The opioid crisis has become a social issue that transcends all geographic and socioeconomic boundaries — affecting people of every age, gender and ethnicity at alarming rates
Prescription opioids cost the U.S. at least $75 billion annually and more than 11 million Americans are believed to have abused these medications during 2016
According to the CDC, on average 115 Americans die of an opioid overdose every day
While you may not think opioid addiction can happen to you, these potent painkillers are routinely prescribed for the treatment of bodily pain related to accidents, car crashes, sports injuries and surgeries — experiences that are common to people everywhere
By Dr. Mercola – July 14, 2018
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 115 Americans, on average, die of an opioid overdose every day.1 The increasing use of opioid painkillers and the rampant rates of addiction to them have become a social issue that transcends all geographic and socioeconomic boundaries.
Drug overdoses now affect people of every age, gender and ethnicity. “Understanding the Opioid Epidemic” is a one-hour PBS documentary designed to highlight some of the issues surrounding the disturbing rates of use and abuse of prescription opioid medications in the U.S.
These potent painkillers are routinely prescribed for the treatment of bodily pain, most often relating to accidents, car crashes, sports injuries or surgery. If you or someone you love is taking opioids or is already addicted, you may find solace and validation by hearing from recovering addicts and their family members. Also featured are patient advocates, doctors and other experts who deal with this issue on a daily basis.
Painkillers Prescribed for Common Medical Conditions Can Be a Gateway to Opioid Addiction
Far from being an epidemic of nameless, faceless people from faraway lands, the U.S. opioid crisismakes front-page news week after week. The headlines include heartbreaking stories from people like Avi and Julie Israel of North Buffalo, New York, whose son Michael’s story is featured prominently in the documentary. Michael was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 12. Problems with drug addiction began when Michael transitioned from his pediatrician to a gastroenterologist when he was 18.
To address Michael’s pain, the new doctor prescribed hydrocodone (sold under the brand names Norco and Vicodin), a semisynthetic opioid derived from codeine. That one choice changed Michael forever.
After obtaining a court order to review Michael’s pharmacy records after his death, the Israels discovered their son had been prescribed 185 pain pills in little more than a 30-day period just a few months before he died.2 “I couldn’t believe the doctors did this to him,” declared Julie. “It’s indefensible. … It changed him chemically forever.”
Sadly, after his addiction to prescription opioids and other medications overtook his life, Michael committed suicide in June 2011. He was 20. In the film, Avi and Julie expressed their sadness over the reality that many who become addicted to opioids are treated like outcasts, especially by people whose lives have not been directly impacted by this crisis.
Said Julie, “The people who are not affected do not think it will happen to them, but that’s a naïve perspective. You are one car accident, one surgery, one wisdom tooth or one sports injury away from the disease of addiction. That’s how fast it can happen to your family.”
Sports Injuries Are Another Launching Point for Opioid Addiction
As mentioned, opioid addiction can easily begin with an injury or surgery. While you may not realize it, taking prescription opioids puts you just a few steps away from becoming a heroin addict or falling victim to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director, opioid policy research, Brandeis University, says “The effects of these drugs are indistinguishable from the effects produced by heroin.
When we talk about opioid prescription drugs, we are essentially talking about ‘heroin pills.’” Jennifer Weiss-Burke, executive director of Serenity Mesa Youth Recovery Center in Albuquerque and mother of student-athlete Cameron Weiss, who died of a heroin overdose in August 2011, knows that full well. Around age 16, Weiss had the misfortune of breaking his collarbone — twice — the first time while wrestling, which required surgery, and several months later while playing football.
On both occasions, Weiss was prescribed opioids to help him cope with the intense pain. Unfortunately, the prescribed medications served as gateway drugs for him, and he later moved on to heroin, which is regarded as a cheaper substitute for prescription opioids. About the effects of drugs on his life, Weiss-Burke writes:3
“Cameron became dependent and then addicted to opioids. He quickly progressed to a heroin addiction when he no longer had easy access to pills. Heroin was cheaper and easier to get. He smoked heroin for about a year before he began injecting the drug. He had always said he would never put a needle in his arm, but the drug beckoned, and he listened.
Drugs changed Cameron almost overnight. He went from being a compassionate young man who loved spending time with his family, to a young man who made heroin his primary focus. School, sports and family — everything took a backseat to his addiction. The drug became his world and it controlled him like a puppet on a string.
He was no longer using to get high, he was using to feel “well” and to not be sick. Becoming addicted to drugs and dying as a result of his addiction was the last thing Cameron (or our family) ever thought would happen to him. Cameron would want everyone to know that if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. No one is exempt from this terrible disease.”
What Are Opioids and How Are They Used?
If you’ve ever received a prescription for painkillers, you’ve likely taken an opioid. These powerful pharmaceutical medications are commonly used to treat moderate-to-severe pain despite the many serious risks and lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness. They are often prescribed after an injury or surgery, or to relieve pain associated with chronic health conditions such as cancer, fibromyalgia and inflammatory bowel disease, among others.
A few of the most popularly prescribed drugs are oxycodone (sold under the brand name OxyContin), hydrocodone, morphine and methadone. Regardless of whether you have a history of legal or illegal drug use, anyone who takes prescription opioids for any length of time runs the risk of becoming addicted to them.
Once addicted, it can be hard to stop using these medications. “Patients and prescribers really need to understand that opioids are highly addictive,” states Dr. Richard Blondell, vice chair for addiction medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo and first director of the National Center for Physicians Training in Addiction Medicine.
“It doesn’t mean they should never prescribe them or that a patient should never take them. It means we have to be very careful with these drugs.” On the other hand, when used properly, opioids can provide much-needed pain relief to get you through the early hours and days of an intense healing and recovery process.
Whenever the subject of pain medication is brought up, it’s important for you to ask questions about your pain-management options and also the potential risks of opioid addiction. Both you and your doctor should carefully consider risk factors such as your family history, genetics, history of substance abuse or addictions, mental health, psychological or social stressors and history of trauma. These factors may increase your risk of addiction.
Facts About the Opioid Epidemic
David Thomas, Ph.D., health scientist administrator with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), was a pain and opioid researcher for 12 years before joining the NIDA. Regarding the opioid epidemic, Thomas said, “The rate of death from prescription opiates has been exponentially growing. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how many lives are wrecked because of prescription opiates. It’s a huge problem.” About the opioid epidemic that has taken the U.S. by storm since the mid-1990s, the CDC says:4,5
More than 11 million Americans abused prescription opioid medications during 2016
From 1999 to 2016, more than 630,000 people died as a result of a drug overdose
About two-thirds of the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved an opioid
The number of overdose deaths involving opioids was five times higher in 2016 than it was in 1999
Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death among Americans under age 506
About the issues related to opioids, Kolodny asserts, “The reason the U.S. is in the midst of a severe epidemic of opioid addiction is because the medical community began to prescribe opioids very aggressively. And as the prescriptions went up, rates of addiction and overdose deaths went up right along with the increase in prescribing.”
Prior to the release of the documentary, Kolodny told The New York Times, “We have roughly two groups of Americans that are getting addicted … an older group that is overdosing on pain medicine, and … a younger group that is overdosing on black market opioids.”7
The Opioid Crisis Is Damaging Society and Costing Us Millions
While the issue is multifaceted, Kolodny suggests drug makers and physicians play a big role in the opioid crisis. After all, without pharmaceutical companies, the painkilling medications in question would not exist, and doctors are the ones responsible for putting prescriptions into the hands of their patients.
“The only way you can do well financially and have a blockbuster drug is to get the medical community to prescribe your medication for common conditions and long-term conditions,” says Kolodny. “And if it’s a drug that is very difficult for people to discontinue using, then you’ve got a pretty good recipe for a blockbuster.”
Over the years, several states have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers related to misleading marketing campaigns and failure to disclose addiction risks for drugs such as OxyContin. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the economic cost of opioid abuse to average about $75 billion annually — with $55 billion attributed to health and social costs and $20 billion to emergency department and inpatient treatment associated with opioid poisonings.
The majority of these costs are borne by Medicare, Medicaid, the Veteran’s Administration and private insurance companies. In most cases, these organizations pay twice — once for the opioid medications themselves and a second time when the patient seeks treatment for an addiction or overdose. Notably, alternative pain-relieving treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, physical therapy and others are not well understood and are even less often covered by insurance.
Better Solutions Exist Beyond the Prescription Pad
For some doctors, writing a prescription is simply a faster way to address a patient’s concern. For some patients, taking a pill or two a day seems more convenient than scheduling alternative therapy appointments or participating in weeks of physical rehab. Regardless, painkillers are not a long-term solution. Dr. Daniel Alfred, director of the Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE of Pain) program at Boston University School of Medicine, claims he has a solution to make the opioid crisis go away. He states:
“… If the insurance industry would pay for comprehensive pain-management services under one roof where you can get massage therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, medication management and — you name it — things would change.
I want patients to start demanding multimodal, comprehensive pain-management treatment. I want them to say to their doctors, ‘I need something better.’ They should be calling their insurance companies asking, ‘Why do I not have access to these therapies?’”
Kolodny suggests the best approach to dealing with the opioid crisis is prevention. Similar to Alfred, as a secondary measure, Kolodny notes we need new and better treatment approaches to support those who have become addicted, especially with respect to preventing overdoses. In addition, and most assuredly, education is an important factor to stem the tide of opioid addiction.
Students, parents, doctors, educators, policy makers, public health officials and others need to better understand the risks associated with taking (and prescribing) opioid medications. Education was one of the premises for making the documentary. Concludes Blondell, “It doesn’t have to be like this. Our society doesn’t have to be riddled with addiction. We don’t have to read about all these people who overdosed. We can do better. We know what to do. It’s just getting the will to do it that is the hard part.”
What Can You Do to Avoid Painkillers and Overcome Opioid Addiction?
If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, please seek professional help immediately. At the same time, a major step toward health when dealing with chronic disease of any kind, including opioid addiction, is to make dramatic changes to your diet and lifestyle. Below are four areas to address as a primary strategy:
Eliminate or radically reduce your consumption of grains and sugars
Increase your intake of animal-based omega-3 fats
Optimize your production of vitamin D
Radically reduce your intake of processed foods
Beyond that, if you suffer from chronic pain of any kind, you need to know there are many natural, safe and effective alternatives to over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, including the following:
Astaxanthin: As an oil-soluble antioxidant, astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties; you may need 8 milligrams or more per day for pain relief
Boswellia: Also known as “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which worked well for many of my former rheumatoid arthritis patients
Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found mainly in the core of pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory; it can be obtained from the fruit or taken in supplement form
Cayenne cream: This spice comes from dried hot peppers and alleviates pain by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells known to transmit pain signals to your brain
Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in dairy butter and fish, acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory; it has been useful to relieve ganglion cysts and mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome
Curcumin: A therapeutic compound found in the spice turmeric, curcumin has been shown in more than 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity; it is best taken in capsules and you can take two to three every hour as needed
Evening primrose, black currant and borage oils: These oils contain the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, which is useful for treating arthritic pain
Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties
Kratom: Mitragyna speciose, also known as kratom, is a plant remedy and psychoactive substance that has become a popular opioid substitute,8 but only when used carefully; it can also be addictive so use it only under the guidance of qualified medical personnel
Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN): An opiate antagonist originally developed in the early 1960s to treat opioid addiction, today’s prescription LDN triggers endorphin production, which can boost your immune function and ease pain
Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. Opioids are responsible for nearly two-thirds of these deaths, but benzodiazepine (“benzos”) overdoses are also on the rise
Benzo prescriptions tripled from 1996 to 2013, but this doesn’t fully account for the uptick in overdoses, which quadrupled during that time
A number of studies have highlighted the deadly risks you take when combining opioids with benzos. During the first 90 days of concurrent use, your risk of a deadly overdose rises fivefold, compared to taking an opioid alone
The combination of opioids and benzos is the most common drug combination in cases where an overdose death involved two or more drugs; more than 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involve benzos
The ratio of patients using opioids and benzos concurrently rose from 9 percent in 2001 to 17 percent in 2013; concurrent use for at least one day doubled the odds of an opioid overdose compared to taking opioids alone
By Dr. Mercola – July 19, 2018
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50.1Preliminary data for 2016 reveals the death toll may be as high as 65,0002 — a 19 percent increase in a single year. Opioids, narcotic pain killers, are responsible for nearly two-thirds, about 42,000, of these deaths.3 Between 2002 and 2015, more than 202,600 Americans died from opioid overdoses.4
While such statistics are sobering enough, recent research5 suggests the death toll may still be underestimated due to incomplete drug reporting of overdose deaths. The researchers believe upward of 70,000 opioid overdose deaths were excluded from national estimates between 1999 and 2015, for the simple reasons that coroners routinely fail to specify opioid use as a contributing cause of death. According to lead author Jeanine Buchanich, research associate professor at University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health:6
“Proper allocation of resources for the opioid epidemic depends on understanding the magnitude of the problem. Incomplete death certificate reporting hampers the efforts of lawmakers, treatment specialists and public health officials. And the large differences we found between states in the completeness of opioid-related overdose mortality reporting makes it more difficult to identify geographic regions most at risk.”
The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include7 methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®). Extremely potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl are also being abused by a rising number of people. Now, researchers warn a particularly powerful combination of commonly prescribed drugs significantly raises your risk of death.
Benzodiazepine Overdoses Are Also Rising
While opioids make the most frequent headlines, another class of drugs — benzodiazepines8 or “benzos,” widely prescribed for anxiety and insomnia — also claims its share of lives. Prescriptions for these drugs, which include Valium, Ativan, Klonopin and Xanax, tripled from 1996 to 2013, but this doesn’t fully account for the uptick in overdoses, which quadrupled during that time.9
As for why the rate of overdose deaths rose faster than the rate of prescriptions, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, one of the study’s authors, told STAT News,10 “Our guess is that people are using these prescriptions in a riskier way.” The number of pills prescribed to each adult increased over the study period, for instance, which suggests Americans may be taking higher doses or taking the drugs for longer periods, both of which increase the risk of overdose.
Combining the drugs — which act as sedatives — with alcohol is also risky, as is using the drugs along with opioids. Prescription records also show the use of benzos has risen alongside the use of opioids, and that the sedatives are often used alongside the painkillers to enhance the high.11
According to Dr. David Juurlink, head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto,12 “Prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines together is like putting gasoline on a fire,” adding that “Benzodiazepines are grossly overprescribed … and many people don’t necessarily benefit from them.”
Older adults who used benzodiazepines for three months or more had a 51 percent greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not, and the risk increased the longer the drugs were used. According to the authors, “The stronger association observed for long term exposures reinforces the suspicion of a possible direct association …”
Opioid-Benzodiazepine Combination Raises Risk of Death Fivefold
A number of studies have already highlighted the deadly risk you take when combining opioids with benzos. Most recently, research14,15 published in JAMA looked at how the risk of overdose changes when you combine the two drugs for a number of days in a row.
As it turns out, during the first 90 days of concurrent use, your risk of a deadly overdose rises fivefold, compared to taking an opioid alone. Between days 91 and 180, the risk remains nearly doubled, after which the risk tapers off, becoming roughly equal to taking an opioid alone. According to the authors:
“Policy interventions should focus on preventing concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine use in the first place instead of reducing the length of concurrent use. Patients using both medications should be closely monitored, particularly during the first days of concurrent use.”
The study also found that the greater number of clinicians were involved in a patient’s care, the greater the risk of overdose — a finding that highlights the lack of communication between doctors prescribing medication to the same patient, and the clear danger thereof. As noted by senior study author Yuting Zhang, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, “These findings demonstrate that fragmented care plays a role in the inappropriate use of opioids.”
Other Studies Confirm Extreme Risk of Opioid-Benzo Mix
Other studies have come to similar conclusions. A 2013 study found the combination of opioids and benzos was the most common drug combination in cases where an overdose death involved two or more drugs.16 According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of opioid overdoses involve concurrent use of benzos.17
Remarkably, another 2013 study18 discovered “substantial co-use” of opioids and benzos among pregnant women that led to death, which is doubly tragic. As reported in a third study that year, which stressed the importance of urine drug testing whenever patients are prescribed an opioid, to ensure their safety:19
“[C]oadministration of [opioids and benzodiazepines] produces a defined increase in rates of adverse events, overdose and death, warranting close monitoring and consideration when treating patients with pain. To improve patient outcomes, ongoing screening for aberrant behavior, monitoring of treatment compliance, documentation of medical necessity, and the adjustment of treatment to clinical changes are essential.”
A study20 published in 2017 found the ratio of patients, aged 18 to 64, who used opioids and benzos concurrently rose from 9 percent in 2001 to 17 percent in 2013, a relative increase of 80 percent. Not surprisingly, concurrent use of opioids and benzos for at least one day doubled the odds of an opioid overdose compared to taking just opioids.
Why Opioid-Benzo Combination Is so Deadly
In 2014, Ohio ended up using an opioid/benzo mix in a death row execution when the conventionally used drugs were unobtainable.21 That just goes to show this drug combination has an assured lethality at the “right” dosage. The reason these two drugs are so hazardous in combination is because both are potent central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
Your CNS, which includes your brain and spinal cord, coordinates and regulates the activity of automatic functions such as breathing. Respiratory depression, meaning slow and erratic breathing, can occur on both drugs, which leads to a buildup of carbon dioxide. In a sufficiently large dose, breathing can cease altogether, leading to death.
Like opioids, benzodiazepines are not intended for long-term use, yet many chronic pain patients end up staying on them for years, and may even take them with opioids for long periods of time. As noted by Dr. Len Paulozzi, medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, benzos “are prominent fellow travelers with opioids. The problem is, people get on them and they stay on them …”
Opioids Account for Three-Quarters of Drug Deaths Worldwide
In related news, the 2018 World Drug Report22 reveals pharmaceutically-produced opioids now account for more than three-quarters of all drug overdose deaths worldwide. Fentanyl abuse is rising in the U.S., while Africa and Asia are struggling with rising overdose deaths from Tramadol. While doctors are still a primary source of opioids, illegal drug traffickers have started cashing in on the opioid abuse trend, manufacturing and selling them illegally.
According to Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “We are facing a potential supply-driven expansion of drug markets, with production of opium and manufacture of cocaine at the highest levels ever recorded.” Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the global opium production rose by 65 percent.
In a June 26 address to observe International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, United Nations secretary-general António Guterres said,23 “I urge countries to advance prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration services; ensure access to controlled medicines while preventing diversion and abuse; promote alternatives to illicit drug cultivation; and stop trafficking and organized crime.”
Opioid Makers Shrink Payments to Doctors
One of the factors suspected of contributing to the burgeoning opioid epidemic is kickbacks to the doctors who prescribe them. According to a 2017 study,24 more than 68,000 physicians received drug company payments totaling more than $46 million between August 2013 and December 2015. This means 1 in 12 U.S. physicians collected kickbacks from drug companies producing prescription opioids.
The top 1 percent of physicians received nearly 83 percent of the payments, and fentanyl prescriptions was associated with the highest payments. Many of the states struggling with the highest rates of overdose deaths, such as Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, were also those showing the most opioid-related payments to physicians, clearly demonstrating a direct link between doctors’ kickbacks and patient addiction rates and deaths.
Increasing pressure on drug companies — in large part brought to bear by lawsuits over deceptive marketing and charges being filed against executives and sales reps for their role in manufacturing demand — now appears to be paying off. According to a recent ProPublica analysis,25 drug company payments to doctors related to opioids decreased 33 percent between 2015 and 2016, from $23.7 million to $15.8 million.
The most significant decrease was related to Subsys, a fentanyl spray made by Insys. The company’s founder, John Kapoor, was arrested in October 2017, charged with bribing doctors to overprescribe the drug. Other Insys executives and sales reps were arrested on conspiracy and racketeering charges.26 In 2015, the company doled out more than $6 million in Subsys-related payments. In 2016, that amount shrunk to less than $2.4 million.
Purdue Pharma, heavily criticized for its deceptive marketing of OxyContin, no longer pays doctors to speak about the drug, and laid off its last opioid sales reps in June 2018.27 While the cutbacks in payments are a step in the right direction, research shows it doesn’t take huge sums of money to influence a doctor’s prescribing habits. A single free meal received in relation to marketing of an opioid has been shown to result in a greater number of prescriptions for the drug in the following year.28,29
Addiction Is a Very Real Problem with Benzodiazepines
Getting back to the issue of benzodiazepines, it’s important to realize these drugs are every bit as addictive and dangerous as opioids, and when taken together, the risk of death is magnified fivefold. Benzos exert a calming effect by boosting the action of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which in turn activates the gratification hormone, dopamine, in your brain.
Side effects include memory loss, hip fractures, impaired thinking and dizziness. Ironically, symptoms of withdrawal include extreme anxiety — in many cases worse than the original symptoms that justified the treatment in the first place. Other side effects of withdrawal include hallucinations, depersonalization and derealization, formication (skin crawling) and sensory hypersensitivity, perceptual distortions, convulsions and psychosis.
There are far safer ways to address anxiety and insomnia, starting with exercise, optimizing your gut microbiome and omega-3 level. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another effective tool that can help reprogram your body’s reactions to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life. This includes both real and imagined stressors, both of which can be significant sources of anxiety. It can also help reduce pain.
In the following video, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman discusses EFT for stress and anxiety relief. Please keep in mind that while anyone can learn to do EFT at home, for serious issues like persistent or severe anxiety you should consult with an EFT professional to get the relief you need. Pain can also be safely addressed without opioids. For a list of suggestions, see “15 Natural Remedies for Back Pain.”
June 28, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the New York city health department has the right to require annual flu vaccinations for children attending child care and preschool
June 26, 2018, the California state Senate Committee on Human Services passed AB 1992 on June 26 — a controversial bill that eliminates the personal belief vaccine exemption for families on welfare
Recent research found infectious influenza viruses in the exhaled breath of people who had gotten seasonal flu shots and contracted influenza. Those vaccinated two seasons in a row shed a greater viral load of influenza A virus
According to the researchers, study results suggest there may be an association between flu vaccinations and the promotion of lung inflammation and increased shedding of influenza A viruses via breathing
Studies also show annual vaccination leads to reduced protection against influenza; each vaccination is likely to make you progressively more prone to getting sick from influenza
By Dr. Mercola – July 10, 2018
Recent events again highlight the need for Americans to stand up for their right to know, and freedom to choose, when it comes to medical risk taking. The New York Court of Appeals not only has given the nod of approval to New York City’s health department requirement that all preschoolers must get annual flu shots, but the California legislature is also moving toward eliminating the personal belief vaccine exemption for families on welfare.
Aside from the loss of the human right to informed consent to medical risk taking, these decisions are all the more incomprehensible considering the lack of scientific evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of annual flu vaccination from cradle to grave and one-size-fits-all vaccination policies and laws. Again and again, we see vaccine policy built on lobbying dollars without real concern for human health and welfare.
Informed Consent to Medical Risk Taking Is a Basic Human Right
As noted by National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) president Barbara Loe Fisher in her Independence Day commentary on zero tolerance vaccine laws,1 “Today, we are witnessing the erosion of core values that our constitutional democracy was founded upon. One example is a public campaign led by the medical establishment to demonize and discriminate against anyone opposing zero tolerance vaccine laws that violate human rights in the name of public health.”
Informed consent is a basic human right in which a person has the ability to voluntarily accept or reject a treatment or medical procedure, including use of pharmaceutical products, after being fully informed of all possible risks and benefits. According to the University of Washington School of Medicine,2 “The most important goal of informed consent is that the patient has an opportunity to be an informed participant in her health care decisions.”
It’s a simple enough premise, but throughout history we’ve seen cases where informed consent was not only challenged but completely ignored, and this trend not only exists to this day, it has flourished in recent years, with cities, states and federal government pushing for mandatory vaccine laws with no ability to opt out. As noted by Fisher:3
“There are only two laws that require American citizens to risk their lives. The first is a federal law, the military draft, which requires all healthy male adults to risk their lives in a war declared by the government to protect national security. The second is a state law requiring all healthy children to risk their lives in a war that doctors declared on microbes two centuries ago.
However, unlike adults who are NOT punished for following their conscience and refusing to fight in a war to protect national security, parents CAN be punished for following their conscience and refusing to risk their children’s lives in a war to theoretically protect the public health.
State sanctions include segregation and loss of the unvaccinated child’s right to a school education or permitting pediatricians to deny medical care to children if their parents refuse one or more government recommended vaccinations.
Two different laws that require healthy Americans to risk injury or death: one conscripting adults in what government clearly defines as an emergency military action; and the other conscripting children in a mandatory vaccination program that is not defined as an emergency military action but is operated like one.”
New York City Gets Green Light to Require Annual Flu Vaccinations for Preschoolers
Case in point, June 28, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the New York City health department has the right to require flu vaccination for preschoolers. The requirement was initiated in 2013 by city public health officials.
Five families sued the health department in 2015 to have the requirement overturned and two lower court rulings agreed the city had overstepped its legal authority. This final decision by the Court of Appeals now cements the city’s legal right to require flu shots for children aged 6 to 59 months before they’re permitted to attend child care or preschool. In the decision, Judge Leslie Stein wrote:4
“Undisputedly, there is a very direct connection between the flu vaccine rules and the preservation of health and safety. The rules challenged here do not relate merely to a personal choice about an individual’s own health but, rather, seek to ensure increased public safety and health for the citizenry by reducing the prevalence and spread of a contagious infectious disease within a particularly vulnerable population.”
In response to the decision, New York City health commissioner Mary Bassett said:5
“Vaccines save lives and are an effective public health tool to prevent the spread of disease. The severity of this past influenza season reminds us of how deadly influenza can be. The influenza vaccine is the best protection against seasonal influenza for everyone.
Children who receive the influenza vaccine are less likely to get sick, less likely to need medical attention and less likely to die from influenza. This decision will help us protect more than 150,000 children in city-regulated day cares and preschools across the city.”
‘Vaccine-Before-Welfare’ Bill Moves Forward in California
Meanwhile, the California state Senate Committee on Human Services passed AB 19926 June 26 — a controversial bill that eliminates the personal belief vaccine exemption for families on welfare. Already, welfare recipients are required by state law to be up to date on all government mandated vaccines or lose a portion of their welfare benefits.
AB 1992, authored by Assemblyman Kansen Chu, improves access to the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS) program — a public assistance program that provides financial aid and services — for families whose children are not fully vaccinated or have difficulty proving that their children have received the required vaccinations.
Estimates suggest 4,000 families in California are not meeting the vaccine requirement for public assistance, and this bill would give families who want to vaccinate their children greater access to vaccination services.
The bill also lowers the monthly penalty for not being fully vaccinated from $130 to $50, extends the time that families have to produce vaccination records from 45 days to six months, and grants county welfare workers access to medical databases to determine whether the child has received the required vaccines in cases where parents cannot produce the records.
However, the bill also eliminates the personal belief exemption, which means welfare recipients would no longer have the legal right or ability to opt out of vaccine requirements. Candace Connelly testified before the committee, saying “her choice not to vaccinate her children shouldn’t preclude her from receiving benefits.”
According to a report by GV Wire,7 Connelly “objected to the 72 doses required in a child’s lifetime, noting the potential for vaccine injury. ‘Surely if parents have rights, one of them is to decide what gets injected into their children … I don’t believe I should have money taken out of my benefits because I don’t think that is a safe thing for my child.'”
AB 1992 Moves to Senate Appropriations Committee
Chu’s reasoning for including this provision in his bill is that the personal belief exemption from vaccines to attend public and private school was already removed by SB 277 in 2015.8 According to Chu, removing the personal belief vaccine exemption for welfare recipients simply makes the bill “comply with current law.”9 Sen. Janet Nguyen objected to the removal of the personal belief exemption.10
Sen. Connie Leyva also objected, saying “I believe requiring proof of vaccinations in order for someone to receive their benefits is unfair and unnecessary. We should not be basing it off their need, and not off of vaccinations.” Stefanie Fetzer, an advocate with Parents United 4 Kids, also commented:11
“This is NOT a public health issue. Vaccination rates are high. There is no crisis mitigating such a heavy handed, totalitarian piece of legislation. Our legislators are testing the water. How far can they go? Can they withhold a parents’ ability to feed their children if the parents are unwilling to ignore their religious or personal convictions? Why are our legislators targeting this poor, minority community?”
Fisher, on behalf of the NVIC, has also spoken out against the bill, saying,12 “It is cruel to withhold welfare benefits from families in need. NVIC opposes AB 1992 and any legislation that threatens Americans with punishment for making voluntary vaccine decisions for themselves or their children.”
Despite objections, the bill passed 4-0 out of the Senate Committee on Human Services. Leyva did not vote and Nguyen was not present during the voting; the remaining committee members, Scott Wiener, Steven Glazer, Mike McGuire and Anthony Portantino, voted in favor. A seventh member, Tom Berryhill also was not present. Next, AB 1992 will be reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Why the Lack of Concern for Vaccine Safety?
In a series of articles, the World Mercury Project questions the apparent disinterest of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) in improving vaccine safety, choosing instead to engage in smear campaigns against anyone who questions the conventional dogma and who counters false vaccine safety claims with scientific facts:13
“In the face of snowballing vaccine scandals — from fudged safety trials that use other vaccines as placebos, to persistent use of neurotoxic aluminum adjuvants, to the accelerated rollout of unproven vaccines that may be causing more problems than they solve — these and other vaccine advocacy organizations are not only turning a blind eye but are … beefing up public relations (PR) intended to stifle discussion …
Due to the well-funded medical-pharmaceutical-media apparatus that endlessly repeat the mantra that ALL vaccines are safe for ALL people ALL the time, it is nearly impossible to get a fair hearing for common-sense questions about vaccine safety, no matter how urgent such questions may be.”
In addition to the AAP and IAC, the World Mercury Project also singles out three organizations that are closely allied with AAP, all of which “frame their aims in terms of cementing vaccine infrastructure and funding,” according to the featured article:
The 317 Coalition, whose members include vaccine manufacturers. The coalition’s focus is to increase funding to Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act, the law that governs federal purchases of vaccines. Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine, is on the steering committee, as are the executive director and chief strategy officer of the IAC
Every Child by Two (ECBT), which promotes the mandatory use of vaccines to state and federal legislators, supports the elimination of all personal belief vaccine exemptions and generates “vaccine safety talking points.” Here, Offit is on the board of directors
The Adult Vaccine Access Coalition, the focus of which is to lobby for “necessary federal policy changes” to boost adult vaccination rates
According to the World Mercury Project,14 ” … [T]he AAP, IAC and … ECBT are among the leading actors propagating misleading assertions about vaccine safety. All three are also actively lobbying legislators to effectively jettison informed consent in favor of mandatory vaccines.”
Leading Vaccine Educators Are Bound by Conflicts of Interest
The AAP, IAC and ECBT were also the focus of an investigative report into the partnerships between the CDC and non-profits promoting vaccines15 published in the British Medical Journal late last year. In the paper, “The Unofficial Vaccine Educators: Are CDC Funded Non-Profits Sufficiently Independent?” BMJ associate editor Peter Doshi wrote:
“[S]urvey data have documented that parental concerns over vaccination safety and timing are common, even among those whose children receive all recommended vaccines.
In 2015, a U.S. federal advisory committee warned that public confidence in vaccines cannot be taken for granted, and some prominent vaccine advocacy organizations are pushing for greater compulsion. But are these groups — which present themselves as reliable sources of information — providing the public with independent information?”
The AAP, IAC and ECBT all receive funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and vaccine manufacturers. AAP is also on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which determines which vaccines should be added to the childhood and adult vaccine schedules.
At the same time, these three nonprofits are also actively lobby for legislation aimed at removing religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions from state vaccine laws, which has been successful in some states like California.
This, despite the fact that federal law prohibits nonprofit organizations from using CDC or other federal agency money for lobbying efforts. According to Doshi, it’s unclear whether the CDC’s relationship with these three organizations has crossed into illegal territory, as he could not determine exactly how much money was received from the CDC and vaccine makers respectively.
But, as noted by World Mercury Project, “It is clear that when these … nonprofits receive grant money from CDC, those grants free up other monies for lobbying purposes.”
Doshi also notes that “These groups are so strongly pro-vaccination that the public is getting a one-sided message that all vaccines are created equal … regardless of the circumstances.” What’s more, their inherent bias and financial ties with the CDC and vaccine manufacturers completely undermine their ability to appraise CDC vaccine recommendations.
As it stands, there’s no one to counter and cross-check those recommendations because everyone involved is on the same pro-vaccine team. The drug companies manufacturing and selling vaccines have no incentive to look at safety issues either, as this would merely cut into profits and undermine the partial product liability shield given to them by the U.S. Congress in 1986 and the total immunity from vaccine injury lawsuits handed to them by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011.
Besides, 9 out of 10 of the world’s leading drug companies spend far more money on marketing their drugs and vaccines than they do on research and development.16
Flu Vaccine Allows Transmission of Disease, Study Shows
Getting back to where we started, the notion that “the influenza vaccine is the best protection against seasonal influenza for everyone,” is not supported by a large body of good scientific evidence. Recent basic science research into the shedding of influenza viruses adds yet another nail in the proverbial coffin of junk science that too often is used to promote seasonal flu shots.
The new study,17 published in the journal PNAS January 18, 2018, found infectious influenza viruses in the exhaled breath of people who had gotten seasonal flu shots and contracted influenza. Those vaccinated two seasons in a row had a greater viral load of shedding influenza A viruses. According to the authors:
“Our findings, that upper and lower airway infection are independent and that fine-particle exhaled aerosols reflect infection in the lung, opened a pathway for a deeper understanding of the human biology of influenza infection and transmission …
Self-reported vaccination for the current season was associated with a trend toward higher viral shedding in fine-aerosol samples; vaccination with both the current and previous year’s seasonal vaccines, however, was significantly associated with greater fine-aerosol shedding in unadjusted and adjusted models.
In adjusted models, we observed 6.3 times more aerosol shedding among cases with vaccination in the current and previous season compared with having no vaccination in those two seasons. Vaccination was not associated with coarse-aerosol or NP shedding. The association of vaccination and shedding was significant for influenza A but not for influenza B infections …
Finding infectious virus in 39 percent of fine-aerosol samples collected during 30 minutes of normal tidal breathing in a large community-based study of confirmed influenza infection clearly establishes that a significant fraction of influenza cases routinely shed infectious virus … into aerosol particles small enough to remain suspended in air and present a risk for airborne transmission …
The association of current and prior year vaccination with increased shedding of influenza A might lead one to speculate that certain types of prior immunity promote lung inflammation, airway closure, and aerosol generation … If confirmed, this observation, together with recent literature suggesting reduced protection with annual vaccination, would have implications for influenza vaccination recommendations and policies.”
Flu Vaccines May Do More Harm Than Good
Here, researchers provide evidence for an association between seasonal flu shots and increased shedding of influenza A viruses via breathing. They also note that other studies suggest annual flu vaccination leads to reduced protection against influenza, which means each vaccination is likely to make you progressively more prone to getting sick. The question that remains to be definitively answered is: Are vaccinated individuals with influenza more contagious than unvaccinated individuals with influenza?
Studies have also shown that getting flu shots makes you more prone to more severe respiratory illness (see below). Yet, New York City is willing to place all young children at risk for long-term complications from influenza vaccination — for what? To support the vaccine industry and meet a 100 percent flu vaccination rate for all children relentlessly pursued by public health department officials?
The flawed mandatory vaccination ideology pays no attention at all to studies that provide mounting evidence that vaccines can cause acute and chronic illness while failing to work as advertised.
The CDC and AAP direct doctors to give infants and children seasonal influenza shots starting at 6 months of age. Most studies find higher rates of health problems after just one or two flu shots. What’s going to happen to the health of children as they grow up if they are required to get a flu shot each and every year, starting in the year they were born? This simply cannot be shrugged off as a question that isn’t up for public discussion.
A 2017 article in Science magazine18 delved into some of the finer points about individuality and how people’s immune responses vary depending on a number of different factors, including the age at which you’re exposed to influenza viruses for the very first time.
That first exposure will actually influence how your immune system responds to influenza viruses for the rest of your life. Knowing this, what kind of adverse effects on healthy immune function might one expect when a child’s first exposure to influenza viruses are vaccine strain viruses created in a drug company lab that atypically manipulate the immune system to produce artificial immunity? It’s a gamble that no one has the answer to as of yet.
Mounting Body of Research Questions Validity of Annual Flu Vaccination as a Public Health Measure
Other studies have shown that:
With each successive annual flu vaccination, the theoretical protection from the vaccine appears to diminish19,20
A 2012 Chinese study21 found a child’s chances of contracting a respiratory infection after getting the seasonal flu shot rose more than fourfold, and research published in 2014 concluded that resistance to influenza-related illness in persons over age 9 years in the U.S. was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years.22
More recent research suggests the reason seasonal flu shots become less protective with each dose has to do with “original antigenic sin.” Here, they found that influenza vaccine failed to elicit a strong immune response in most participants,23 which was explained as follows:24
“What’s at play seems to be a phenomenon known as ‘original antigenic sin.’ Flu vaccines are designed to get the immune system to produce antibodies that recognize the specific strains of the virus someone may encounter in a given year.
These antibodies target unique sites on the virus, and latch onto them to disable it. Once the immune system already has antibodies to target a given site on the virus, it preferentially reactivates the same immune cells the next time it encounters the virus.
This is efficient for the immune system, but the problem is that the virus changes ever so slightly from year to year. The site the antibodies recognize could still be there, but it may no longer be the crucial one to neutralize the virus.
Antibodies produced from our first encounters with the flu, either from vaccines or infection, tend to take precedence over ones generated by later inoculations. So even when the vaccine is a good match for a given year, if someone has a history with the flu, the immune response to a new vaccine could be less protective.”
The flu vaccine can increase your risk of contracting other, more serious influenza infections
Similarly, a 2009 U.S. study compared health outcomes for children between 6 months and age 18 who do and do not get annual flu shots and found that children who receive influenza vaccinations have a three times higher risk of influenza-related hospitalization, with asthmatic children at greatest risk.27
The concept of heterologous immunity may account for these findings. Heterologous immunity refers to the concept that your immune system is directional, and that once you’ve encountered a pathogen, your body is better equipped to fight pathogens that are similar.
However, in the case of influenza vaccines, this directionality appears to work against you. By learning to fend off certain influenza virus strains contained in the vaccine, your immune system becomes less able to fend off other influenza strains and disease-causing pathogens. As noted in a 2014 paper on heterologous immunity:28
“Immunity to previously encountered viruses can alter responses to unrelated pathogens … Heterologous immunity … may be beneficial by boosting protective responses.
However, heterologous reactivity can also result in severe immunopathology. The key features that define heterologous immune modulation include alterations in the CD4 and CD8 T cell compartments and changes in viral dynamics and disease progression.”
In other words, while influenza vaccine may offer some level of protection against the three or four viral influenza strains included in the vaccine, depending on whether the vaccine used is trivalent or quadrivalent, it may simultaneously diminish your ability to ward off infection by other influenza strains and types of viral or bacterial infections.
Heterologous immunity is also addressed in a 2013 paper,29 which notes that “vaccines modulate general resistance,” and “have nonspecific effects on the ability of the immune system to handle other pathogens.” Researchers stated that:
“… [O]ur current perception of the immune system is … simplistic. It was, to a large extent, shaped in the 1950s with the formulation of the clonal selection hypothesis.
This line of thinking has emphasized the adaptive immune system and the speciﬁc antigen recognition and speciﬁc memory, which have been crucial in vaccine development, perhaps at the expense of examining cross-reactive features of the immune system as well as the memory capacity of the innate immune system.
Although tens of thousands of studies assessing disease-speciﬁc, antibody-inducing effects of vaccines have been conducted, most people have not examined whether vaccines have nonspeciﬁc effects because current perception excludes such effects.”
Flu vaccine doesn’t work well in statin users
Statin drugs — taken by 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 — may interfere with your immune system’s ability to respond to the influenza vaccine.30,31 After vaccination, antibody concentrations were 38 percent to 67 percent lower in statin users over the age of 65, compared to non-statin users of the same age.32 Antibody concentrations were also reduced in younger people who took statins.
Flu vaccine does not prevent most types of influenza
Independent scientific reviews have also concluded that flu shots have only a “modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost,” and have no effect on complications of influenza.33,34 Moreover, the influenza vaccine fails to prevent influenza-like illness associated with other types of viruses responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory or gastrointestinal infections during any given flu season.35,36,37,38
Vaccination does not lower mortality in the elderly
Research39 published in 2006, which analyzed influenza-related mortality among the elderly population in Italy associated with increased vaccination coverage between 1970 and 2001, found that after the 1980s, there was no corresponding decline in excess deaths, despite rising vaccine uptake.
According to the authors, “These findings suggest that either the vaccine failed to protect the elderly against mortality (possibly due to immune senescence), and/or the vaccination efforts did not adequately target the frailest elderly. As in the U.S., our study challenges current strategies to best protect the elderly against mortality, warranting the need for better controlled trials with alternative vaccination strategies.”
Another 2006 study40 showed that, even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die BEFORE the flu season ever started.
This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.
Flu vaccination during pregnancy raises your risk of miscarriage
Research published September 25, 2017, in the medical journal Vaccine41,42,43 found that women who had received a pH1N1-containing flu shot two years in a row were more likely to suffer miscarriage within the following 28 days. While most of the miscarriages occurred during the first trimester, several also took place in the second trimester.
The median fetal term at the time of miscarriage was seven weeks. In all, 485 pregnant women aged 18 to 44, who had a miscarriage during the flu seasons of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012, were compared to 485 pregnant women who carried their babies to term.
Of the 485 women who miscarried, 17 had been vaccinated twice in a row — once in the 28 days prior to vaccination and once in the previous year. For comparison, of the 485 women who had normal pregnancies, only four had been vaccinated two years in a row.
Vitamin D substantially outperforms flu vaccine
In a 2014 analysis44 of the available research on inactivated influenza vaccines, the Cochrane Collaboration (which is considered by many as the gold standard for scientific meta-reviews) concluded that:
“Injected influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza and ILI [influenza-like illness] … as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one influenza case, and 29 would need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of ILI. Vaccination may have little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations … or number of working days lost.”
For comparison, a 2017 scientific review45,46 of 25 randomized controlled trials found the number needed to treat (NNT) for vitamin D is 33, meaning one person would be spared from acute respiratory infection for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement. This evidence suggests that vitamin D supplementation is, at bare minimum, more than twice as effective as the flu vaccine. Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4.
Effectiveness of flu vaccine is typically below 50 percent
February 16, 2018, the CDC published interim estimates of the 2017/2018 seasonal influenza vaccine’s effectiveness for the U.S.47 The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness was 36 percent. Put another way, the vaccine did not work 64 percent of the time.
More precisely, vaccine effectiveness is estimated to be 25 percent effective against the A(H3N2) virus; 67 percent effective against A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses and 42 percent effective against influenza B viruses. In 2015, a CDC analysis48 revealed that, between 2005 and 2015, the flu vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time, so this year’s low effectiveness rating (36 percent) was no great surprise.
The Flucelvax vaccine introduced during the 2017-2018 flu season, grown in dog kidney cells rather than chicken eggs, was also a failure. Touted as a new-and-improved flu shot that would protect more people, FDA research found no significant difference between it and the conventional flu shot in protecting seniors.
While flu vaccines overall had a 24 percent effectiveness in preventing flu-related hospitalizations in people aged 65 and older, the Flucelvax vaccine had an effectiveness rate of only 26.5 percent in that population.49
Flu vaccine does not lessen influenza severity
While health officials are fond of saying that getting a flu shot will lessen your symptoms should you contract influenza, a 2017 study50 by French researchers, which aimed to assess the veracity of such claims, found it not to be true. Looking at data from vaccinated and unvaccinated elderly patients diagnosed with influenza, all they found was a reduction in initial headache complaints among those who had been vaccinated. According to the authors:
“Compared to non-vaccinated influenza patients, those who had been vaccinated had a slightly reduced maximum temperature and presented less frequently with myalgia, shivering and headache.
In stratified analyses, the observed effect was limited to patients infected with A(H3) or type B viruses. After adjusting by age group, virus (sub)type and season, the difference remained statistically significant only for headache, which was less frequent among vaccinated individuals.”
Flu vaccine is associated with serious disability
Permanent disability such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a risk you need to take into account each time you get a flu shot. As early as 2003, the CDC recognized the flu vaccine causes an excess of 1.7 cases of GBS per 1 million people vaccinated.51
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows GBS is the top injury for which people are receiving financial compensation through the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), and the flu vaccine is now the most common vaccine cited by adults seeking a vaccine injury compensation award.52
Shoulder damage is another risk, caused by improper injection technique.53,54,55 Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) includes chronic pain, limited range of motion, nerve damage, frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tears, and is typically the result of the injection being administered too high on the arm. This risk is particularly high when people get vaccinated outside of a doctor’s office or other clinical setting.
Many people getting flu shots in a public setting like a grocery store or pharmacy simply roll up their sleeves or pull down the top of their shirt, exposing only the upper part of their deltoid, thereby increasing the risk of getting the injection in the joint space rather than the muscle.
GBS and SIRVA were both added to the Vaccine Injury Table in 2017.56,57 By adding those vaccine complications to the table, vaccine-related GBS and SIRVA cases brought before the “Vaccine Court” in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., will be more likely to receive federal vaccine injury compensation.
In this lecture, immunologist Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D., author of “Vaccine Illusion: How Vaccination Compromises Our Natural Immunity and What We Can Do to Regain Our Health,” explains how vaccines damage your immune function, which can result in any number of adverse health effects.
And the main safety-researcher of the product was the company selling it to you…
Would you automatically assume the product was safe and effective?
But you see, that’s the just the beginning of the problem. Suppose the company’s research was cited thousands of times in the press, as the authoritative standard of proof—and anyone who disputed that research was labeled a conspiracy theorist and a quack and a danger to the community and an anti-science lunatic.
Would you begin to suspect the company had awesome media connections? Would you suspect some very powerful people were backing the company?
This is exactly the situation with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Read these two quotes:
The government’s Vaccine for Children Program (a CDC organization) purchases vaccines for about 50 percent of children in the U.S.” (The Atlantic, February 10, 2015)
“The CDC currently spends over $4 billion purchasing vaccines [annually] from drug makers…” (Health Impact News, October 24, 2016)
However, the CDC is also the gold standard for research on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. It turns out an unending stream of studies on these subjects. And the results of those studies are dutifully reported in the mainstream press.
Do you think, under any circumstances, the CDC would publish data showing vaccines are ineffective and dangerous? They’d be cutting their own throats.
“Well, we spend $4 billion a year buying vaccines from drug companies, but guess what? These vaccines are often dangerous…”
Every time you read about a CDC study on vaccines, keep this obvious conflict of interest in mind.
When, in 2014, William Thompson, a long-time CDC researcher, publicly admitted he and his colleagues had buried data that would have shown the MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism, he was throwing a stick of dynamite into the whole CDC operation. He was also saying, in recorded phone conversations, that the CDC was lying about vaccine safety in other studies.
This is why major media refused to cover or investigate Thompson’s claims. This is why they spread a blanket of silence over his revelations.
Thompson was threatening a $ 4-billion-a-year enterprise.
The CDC is both a PR agency for, and a buyer from, Big Pharma.
Speaking of PR, would you like to see an example of how the CDC promotes the yearly flu vaccine by lying egregiously about flu deaths in the United States?
In December of 2005, the British Medical Journal (online) published a shocking report by Peter Doshi, which created tremors through the halls of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), where “the experts” used to tell the press that 36,000 people in the US die every year from the flu.
“[According to CDC statistics], ‘influenza and pneumonia’ took 62,034 lives in 2001—61,777 of which were attributable to pneumonia and 257 to flu, and in only 18 cases was the flu virus positively identified.”
You see, the CDC has created one overall category that combines both flu and pneumonia deaths. Why do they do this? Because they disingenuously assume that the pneumonia deaths are complications stemming from the flu.
This is an absurd assumption. Pneumonia has a number of causes.
But even worse, in all the flu and pneumonia deaths, only 18 revealed the presence of an influenza virus.
Therefore, the CDC could not say, with assurance, that more than 18 people died of influenza in 2001. Not 36,000 deaths. 18 deaths.
Doshi continued his assessment of published CDC flu-death statistics: “Between 1979 and 2001, [CDC] data show an average of 1348 [flu] deaths per year (range 257 to 3006).” These figures refer to flu separated out from pneumonia.
This death toll is obviously far lower than the parroted 36,000 figure.
However, when you add the sensible condition that lab tests have to actually find the flu virus in patients, the numbers of flu deaths plummet even further.
In other words, it’s all promotion and hype.
“Well, uh, we used to say 36,000 people died from the flu every year in the US. But actually, it’s closer to 20. However, we can’t admit that, because if we did, we’d be exposing our gigantic psyop. The whole campaign to scare people into getting a flu shot would have about the same effect as warning people to carry iron umbrellas, in case toasters fall out of upper-story windows…and, by the way, we’d be put in prison for fraud.”
The CDC must turn out a steady stream of outrageous lies about the need for vaccines. If they didn’t, they’d have no way to justify the billions of dollars they spend every year buying the vaccines from drug companies.
Since the sold-out major media won’t connect these dots, I and others need to.
[Agenda 21 is in full swing and much of the public is still unaware or disbelieving, although, more and more people are waking up. TMR]
The majority of antibiotics in the U.S. aren’t used in health care settings for humans; they’re used in industrial agriculture, primarily in low, steady doses for purposes of “disease prevention”
In countries like the Netherlands, health and agricultural agencies release two sets of antibiotics data — one for human usage and resistance and one for livestock — every year
The data is clear and concise, in stark contrast to what is revealed in piecemeal fashion in the U.S.
In the U.S., however, there is no comprehensive collection of such data, despite the fact that knowing where and how antibiotics are being misused is necessary to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance
By Dr. Mercola
Antibiotic-resistant disease is a major health threat around the globe, such that illnesses once easily treatable with the drugs are now becoming deadly. The cause of the antibiotic-resistance epidemic is quite straightforward: overuse of antibiotics. “Resistant bacteria are more common in settings where antibiotics are frequently used: health care settings, the community and food animal production,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states1— and the latter category is of utmost importance.
The majority of antibiotics in the U.S. aren’t used in health care settings for humans; they’re used in industrial agriculture, primarily in low, steady doses for purposes of “disease prevention” (which also has the “side effect” of growth promotion, making the animals get bigger, faster). Despite this, exactly how and in what numbers antibiotics are used on U.S farms is a mystery, in large part because, as Wired put it, the data “isn’t considered an obligation owed to public health … it’s a political football.”2
Agricultural Antibiotic Usage Largely Hidden in the US
In countries like the Netherlands, health and agricultural agencies release two sets of antibiotics data — one for human usage and resistance and one for livestock — every year. The data is clear and concise, in stark contrast to what is revealed in piecemeal fashion in the U.S. As reported in Wired:3
“They [the data sets] are remarkably real-time, fine-grained, and coherent across categories — so much that, in the wake of a 2005 European Union ban on one type of farm antibiotic use, the Dutch data could show that drug-resistant infections linked to food didn’t drop as expected. That gave the government the proof it needed to recruit farmers into voluntary cuts in farm drug use. Antibiotic use dropped 60 percent in three years — and that time, they saw a drop in human infections.”
In the U.S., however, there is no comprehensive collection of such data, despite the fact that knowing where and how antibiotics are being misused is necessary to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance. Data on human antibiotics usage is compiled by a private company and available only for a steep fee. Pharmaceutical manufacturers keep track of veterinary antibiotic sales, which are then reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA).
The ADUFA requires drug companies to pay a fee to the FDA to help cover new-drug approvals and also requires them to release some agricultural data.
The FDA has released a limited summary of ADUFA data each year since 2009, but only in recent years has it been disclosed how antibiotics are dispensed on farms or how they’re used in different livestock species. Meanwhile, ADUFA is up for reauthorization in 2018, and some have tried to insert provisions that would allow drug companies latitude to use animal drugs without showing proof of their effectiveness for five years.
As Matthew Wellington, antibiotics program director for the organization U.S. PIRG, told Wired, “The lack of data is a problem because we know that antibiotics are vastly misused in agriculture, but we need more information on exactly how they are used to put in place the best stewardship practices possible … The less clear that data is, the harder time public health advocates and elected officials will have in creating best practices.”4
Antibiotics for US Pigs Prescribed at Nearly the Same Rate as for People
As an example of the kind of valuable data that could be gleaned from a comprehensive data set regarding U.S. agricultural antibiotics use is a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They found that about the same amount of antibiotics are sold for use in pigs as are used for treating humans in the U.S.
What’s more, administering these antibiotics to pigs routinely for disease prevention isn’t working, as pig diseases are on the rise.5Concerning findings from the report, “Better Bacon: Why It’s High Time the U.S. Pork Industry Stopped Pigging Out on Antibiotics,”6include:
Of all the medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S., 27.1 percent go to pork production while 27.6 percent are for treating humans
Compared to in 2000, many diseases on pig farms, including E. coli infections, pneumonia and meningitis, are much more prevalent
The U.S. pig industry uses far more medically important antibiotics than other countries, including seven times more per kilogram of pig produced than Denmark and the Netherlands, and twice as many as U.K. producers
It’s an eye-opening report, but the data to create it didn’t come easy to NRDC, even though it should be publicly available. “Robust information on the use of antibiotics in livestock production, including in pigs, remains scarce in the United States,” NRDC noted. “The lack of clear data unnecessarily hampers public and government efforts to reduce antibiotic overuse.”7 Dr. David Wallinga, a physician and senior health officer at NRDC further stated:8
“We’re squandering the miracles of modern medicine on pigs that aren’t sick — and for what? The drugs aren’t working to prevent disease the way producers hope — and if we keep wasting them, they won’t work when sick people need them either. Consumers are demanding responsibly raised meat — the companies that heed their call will have the market advantage and will help save lives in the process.”
Antibiotics Have Been Tied to Industrial Agriculture From the Beginning
In her book “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World,” journalist Maryn McKenna uncovered how chickens became big business, highlighting the instrumental role antibiotics played in turning chickens from primarily egg layers into a meat source. According to Gastropod:9
“In 1948, a British scientist, Thomas Jukes, was experimenting with adding vitamins and other supplements to poultry feed. Jukes worked for a company that also synthesized antibiotics, a new genre of wonder drugs that had just begun to transform human health, and so he decided to add a tiny amount of his company’s antibiotic to the feed of one of the groups of chickens in his studies.
His results were astonishing: the chickens on drugs grew 2.5 times faster than the hens kept on a standard diet. News spread fast, and only a few years later, American farmers were feeding their animals nearly half a million pounds of antibiotics a year.”
Today we’re seeing the catastrophic consequences of this practice.Seventy percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by industrial agriculture for purposes of growth promotion and preventing diseases that would otherwise make their concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) unviable. Low doses of antibiotics are added to feed as a matter of course, not only to stave off inevitable infectious diseases but also because they cause the animals to grow faster on less food.
“But there is a terrifying downside to this practice,” Scientific American reported. “Antibiotics seem to be transforming innocent farm animals into disease factories.”10 The antibiotics may kill most of the bacteria in the animal, but remaining resistant bacteria is allowed to survive and multiply. When the FDA tests raw supermarket chicken, they routinely find antibiotic-resistant bacteria to be present.11
FDA Allows Big Ag to Continue Using Antibiotics Virtually Unrestricted
The FDA issued voluntary guidance on agricultural antibiotics in 2013, asking drug companies to remove indications for “feed efficiency” and “weight gain” from the labels of their antibiotic products. They also required veterinarians to oversee any addition of these drugs to animal feed and water. Most companies agreed to comply with the guidelines and state they no longer use antibiotics for growth promotion purposes, but there’s a major loophole being exploited.
Instead of saying the drugs are being used to promote growth, they simply state they use the antibiotics for disease prevention and control, a use that is still allowed under the FDA’s guidance. In 2017, the FDA officially banned the use of antibiotics on CAFOs for the purpose of growth promotion and now requires a veterinary prescription for antibiotics on the farms. Yet, CAFOs saw little ramifications from the ban, which allows them to continue dispensing antibiotics as usual.
Meanwhile, in November 2017 the World Health Organization (WHO) called on farmers and the food industry to stop the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in healthy animals. WHO explained, “The new … recommendations aim to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine by reducing their unnecessary use in animals.”12
They cited a 2017 study published in The Lancet Planetary Health, which found reducing antibiotic use in food-producing animals reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the animals by up to 39 percent and may similarly reduce such bacteria in humans, particularly those who are directly exposed to food-producing animals.13
According to WHO, use of all classes of medically important antibiotics should be reduced in food-producing animals, while their use for growth promotion and disease prevention without diagnosed illness should be completely restricted.
Antibiotic Resistance May Kill 100 Million by 2030
In the U.S., according to CDC data, every year at least 2 million Americans acquire drug-resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result. Many others die from conditions that were complicated by antibiotic-resistant infections.14 Worldwide, 700,000 people die every year due to antibiotic-resistant disease, and it’s estimated that more people will be affected by it than cancer by 2050.15 What’s more, the problem is slated to get worse.
A 2015 report commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron estimated that by 2050 antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people, with the annual global death toll reaching 10 million, and the global cost for treatment reaching $100 trillion.
Less than 15 years from now, in the year 2030, antibiotic-resistant disease — if left to spiral out of control — is expected to have killed 100 million.16 One of the most common, and formidable, antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the U.S. is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
MRSA is a cause of skin infections that can spiral out of control, leading to bloodstream infections, pneumonia, infections at surgical sites and even death. In the U.S., more than 80,000 invasive infections and 11,000 deaths are caused by MRSA each year. Tens of thousands of Americans may also be vulnerable to life-threatening infections following surgery or chemotherapy.
One study estimated that up to 50 percent of pathogens that cause surgical site infections, and 25 percent of those that cause infections following chemotherapy, are already resistant to common antibiotics.17 If antibiotic effectiveness drops by even another 10 percent, it could result in 40,000 more infections and 2,100 additional deaths following surgery and chemotherapy each year.
A 30 percent drop in effectiveness could mean another 120,000 infections and 6,300 deaths annually, the researchers concluded.18Worse still, if antibiotic effectiveness declines by 70 percent, the U.S. could see 280,000 more infections and 15,000 more deaths as a result. Meanwhile, the U.S. is not taking even the basic steps of preventing worsening antibiotic resistance by restricting the drugs’ unnecessary use in animal feed.
Fight Antibiotic Resistance by Avoiding CAFO Meat
Even if the U.S. government chooses to stay silent on the issue of antibiotics overuse in agriculture, that doesn’t mean you have to go along with it. Increasingly, consumers are demanding sustainably sourced, antibiotic-free meat and other animal products, and by choosing foods from farmers doing it the right way, you can help prompt real change industrywide.
I encourage you to either buy direct from a trusted farm or look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo, a much-needed grass fed standards and certification for American-grown grass fed meat and dairy.19 The standard allows for greater transparency and conformity20 and is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals and meet consumer expectations about grass fed meat, including beef and pork, and dairy, while being feasible for small farmers to achieve.
An AGA logo on a product lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.21 In addition, the AGA logo on your meat and dairy ensures the animals were born and raised on American family farms.22 As antibiotic resistance continues to worsen, and with CAFOs representing ground zero for their overuse, avoiding CAFO animal products is perhaps now more important than ever.
—Two scientists discover that vaccines are contaminated, in the manufacturing process, with many small particles of metals that are toxic to humans when injected. Alarming.
The published research is ignored. Then the scientists are raided by police.
James Grundvig, at GreenMedInfo.com and the World Mercury Project, reports (3/17/18):
“Last week, the Italian police raided the home and science laboratory of Drs. Antonietta Gatti and Stefano Montanari. The police snatched all of the digital assets owned by the husband and wife team of nanopathologists, grabbing laptops, computers, and flash-drives—and with it, years of work and research.”
“Because Gatti and Montanari had taken their research of nanodust and nanoparticles…to what unseen contamination might reside in vaccines in 2016, they came under the microscope of the United States, European, and Italian authorities. They had touched the third rail of medicine. They had crossed the no-go zone with the purported crime being scientific research and discovery. By finding nano-contamination in random vaccines, Gatti and Montanari revealed, for the first time, what no one knew: Vaccines had more than aluminum salts adjuvants, Polysorbate-80, and other inorganic chemicals in them, they also harbored stainless steel, tungsten, copper, and other metals and rare elements that don’t belong in shots given to fetuses, pregnant women, newborns, babies and toddlers developing their lungs, immune and nervous systems.”
“When the scientists published their findings in January 2017, ‘New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines: Micro- and Nanocontamination,’ the logical next step for the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) should have been to open an investigation into their claims, hire independent scientists to run their own lab tests to confirm or refute the findings. If confirmed, then the healthcare agencies would enact new policies on safety of the vaccine supply chain, and enforce strict quality control and quality assurance programs.”
“But none of that happened. A year went by. It was cheaper for the authorities to attack the Italian scientists than upset the vaccine gravy train that supports the politicians.”
This is an official form of research: censorship by raiding the researchers.
Note that the two Italian scientists weren’t simply testing a batch of one vaccine from one manufacturer. There were looking at random vaccines.
Suppose this chilling disaster turns out to be endemic to all vaccine manufacturing?
For the ubiquitous “all vaccines are safe” pronouncement, substitute: “dangerous across the board.”