What we don’t know about vaccine safety

– by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. –

I understand how difficult it is to believe that powerful regulators like the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) would lie about vaccine safety. It took me 15 years of researching and litigating this issue before I arrived at the position I hold today.

The facts are that multiple investigations by Congress and Health and Human Services (HHS) in the United States have consistently found that an overwhelming majority of the officials directly charged with licensing and mandating vaccines have personal financial entanglements with vaccine manufacturers. Those conflicts motivate them to recommend ever more vaccines with minimal support from evidence-based science.

What few people know is that in 1986 the US Congress enacted a law granting vaccine makers blanket immunity from liability for injuries caused by vaccines. Subsequently, the number of recommended inoculations increased from 12 shots of 5 vaccines in 1986 to 70 shots of 15 vaccines today. A billion-dollar sideline grew into the $50 billion vaccine industry behemoth. Since vaccines are liability-free, there is meager market incentive for companies to make them safe. The public must rely on the moral scruples of Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, and Pfizer. But these companies have a long history of operating recklessly and dishonestly. The four companies that make virtually all of the recommended vaccines have paid over $35 billion since 2009 for defrauding regulators, lying to and bribing government officials and physicians, falsifying science, and leaving a trail of injuries and deaths from products they knew to be dangerous and sold under pretense of safety and efficacy.

No one knows the risks

Such concerns only deepen when one considers that, besides freedom from liability, vaccine makers enjoy another little-known loophole; vaccines are the only pharmaceutical products that do not need to be rigorously safety tested.

To win an FDA license, companies must safety test virtually every other drug for years in randomized comparisons against an inert placebo. Yet, not a single vaccine currently on the childhood schedule was tested against an inert placebo before licensing. Without placebo testing, regulators have no capacity to assess a medicine’s risks. It seems plain wrong to me that legislatures across the country are frantically passing coercive mandates for products for which no one knows the risks.

Furthermore, safety testing, which typically requires five or more years for other medical products, often lasts only a few days with vaccines—not nearly long enough to spot cancers or chronic conditions like autoimmune disease (juvenile diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis), allergic illnesses (food allergies, allergic rhinitis, eczema, asthma), or neurological and neurodevelopmental injuries (ADD, ADHD, narcolepsy, epilepsy, seizure disorders, and autism).

Manufacturers’ inserts accompanying every vaccine includes warnings about these and over 400 other injuries for which the FDA suspects vaccines may be the cause. Many of these illnesses became epidemic in American children after 1986, coterminous with the exploding vaccine schedule. For American kids born in 1986, only 12.8% had chronic diseases. That number has grown to 54% among those born after 1986 in lockstep with the expanding schedule. Evidence including HHS’s own surveillance reports, manufacturers’ inserts, and peer-reviewed studies link all of these injuries to vaccines. 99% adverse events not reported

HHS has also ignored its statutory obligations to study vaccine injuries and improve vaccine safety. In 1986, recognizing that drug companies no longer had any incentive to make vaccines safe, Congress ordered HHS to study vaccine injuries, work to improve vaccine safety, and report on its progress every two years. A year ago, I brought a lawsuit that forced HHS to admit that in 36 years it had never performed any of those critical studies. Post-licensure vaccine safety surveillance is also in shambles. The CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), to which doctors and patients may voluntarily report adverse vaccine events, received 58,381 reports in 2018, including 412 deaths, 1,237 permanent disabilities, and 4,217 hospitalizations. An HHS-funded review of vaccine adverse events reporting concluded that “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported”. This suggests that there are a hundredfold more adverse vaccine events than are reported. A 2017 study of the DTP vaccine, the most widely used vaccine on earth, found that children who received DTP had 10X the risk of dying compared to DTPunvaccinated children. While the vaccine appeared to protect children from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, it so badly weakened their immune systems that they were dying in droves from unrelated infections. The researchers concluded that the DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves. The world’s most aggressive vaccine schedule has not given our country the world’s healthiest children. We now rank 35th in overall health outcomes—just behind Costa Rica, making the U.S., by most measures, including infant mortality, the sickest in the developed world. In 2013, the IOM found that no studies have compared the differences in health outcomes between entirely unimmunized populations of children and fully immunized children. Furthermore, studies designed to examine the long-term effects of the cumulative number of vaccines have not been conducted.

Media malpractice

The suppression of critical safety science would not be possible without a mass epidemic of media malpractice. Mainstream and social media outlets, which collectively received $9.6 billion in revenues from pharmaceutical companies in 2016, have convinced themselves they are protecting public health by aggressively censoring criticism of these poorly tested products. But, the absence of press scrutiny leaves industry no incentive to improve vaccine safety. Muzzling discussions of government corruption and deficient safety science and abolishing vaccine injuries by fiat is not a strategy that will solve the growing chronic disease epidemic.

My belief that all or some of these injuries might be vaccine related has been the catalyst that wrenched so much of my focus away from the environmental work that I love and prompted me to become an advocate for vaccine safety. I have sacrificed friendships, income, credibility, and family relationships in an often-lonely campaign to force these companies to perform the tests that will definitively answer these questions.

People will vaccinate when they have confidence in regulators and industry. When public confidence fails, coercion and censorship became the final options. Silencing critics and deploying police powers to force untested medicines upon an unwilling public is not an optimal strategy in a democracy.

My uncle and my father argued that in a free and open society, the response to difficult questions should never be to shut down debate. What we need is science, not censorship. I want robust, transparent safety studies and independent regulators. These do not seem like the kind of radical demands that should divide our country and our families.

Robert Kennedy Jr. is an American environmental attorney, author, and advocate for children’s health. He is the President of Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit environmental group that he helped found in 1999. Kennedy is also the President of Children’s Health Defence. Kennedy is a son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former president John F. Kennedy. To learn more visit www.childrenshealthdefense.org

Leave a comment

*