This week, People published an article about a six-year-old girl who received a flu shot, yet shortly thereafter died from influenza infection. The article highlights how the girl’s parents are now urging other parents to get their children vaccinated, which is also the author’s central message. However, this is not the lesson to be drawn from this tragic death.
The cause of death in this case was determined to be myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, caused by influenza virus of an unreported type infecting her heart.
People quotes the mother saying, “It makes no sense. She was vaccinated. She died…. We did everything right. Every one of her doctors did everything right…. A lot of people wonder why we’re recommending he flu shot even though it didn’t work for us. But every time you get in a car you still get a seat belt. Why not stack the deck in your favor. Losing a child is the worst and I don’t want anybody else to feel like they could’ve done something more to save their child. We did everything right. We just weren’t lucky.”
Unfortunately, their assumption that vaccination “stack[s] the deck in your favor” illustrates that the parents of this child have been misinformed, and the major media share a large part of the responsibility for misinforming them, including by uncritically parroting vaccine propaganda from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For example, the People article states that, “According to the CDC, the best way to prevent flu is with a flu vaccine.” But there is absolutely no scientific basis for this claim. The media just repeat it unthinkingly (and doctors accept it just as unquestioningly). But where are the studies comparing the effectiveness of vaccination versus just making sensible healthy lifestyle choices including washing hands, eating a nutritious diet, exercising, ensuring sufficiency of vitamin C and especially vitamin D during winter months, and otherwise giving one’s body what it needs for its immune system to function and fight off infection from influenza virus?
Such studies simply do not exist. And it’s not as though nature designed us without a functioning immune system so that we all require an injection of chemicals and viral antigens in order to get it working properly. This whole paradigm is absolute nonsense. Vaccination has become a religion, and to dare to question official dogma is to commit the sin of heresy.
The reality is that it’s very possible that it was because this child was vaccinated that she died from the flu. Before getting into precisely why, let’s look at some other misinformation People propagates. The article links to an accompanying feature titled “Facts and Myths About the Flu Shot”, in which People makes the following assertions, either explicitly or implicitly:
- The influenza vaccine cannot increase your risk of getting the flu.
- The influenza vaccine does not have any severe negative health consequences.
- The flu shot isn’t perfect, but somewhere near 100 percent effective.
- Pregnant women should get a flu shot.
- The flu shot does not cause severe reactions for those with egg allergies.
- The flu shot does not cause autism.
None of these assertions are supportable by scientific evidence. The facts with respect to each are as follows.
The Flu Shot Can Increase Your Risk of Illness
To support the claim that it’s a “Myth” that “The Vaccine Causes the Flu”, People quotes a doctor saying, “Because the virus is inactive, it absolutely cannot transmit the infection.”
But there are several problems with this supposed “Myth”. The first is illustrated by the “Fact” provided to accompany it, which is that “Patients May Experience Flu-Like Symptoms Shortly After Getting the Vaccine”. People makes no effort to explain the difference between suffering from the flu and suffering “Flu-Like Symptoms”. Diagnostically speaking, there is no distinction, inasmuch as most diagnoses of “flu” are not laboratory-confirmed, but are based solely on the presenting symptoms. In fact, “flu” is frequently used to mean what are broadly termed “influenza-like illnesses”, which may or may not be caused by the influenza virus. And, of course, whether one’s flu-like symptoms are caused by a live influenza virus or the inactivated influenza viral antigens and other components of the flu shot hardly really matters to the person feeling sick.
People also notes that there are live-virus influenza vaccines; that is, vaccines where the virus is not inactivated and therefore could cause the flu, by their own reasoning.
But even more significantly, the doctor’s argument is simply a strawman fallacy that avoids addressing the real issue. What People doesn’t inform its readers is that there are in fact studies finding influenza vaccination to be associated with increased risk of illness, both from flu and non-influenza illnesses.
The reason the flu shot can increase your risk of illness is because of the opportunity costs of vaccination. In short, naturally acquired immunity is superior to that conferred by the vaccine. Natural infection results not only in an antibody response, which is all the vaccine is designed to trigger, but also the development of a robust cell-mediated immunity that confers protection not only against the infecting strain of influenza, but other strains as well—and, evidently, even other viruses. The vaccine, on the other hand, confers no such benefit, which is why repeated annual vaccination can actually weaken your immune system in the long run, resulting in an increased risk of infection from strains the vaccine is either not well designed to protect against or not intended to protect against.
And that is precisely why it’s possible that the tragic death of this six-year-old girl was a consequence of her having been vaccinated.
The Flu Shot Can Have Severe Health Consequences
People also declares it a “Myth” that “The Flu Shot Has Severe Health Consequences”, further describing the idea that vaccination “could alter people’s health” as merely the product of “rumors” and paraphrasing the same doctor as saying that “the brief side effects of the vaccine are really the only risk.”
This is absolutely ridiculous and utterly irresponsible reporting. The whole point of vaccination is to alter people’s health, and that it can do so negatively is not even the least bit controversial. Severe health consequences from influenza vaccines are recognized in the medical literature and include Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), narcolepsy, and febrile seizures. The fact that severe negative health consequences may result from vaccination is stated clearly right on the manufacturers’ own product package inserts.
People actually puts the lie to its own claim by then quoting the same doctor acknowledging that serious harms are “extremely rare”. So the flu shot can, admittedly, have severe health consequences! We could argue the question of just how “rare” serious harms are, but the point here is that to claim that it’s false that serious harms could result from vaccination is an outright lie.
Relatedly, another of the supposed “Myths” People lists is that “The Shot Causes Severe Reactions for Those with Egg Allergies”. People would be right to say that just because an individual is severely allergic to eggs doesn’t mean that they would have a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. But it is absolutely deceptive to suggest that the very possibility is a “Myth”.
To support this deception, People again paraphrases the doctor saying that “those with egg allergies need not be concerned.”
But then People belies its own suggestion that there is no such risk in its own counterpoint, which is that it is a “Fact” that “Patients with Egg Allergies Should Be Monitored After Getting the Vaccine”. Now why is that, do you think?!
Despite this obvious self-contradiction, People tries to further support its deceptive and utterly irresponsible claim by quoting the CDC website saying that “severe allergic reactions in people with egg allergies are unlikely”. But far from supporting the assertion, this quote rather acknowledges that there is such a risk.
The reality of this risk is also acknowledged right in the manufacturers’ own warnings that are included in the box of their egg-based influenza vaccine products. For example, GlaxoSmithKline states right in its package insert for its Fluarix influenza vaccine, “Do not administer FLUARIX to anyone with a history of severe allergic reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any component of the vaccine, including egg protein, or following a previous administration of any influenza vaccine.”
Just to let that sink in, let’s compare what People communicates to people versus what the vaccine manufacturers communicate in their own product warnings:
- People magazine: It’s a myth that the vaccine can cause severe allergic reactions in people who are severely allergic to eggs, so severely allergic individuals don’t need to worry about this and can go right ahead and safely get a flu shot.
- The vaccine manufacturers: Do not administer influenza vaccines that use eggs in the manufacturing process to anyone who is severely allergic to eggs.
How does the manufacturers’ own warnings that people who are severely allergic to eggs should not get vaccinated get translated in the public messaging into: don’t worry about it; just go ahead and obediently line up for your flu shot like the CDC tells you to?!
The fact that People is advising people precisely the opposite of what even the vaccine manufacturers state clearly in their own package inserts is simply an indication of the utter cluelessness of the author of the piece and the absence of any real research into the subject—which one would think would be requisite for a piece purporting to definitively declare what the “Myths” and “Facts” are about the flu shot.
This level of ignorance and deception is just standard fare for the mainstream corporate media. It is not journalism, it is propaganda. It is intended not to inform, but to advocate public vaccine policy.
The Flu Shot Is Highly Ineffective
Accompanying the supposed “Myth” that the flu shot can cause serious negative consequences is the “Fact” that “The Flu Shot is ‘Never 100 Percent Foolproof’”. The People feature once again paraphrases the doctor saying that “there is not a 100 percent guarantee that a person will not get the flu.”
This, of course, implies that the flu shot is highly effective, perhaps somewhere in the ninetieth percentile in terms of effectiveness for preventing the flu (and surely at least in the eightieth percentile!). But the reality is that it’s a preposterously meaningless understatement to say that the flu shot is not 100 percent effective when, for example, the CDC’s own estimate of the flu vaccine’s effectiveness for the 2017-2018 flu season is just 36 percent.
That is not a highly effective vaccine, even in terms of relative versus absolute risk. To illustrate the difference, if a study resulted in 3 of 100 vaccinated and 5 of 100 unvaccinated subjects getting the flu after exposure, the CDC would divide the 5 percent into the 3 percent of people who got the flu and declare the result that the vaccine was 60 percent effective at preventing the flu. But the absolute risk would be determined by dividing the 95 percent into the 97 percent who didn’t get the flu in either group, resulting in an absolute risk reduction of less than 1 percent. Another way of expressing this absolute risk reduction is the “number needed to treat”, or NNT, which in this case would be 100. That is, what “60 percent effective” would actually mean in this case is that 100 people would need to be vaccinated in order for just 1 person to receive a benefit from it.
Another way of saying that is, for 99 percent of people who get the shot, there is no benefit, only risk of harm.
While my above numbers are made up simply to illustrate the difference between absolute and relative risk, the result of an NNT of 100 is accurate. According to a review of the scientific literature by the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration, in an average year, when the vaccine is not well matched with the circulating viruses (which raises a whole other issue I won’t get into here), 100 people need to be vaccinated in order for 1 person to see a benefit.
That same study concluded that the CDC’s universal influenza vaccine recommendation is unsupported by scientific evidence. In their own words, their findings “seem to discourage the utilization of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure.”
Then there is the fact that there are over 200 known viruses that cause symptoms lumped together under the label “influenza-like illnesses”. The only way to know for sure whether it’s actually an influenza virus causing “the flu” is to do laboratory testing, which isn’t usually done. The vaccine is designed to protect against only three or four strains of influenza (depending on whether it’s a trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine), which at best represents only about 10 percent of all circulating viruses known to cause flu-like symptoms.
You can begin to see just how utterly meaningless and irresponsibly deceptive it is to declare that getting a flu shot “is not a 100 percent guarantee that a person will not get the flu.”
Pregnant Women Should Think Twice about Getting a Flu Shot
The People feature declares it to be a “Myth” that “Pregnant Women Should Not Get the Flu”. Of course, this is a statement of opinion, not a statement of fact. And the best People does to support this opinion is to once again paraphrase their doctor source saying “that it is often recommended that pregnant women get the shot for their own health — and that of their unborn child.”
It’s true that the CDC recommends that pregnant women receive a flu shot. But it does not follow from this fact that therefore it is safe for either the expectant mother or her vulnerable fetus for her to get a flu shot.
For starters, we can turn once again to the manufacturers’ own warnings, which clearly state that the safety and effectiveness of administering influenza vaccines to pregnant women has not been scientifically demonstrated.
We can turn to GSK’s Fluarix product again for a specific example, the warning in their package insert disclosing that “Safety and effectiveness of FLUARIX have not been established in pregnant women or nursing mothers.”
The Cochrane Collaboration has pointed out in one of its reviews of the scientific literature that the number of randomized, placebo-controlled studies examining the safety and effectiveness of vaccinating pregnant women is zero.
Beyond these simple observations, the CDC’s own researchers have found influenza vaccination in pregnant women to be associated with a significantly higher risk of miscarriage.
And it is totally irresponsible to declare to all pregnant women that they absolutely should get a flu shot without advising them to avoid unnecessarily exposing their developing baby to a known neurotoxin by avoiding versions of the vaccine containing mercury.
It’s not as though People is unaware that multi-dose vials of influenza vaccines contain the preservative Thimerosal, which by weight is half ethylmercury, a known neurotoxin that passes through both the placental and blood-brain barriers. Further down the page, where it discusses the subject of autism, the People feature acknowledges that some versions of the vaccine do in fact contain mercury. How is that not worth mentioning in the section pertaining to vaccination during pregnancy?
It is totally irresponsible and reckless to advise pregnant woman to get a flu shot without informing them that Thimerosal-free versions are available so they don’t have to completely unnecessarily expose their developing child to a known neurotoxin.
This brings us to the final supposed “Myth” offered by People, which is that “The Flu Vaccine Causes Autism in Children”. By declaring this to be a myth, People is claiming that the influenza vaccine doesn’t cause autism in children.
I would challenge People to produce even a single study to support that claim. I can think of one that considered the possibility, titled “Association Between Influenza and Vaccination During Pregnancy and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder”, published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2017. Before adjusting the data in a way that other researchers have criticized as inappropriate and unscientific, the study’s authors actually found a statistically significant association between influenza vaccination during pregnancy and the risk of autism—a possible risk of 4 additional autism spectrum disorder cases for every 1,000 women vaccinated.
To support its assertion that flu shots don’t cause autism, People paraphrases the New York Times reporting that “there is no scientific evidence that the shots and the disorder are connected”.
But that’s simply not true. In fact, there is a very simple and biologically plausible mechanism by which influenza vaccination of pregnant women could cause autism in their child. Autism is a known consequence of brain inflammation. There is an established association between maternal inflammation during pregnancy and the development of autism in the child. And the whole purpose of the vaccine is to provoke an inflammatory response.
In fact, one argument advocating public vaccine policy is that, since influenza can cause inflammation in pregnant women, which is known to be associated with an increased risk of their child developing autism, therefore they should get a flu shot to prevent autism. What this argument ignores is that, by doing so, women are trading a hypothetical risk of inflammation due to possible influenza infection for the virtually guaranteed risk of inflammation due to vaccination.
Another biologically plausible mechanism is the exposure of the vulnerable fetus, especially during the first few months of development, to neurotoxic ethylmercury.
As though just to insult its readers’ intelligence, People concludes its feature by paraphrasing their doctor source saying that the increase in autism—now estimated at 1 in 40 children—is not real, but simply a statistical artifact from better diagnosing and reporting. It’s only “because the condition is simply being recognized more often.”
It’s true that diagnostic criteria have changed, but the idea that there have always been 1 in 40 children with autism but nobody noticed is absolutely ludicrous. This may account for some of the increase, but there is no question whatsoever that the increase is real and that the medical establishment offers no explanation for it, other than declaring unscientifically to know that vaccines are not a contributing factor. And I say “unscientifically” because the kinds of studies that would need to be done to determine whether children receiving vaccinations according to the CDC’s routine childhood schedule is causally associated with the autism epidemic have not been done. (Actually, of all the vaccines and all their ingredients on the whole schedule, all the studies that the CDC cites to support its claim that vaccines do not cause autism looked either at only one vaccine or only one vaccine ingredient. None of them was designed to test the hypothesis that vaccines—plural—routinely administered according to the CDC’s schedule can cause autism in a genetically susceptible subpopulation. Zero!)
The piece closes with a perfectly meaningless quote from the same doctor expressing her opinion, “I don’t think there’s a correlation.”
It isn’t a question of belief. It’s a question of what the science tells us, and the science tells us that it’s a biologically plausible hypothesis that the influenza vaccine, given to pregnant women, might cause autism in their offspring.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
This People article and the accompanying “Myths” feature is not journalism. It is not informative content. It does not educate parents to be able to make a truly informed choice about whether to vaccinate their children. It is simply mindless propaganda, lazily researched and factually unsupported. It instead grossly misinforms parents about what science actually tells us about the safety and effectiveness of influenza vaccines.
And this is not an anomaly. The mainstream media systematically deceive the public about vaccines. I demonstrate this using a case study from the New York Times in part one of a major influenza vaccine exposé I’ve been working on. I also show both in part one and even deeper in part two how, by deceiving the public about the science, the media is simply following the example set by the CDC.
Here are the first two installments of the series:
- Should You Get the Flu Shot Every Year? Don’t Ask the New York Times.
- How the CDC Uses Fear and Deception to Sell More Flu Vaccines
You’ll see that I’ve taken a different approach than the major media by doing actual journalism instead of just mindlessly advocating public policy. You’ll see that I haven’t just looked at what the CDC says and passed that along as though unquestionable truth. I haven’t just found some person with an “M.D.” after their name to reiterate what they know the CDC says and otherwise to express their own misinformed opinions. I’ve actually dug into the scientific literature to see what science really tells us about it. You’ll see I’ve cited all my sources, so anyone can verify for themselves that the information I’m presenting is accurate. And the key takeaway is this: What the government and media say science says and what science actually tells us about vaccine safety and effectiveness are two completely different and mutually incompatible things.
You’ll find support for much of what I’ve written above in those two installments of the series. Two more installments in this series are forthcoming. Part three will discuss the body of science that shows how the influenza vaccine might actually increase your risk of illness, as well as what science really tells us about vaccinating pregnant women and the dangers of exposing the fetus to mercury. Like the first two parts, it will be fully sourced, giving you the studies. Part four will expose just how unscientific the CDC’s claim is that the flu shot is “the best way” to prevent the flu.
I’m writing this series because the major media have utterly failed to do their job. They simply are not doing journalism on this subject. The corporate media have the financial resources to do real journalism, but they refuse to, preferring instead to serve their usual statist function of manufacturing consent for government policy. So I’m stepping up to empower readers like you with the knowledge you need to be able to make a truly informed choice.
My purpose is to share the knowledge I’ve gained deeply researching this issue as both a father (of a now-six-year-old) and a truly independent journalist. I know that by doing this work, I am placing a huge target on myself. I don’t care about the labels, like the media’s derogatory label, “anti-vaxxer”, applied to anyone who dares to criticize or dissent from public vaccine policy. I don’t care about the personal attacks. I don’t care because I can back up what I’m saying. I don’t care because the fact the government and media are lying to the public about vaccines is easily demonstrable. I don’t care because I understand that this is a critically important subject about which the public desperately needs to be told the truth.
But I cannot do this alone. My major flu vaccine exposé is being made possible only through the financial support of my community of readers. My journalism is not backed by corporate capital. It’s not backed by the pharmaceutical industry. It’s not backed by government grants. It’s not backed some rich philanthropist seeking to serve some political agenda by manipulating public opinion. It’s backed by parents of vaccine-injured children who could otherwise be using their dollars to care for their own child, by concerned citizens living on low fixed incomes, by licensed medical professionals who support what I’m doing, and by other readers who value the empowering knowledge I’m delivering enough to want to make a financial contribution to the effort.