusion that I reached after really evaluating the DHHS' instruction, from statements made in both 1984 and 2010, is that the vaccine cautious arguments, if given equal weight and an equal platform in reporting, those arguments must sound credible, scientific, and concerning. Such arguments might actually sway people who aren't stupid. And because those arguments are credible, scientific and concerning, that's reason number two - WHY the media is censoring the opposition and refuses to give the pro-choice an EQUAL platform.
Direct to Consumer Advertising
And yet, there’s more to that answer, to respond to WHY media presents such a biased message. To explain the third reason why, I have to first explain some details about direct to consumer advertising. Direct to consumer advertising is only allowed in the US and New Zealand, and yet here in Canada, I remember watching countless pharmaceutical advertisements on commercial breaks when I had cable tv. Former Canadian MP Terence Young provided some important insight into this, in his book titled Death by Prescription. To quote from his book, on pages 294-295 it says:
[I was] introduced to Barbara Mintzes, a researcher at UBC who had spent a great deal of time studying how Big Pharma promoted their drugs....I asked Barbara why direct-to-consumer advertising was illegal in Canada.
"Health protection," she said..."It's because people with debilitating illnesses or in pain are vulnerable to emotional appeals and exaggerated messages. So are their family members."
“What about the ads on TV now?” I asked
“You’re seeing ads on US TV channels, or Canadian ‘help seeking’ ads. Our Foods and Drugs Act was amended in 1978 to allow advertising only of name, price, and quantity. Health Canada has interpreted that to allow the pharma companies to advertise the indication (use) of the drug without the name. So we get the ads about diseases and conditions that raise fear and other emotions and say, ‘Ask your doctor. Ask your doctor.’”
“Do help-seeking ads work?”
“Yes. Very well. The pharmaceutical companies get $1.69 in new sales for every dollar spent on TV ads, and over $2 for every dollar spent on magazine ads. Our research found that three out of four doctors will give a patient a drug if they ask for it by name. But almost as many will get the drug if they just mention a drug ad they’ve seen. The doctors fill in the blanks.”
“Don’t people realize they’re being manipulated?”
“Help-seeking ads look like public service messages. That lowers people’s commercial guard. And sometimes they are broadcast or published under the asupices of a trusted patient interest group – the third-party technique- ‘caring people looking out for your welfare.’”
“The help-seeking ads I’ve seen never mention adverse reactions.”
“That’s right. Drugs are presented as if they are magic and work all the time, with no hint of side effects. By law US [direct to consumer] ads must mention potential side effects. Since the Canadian ads don’t mention a drug, or even a drug company, they don’t have to."
An article published by Mintzes and her co-authors in 2003 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), further explains the different kinds of drug ads that can appear through Canadian media. The article explains the problems with regulating these ads, and the impact these advertisements have:
There are 3 types of prescription drug advertisements aimed at the public: product claim advertisements, which include both the product name and specific therapeutic claims; reminder advertisements, which provide the name of a product without stating its use; and help-seeking advertisements, which inform consumers of new but unspecified treatment options for diseases or conditions. All 3 forms of advertising are permitted in the United States. In Canada, although all 3 forms appear to contravene the Food and Drugs Act, reminder advertisements and help-seeking advertisements are now everyday events in broadcast and print advertising, with little or no regulatory response...
The responsibility for interpreting and enforcing drug-advertising regulations lies with Health Canada. How this works in practice is complex and, because of resource limitations, involves other bodies with delegated mandates...complaints are handled only by Health Canada.
The problems with this system are evident. Advertisements can be released to the general public without being reviewed by government regulators or their delegated bodies. Response to complaints tends to be slow, probably reflecting Health Canada's undercapacity to regulate [direct to consumer advertisements] DTCA, and, arguably, ineffectual. For example, a television advertisement for Zyban (bupropion) was allowed to run for months, although Health Canada judged it to contravene the law.
The costs associated with DTCA have generated significant concerns. In the United States, investment into DTCA grew from $791 million in 1996 to $2.5 billion in 2000, representing 32% of total spending on the promotion of prescription drugs (exclusive of product sample costs). This sharp increase in spending was a result of regulatory changes that facilitated radio and television advertising of prescription drugs.
In a 2009 article by Mintzes again, published in the Canadian Family Physician (CFP) journal, she explains how influential these ads have become:
Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs has increased enormously over the past decade in the United States and New Zealand, the 2 countries where it is legal. In 2005, more than $4.2 billion (US) was spent on DTCA in the United States, and Americans spent an average of 16 hours watching televised drug advertisements—far more time than they spent with family doctors.
Market research company IMS Health reviewed the returns on investment in DTCA for 49 brands from 1998 to 2003 and found that for “blockbuster” drugs, such as rofecoxib [Vioxx], companies on average obtained $3.66 per dollar invested. The key controversy is not whether DTCA stimulates sales, but whether or not this is good or bad for health, health care quality, and total health care costs.
Reflecting on those dollar amounts, if direct to consumer advertising didn't generate massive profits for the pharmaceutical companies, their spending on DTCA wouldn't have increased from $791 million in 1996, to $4.2 billion in 2005. That figure of $4.2 billion is now 14 years old, and so it's reasonable to assume those advertising expenditures have increased further.
In another CMAJ study, Mintzes and her co-authors state (emphasis mine):
Patients routinely cite the media, after physicians and pharmacists, as a key source of information on new drugs, but there has been little research on the quality of drug information presented. We assessed newspaper descriptions of drug benefits and harms, the nature of the effects described and the presence or absence of other important information that can add context and balance to a report about a new drug.
...A total of 356 articles mentioning at least 1 of the 5 study drugs appeared in 24 of Canada's largest newspapers in the year 2000. Of those articles, 193 (54%) discussed at least one harm or benefit and thus met our inclusion criteria. No article mentioned a harm without listing a benefit. Although every article contained at least one mention of a benefit, only 61 (32%) mentioned at least one harmful effect. In the 193 articles, beneficial effects (421) were mentioned 4.7 more times than harmful effects (89)...
In total, 68% of Canadian newspaper reports on the 5 drugs included in this study did not mention a single potential harmful effect, and benefits were mentioned nearly 5 times as often as harmful effects. In addition, the articles usually lacked quantitative information that would help a reader to know the likelihood that the drug would help them or the likelihood of adverse effects...
The articles commonly included quotes from satisfied patients, researchers and clinicians but rarely stated whether these people had any financial links to the manufacturer. In addition, information on contraindications, costs, and drug or nondrug alternatives was often lacking.
That background allows us to then understand the third reason, why the media presents such a biased, vaccine supportive viewpoint. For most media outlets in the US, the vast amount of their advertising funds (70+ percent in non-election years) comes from pharmaceutical companies. Recognizing that media is a business, and to stay in business they cannot lose their advertisers, the result is that talk show hosts and journalists cannot and will not go out their way to speak poorly about a pharmaceutical drug. This is especially true when it comes to vaccines. Journalists and talk show hosts will not pursue any kind of vaccine critical discussion that could or would threaten their station's industry sponsorship. If a host or journalist crosses that line, even by accident or unintentionally through personal action in their private lives, they run the risk of being fired immediately. The story of reporter Mish Michaels being fired from WBGH is a good example of this.
Michaels was hired by WBGH, Boston's public television station, to be their science reporter. Prior to that, in 2011, she had testified before Massachusetts State Assembly on a parental choice bill, expressing her concerns about the vaccine safety issues she learned about from the Pace Environmental Law Review, research titled Unanswered Questions From the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Later, when this information came to light, she was fired immediately from WBGH. In response, Mish Michael's has said, “Unfortunately, my personal beliefs as a private citizen have been positioned inaccurately. I have never claimed that I don’t believe in vaccines. I am pro-safe and effective vaccines and pro scientific discovery. As a journalist, I strive to ask hard questions.”
By shutting down and firing journalists who ask valid vaccine questions, even privately in their personal lives, the mainstream discussion in the vaccine debate has become severely biased. That said, I personally believe that most talk show hosts and news journalists are completely unaware that there’s even an issue to report on, so they are not presenting bias to be evil, they simply are unaware.
So, HOW does media present such a biased view, without that view appearing inappropriately biased. Ultimately, if the presentation of that bias appeared inappropriate, people would begin to question it. But here, nothing appears inappropriate because the bias has been presented in a very credible, logical and believable way. So HOW - how has happened? This answer has at least two parts.
FIRSTLY, it’s happened because rarely is a doctor who is informed about vaccine safety issues, given a public platform through mainstream sources, to speak about these safety issues. There are so many doctors speaking out, but because of censorship, these doctors have had to turn to the internet to get their messages to us. If you do not seek out these contrary medical opinions through alternative sources via the internet, you will NEVER hear about these issues (unless you have a very vocal and impassioned pro-choicer within your circle of friends). And in mainstream reporting, the media states that researching medical procedures online is something only stupid, uneducated, anti-science people do. They explain that smart people only listen to their doctor (and of course doctors haven't been taught the well founded vaccine safety issues, as was instructed by the DHHS).
SECONDLY, when media does present a vaccine cautious interview, the discussion panel usually only includes a parent (usually the mom) of a vaccine injured child debating against a pro-vaccine doctor. Or when a pro-vaccine doctor is not included in the disucssion, the reporter who is conducting the interview always repeatedly claims that all science is vaccine supportive. As stated above, almost never is a pro-choice doctor invited to participate in that discussion. These interviews are almost always spun in a way to make the parent look a bit (or a lot) ridiculous, and the interviewer models for the public how to dismiss statements made by these "anti-vaxxers" (a completely illogical term here recognizing that every single one of these parents had had their children vaccinated). Reporters dismiss everything the parent says, usually without even listening. Their only response is to repeatedly state there is NO scientific data supporting any notion that vaccine cause harm. And the reporter implies that the parent is unintelligent by repeatedly dismissing and .The reporters refuse to discuss any scientific data the parent refers to specifically. By ignoring the parent and the scientific data the parent points to, media is teaching the public how to be dismissive when confronted with an oppositional view. They teach, don't engage in discussion about the science, simply deny there is any science to talk about. These news clips routinely try to infer that the parent is struggling emotionally, suggesting the parent logicality has been blinded by their intense emotion. They emphasizing how challenging it must be to care for a special needs child, or they express deep condolences and deep sympathy to the parent. A perfect example of these tactics can be seen Here in an interview with parent JB Handley. Unfortunately, because the reporters always claim that all science is vaccine supportive, and because the parents interviewed are not usually medical doctors (though many of them are well educated) the parents simply do not have the same weight of believability, no matter how well the parent interviews and quotes scientific fact.
Robert F Kennedy Jr, a lawyer, has been speaking out on vaccines for several years now, and in a recent interview that he was invited to give on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, Kennedy thanked Carlson for the opportunity to present his concerns. Kennedy stated that in his 10 years of speaking out on this topic, this was only the second interview that mainstream media allowed.
So, all of this relates back to safety again. A drug's accepted-ness by society influences that drug's use, it's overuse and misuse. As a result of bias in vaccine reporting, safety is now being affected on at least five different levels:
LEVEL 1) The personal safety of pro-choice people is under threat. Bullying is frowned upon in society today, UNLESS you are attacking a "delusional idiotic anti-vaxxer," then bullying is widely supported and ACTUALLY ENCOURAGED. Rex Murphy's video comparing the intellectual power of people who are vaccine cautious, to that of a "dead tree stump" is perfect example of this. And the "anti-vaccine" attack has now surpassed bullying, it's crossing the line into full blown discrimination. In the last couple of years, I've heard it repeatedly stated that pro-choice parents should be jailed and their children should be removed from their custody. A Boston Globe actually proclaims that "dangerous anti-vaxxes" need to be hung. Employment options are limited for nurses who refuse to be vaccinated themselves, childcare options for unvaccinated children are also limited, as are preschool options, public school options, and post secondary schooling options. In some places teachers are refusing to teach unvaccinated children. In some countries, the Government is imposing monthly or annual fines on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, fines for each child that amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. Families are struggling to find doctors who will provide care to their unvaccinated children. And in some instances, children have been vaccinated against the parent's wishes, purposefully, unbeknownst to the parent. One article stated, "Nurses will, in fact, go and look for the unvaccinated kids [at school] to see if they can get them vaccinated." In specific areas, the Health Authority is actually enforcing policy, which has been objected to for having the side effect of "visually labelling" unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated nurses and hospital visitors have been required to a wear masks (and sometimes a sticker) while in the hospital all flu season long. This may sound minor, BUT but it's no different than requiring Jewish people to wear a star. The policy that forces unvaccinated nurses to wear a mask and sticker, is resulting in preferential treatment and discrimination because patients know what the masks mean and are now asking for the vaccinated nurse (or they ask for the unvaccinated nurse). Recognizing that the Health Authority has stood by this policy, despite the way it visually labels a minority, a minority which has now come to be widely hated within society, is shocking. (See "Article Sources" below, under the heading "Specific to Discrimination" for the articles that show these things are happening right now)
LEVEL 2) The safety and health of sick children is being SEVERELY compromised, because vaccine injured children simply cannot be allowed to exist. The IOM has clearly identified that there is inadequate data to determine causality for the majority of the potential vaccine injuries. Unfortunately, there is inadequate data because the vaccine manufacturers and Government refuse to conduct the appropriate studies that would provide the necessary data which could identify a causation association if one exists. Instead of conducting the appropriate studies, the manufacturer and Government instead point to a lack of data, emphasizing that that lack as proof of safety. The IOM, a National agency that provides health advice to the US Government, has clearly stated that a lack of data does not mean the vaccine is safe. At present, because there is a lack of data, the manufacturers and Government claim that children are not vaccine injured, that vaccines are perfectly safe, that there is no need to conduct research on long-term health outcomes in a vaccinated population, and that there is no need to conduct targeted research on these injured children, research which could help heal them. These children have been left to suffer, and their parents have been left to figure out how to help them, on their own, with little medical help from their doctors. Their doctors usually say there is nothing that can be done to help their sick children, besides medicating them or putting them in an institution.
LEVEL 3) The safety and health of you and your family is being compromised, because the media is not informing you of the vaccine safety and efficacy issues that CAN and are affecting you and your children.
LEVEL 4) The safety and health of everyone is affected because our doctors, who should be protecting us from harm and protecting/supporting those who have susceptibilities which make them more likely to experience vaccine injury. Remember, during medical school doctors are taught the exact same biased information that we learn (because medical universities get significant funding from pharma, as well, medical journals are funded by pharma advertising, and most research is conducted by the pharmaceutical companies who of course are trying to get their drugs approved for use). As a result of many doctors’ unquestioning support of vaccines, and their lack of awareness on the issues, their ignorance is contributing significantly to continuance of the harm and the safety problems.
LEVEL 5) The safety and health of everyone is being compromised, because the research that needs to be conducted to FIX this situation, research which would help us protect children from infectious disease AND also reduce or eliminate vaccine injury, is NOT being conducted.
A lecture given by Dr. Suzanne Humphries, about how vaccine information is presented to the public. Manufactured Consent – Part 1 Here
Instruction in 1984 by the DHHS that well founded vaccine safety concerns cannot be allowed to exist Here
Kathleen Sebelius', Secretary at the DHHS - quote appearing in Reader's Digest February 2010 Here
British Health Secretary - Antivaxxers are "campaigning against science" Here
CNN attacks Amazon for selling "anti-vaccine" products Here
GoFundMe will no longer allow "anti-vax" groups to raise funds Here
Amazon is no longer selling some products as a result of the CNN attack Here
Rex Murphy - Anti-vaxxers have the intellectual power of a dead tree stump Here
The highly educated and wealthy are more likely to refuse vaccines for their children Here Here, Here, Here, and Here
Book: Death By Prescription written by former Canadian MP Terence Young Here
Research on Direct to Consumer Advertising – Canadian Studies Here and Here
Research - Canadian Newspaper Coverage of New Prescription Drugs Here
Here is a short article about a science reporter, Mish Michaels, who lost her job because of her personal actions as a private citizen. Here
Honest Reporting on the Mish Michaels Story Here
Pace Environmental Law Review - Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury Here
An example of how interviews with parents always state there is no science to support the parent's statements Here
Here is a link to an interview with Robert F Kennedy Jr, by Tucker Carlson on Fox News. In this interview, Kennedy thanks Carlson for giving him the public platform to speak. Kennedy states that in his 10 years of work on this issue, this is only the second time he's been permitted on a mainstream station to speak. Here
$100,000 Challenge - Again shows Censorship and the Lack of Honest Reporting Here
70% of Mainstream Media Advertising is Purchased by Pharma Here Articles About
Article Sources Specific to Discrimination Against Vaccine Refusers
Boston Globe article that says Anti-vaxxers should be hung Here
Unvaccinated Health Care Workers Being Fired (Here) or are Required to Wear Mask all shift and all season, and the affect that's having: Here, here, here, here, here, and here
In some places, unvaccinated children are no longer permitted in childcare (Here) preschool (Here and Here) public/private school (Here, Here, & Here)
Teachers are refusing to teach unvaccinated children Here
BC nurses seek out children at school, children whose parents have purposefully not vaccinated them, which amounts to purposefully vaccinating children against the parent's wishes Here
Australia Government is refusing to provide financial support to qualifying citizens, if those citizens refuse to vaccinate their children Here
Australia will now fine parents who refuse to vaccinate, and US and Canadian media ask if the same should start happening over here Here and Here
Germany fines parents who refuse to vaccinate Here
Doctors refuse to provide care to unvaccinated children Here, Here, Here
CONTINUE to the next post here: Safety & Efficacy - Part 19