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Jeffrey Kluger: TIME to Be Less Condescending About Vaccine Safety

J KlugerBy Anne Dachel

We all know vaccines are a controversial topic.  The claim of a link to autism never goes away, no matter how many times the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plays with the numbers in their population studies to show no association between their vaccines and autism.  I've been reading press coverage of this issue for over 10 years.  I know who the worst of the worst are.
There is no major newspaper, magazine, or network in America where reporters are ever given the following assignment:
"We have to get to the bottom of the vaccine debate.  This issue affects every child in America.  It's critical that we find independent evidence to show that vaccines are safe and not connected to autism or other serious side effects.
"Look at the science on both sides.  Interview Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who's always being blamed for creating this controversy.  How does he support his claim?   Talk to some of the parents of the patients in his Lancet study.
"Find out how many researchers have drug industry ties that could influence their findings.
"Investigate the history of this mercury additive, thimerosal.   Look at the studies that show it's safe.  How is this different from the claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism?
"Talk to parents with autistic children.  Ask them if their kids started out this way.  If they were healthy and then developed autism, ask them why they think it happened.  Did it follow routine vaccinations?
"Look into the CDC.  Find out how many in the vaccine division have ties to the vaccine industry. Ask the head of the CDC, Thomas Frieden, why they've never done a studying comparing fully vaccinated and never vaccinated kids to see if they have the same health issues.
"Ask officials if they've ever researched to find out how many kids have the same mitochondrial condition as Hannah Poling--the girl whose autism was compensated.  Find out how many kids with autism have been compensated by the federal government.
"Search for adults with autism.  They're supposed to be out there somewhere.  Find out if there's a rate among adults similar to what's happening among children.  And don't just look for the high functioning ones.  Find the adults who have all the severe symptoms.  And find autistic adults who regressed into autism as children.
"Check out how many new vaccines have been added to the schedule in the last twenty-five years.  Find out if the effect of all these combinations has been studied."

This is what the Bob Woodwards and Carl Bernsteins of the world would be doing.  They wouldn't do a search of the CDC website or call up the local health department and blindly repeat the official line on vaccine safety.
Certainly no one ever assigned Jeffrey Kluger at TIME to honestly investigate the vaccine issue.  Kluger is the TIME's most pharma-friendly vaccine promoter.
Here are samples of his work.
How to Change an Anti-Vaxxer's Mind, Aug 3, 2015
Meet the Heroes and the Villains of Vaccine Injury, July 29, 2015
Jim Carrey, Please Shut Up About Vaccines, Jul 1, 2015
Meet the Latest Driver of the Anti-Vaccine Clown Car, Jan 30, 2015
RFK Jr. Joins the Anti-Vaccine Fringe, July 21, 2014
That Moment When You Must Have a Word With Jenny McCarthy, Apr 12, 2014
Everything Kluger writes hinges on the premise that there's really no such thing as serious vaccine injury.  In his latest piece on the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program he alleges that even if the government compensates someone for vaccine damage, it doesn't mean the injury was really caused by the vaccine; the government may just have wanted to settle the suit as quickly as possible.
Aug 19, 2015, TIME: Here’s How the Anti-Vaxxers’ Strongest Argument Falls Apart
. . .  In order to ensure that vaccines would be as affordable and available as possible, Congress thus created the VICP, establishing a trust fund for awards financed by an excise tax of 75 cents on every vaccine administered. Under the program, cases are adjudicated on a no-fault basis, with attorneys for the government and attorneys for the families arguing before one of eight special masters. The goal is to settle the matter as quickly and fairly as possible, though petitioners (the no-fault system avoids the word “plaintiffs”) who are unhappy with the special master’s ruling are free to take their case to the traditional civil court system.
. . . The goal is to settle the matter as quickly and fairly as possible, though petitioners (the no-fault system avoids the word “plaintiffs”) who are unhappy with the special master’s ruling are free to take their case to the traditional civil court system.
The standard the petitioners must meet to recover any award is a comparatively low one—the “preponderance of the evidence” rule of civil law, rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement of the criminal court system. In practice, that standard has been even more liberally construed in the vaccine court than it is in ordinary civil court, a fact that generally benefits the petitioners. More frequently still, things don’t go that far. In 80% of all cases brought since 2006, the parties settle, meaning that the petitioner recovers an award with no determination being made about whether the vaccine even caused the claimed harm.
“Settlements are not an admission by the United States or the Secretary of Health and Human Services…that the vaccine caused the petitioner’s alleged injuries,” says the HHS website. Claims may be settled for a lot of reasons, including “a desire by both parties to minimize the time and expense associated with litigating a case to conclusion; and a desire by both parties to resolve a case quickly and efficiently.”
. . .  Certainly, vaccine science is not fixed, and different circumstances lead to different law. The case of Hannah Poling, the 9-year-old Georgia girl who, in 2008, received a $1.5 million award when the court agreed that vaccinations contributed to her later-onset autism, rocked the medical community and only worsened the anti-vax panic. But Poling was a special case; she was suffering from an underlying disorder of the mitochondria, or the energy-processing organelle in the cells. This made her vulnerable to any oxidative stress that could, in theory, be caused by vaccines. Mitochondrial disorders are increasingly being cited in vaccine court claims, but the conditions are not common and are poorly understood. “The belief is that the vaccine triggers a decompensation,” says Krakow, “but this is controversial.”

Kluger once again shows himself to be clueless, cold hearted and deceptive when it comes to reporting on the safety of vaccines.  (And he has to hope that his readers' knowledge is extremely limited in order to pull this off.)
Kluger's piece on the VICP gives the program a rousing endorsement.  According to him, it's "well-publicized" and the standard of evidence is "a comparably low one."
And you don't even have to have a legitimate vaccine injury to win in vaccine court.
"Claims may be settled for a lot of reasons, including 'a desire by both parties to minimize the time and expense associated with litigating a case to conclusion; and a desire by both parties to resolve a case quickly and efficiently.'"
He dismisses the fact that vaccines can do harm by saying that your chances of having a vaccine reaction are "less than a one in a million."
Kluger ends the piece with this glowing summation: "For the literal one in a million who are harmed, the VICP stands by to help."
Kluger has to hope no one has read the news stories from November and December 2014 exposing the VICP as a system that doesn't work and has "heaped additional suffering on thousands of families," according to the Associated Press.
Dec 30, 2014, Associated Press: 'Vaccine court' keeps claimants waiting http://www.democraticunderground.com/1016110299
A system Congress established to speed help to Americans harmed by vaccines has instead heaped additional suffering on thousands of families, The Associated Press has found.

The premise was simple: quickly and generously pay for medical care in the rare cases when a shot to prevent a sickness such as flu or measles instead is the likely cause of serious health complications. But the system is not working as intended.

The AP read hundreds of decisions, conducted more than 100 interviews, and analyzed a database of more than 14,500 cases filed in a special vaccine court. That database was current as of January 2013; the government has refused to release an updated version since.

Caught in the middle are families that need help.

"The system is not working," said Richard Topping, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who defended the government against vaccine injury claims but resigned after concluding his bosses had no desire to fix the major flaws he saw. "People who need help aren't getting it."

Nov 21, 2014, New York Times: Feds Vows to Publicize Vaccine Injury Help Program http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/11/21/us/ap-us-vaccine-court.html?_r=0

Leaders of the nation's system for helping people hurt by a routine vaccination have vowed to better publicize the little-known program, while the judge who oversees the special vaccine court that handles injury claims worries that if more are filed, they will take even longer to handle than they already do.

The comments were made to government investigators, who released a report Friday about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program several days after an Associated Press story detailed the program's problems.

Congress created the program to quickly and generously pay for medical care in the rare cases when a shot to prevent one sickness likely caused serious health complications instead. The AP found that the program has heaped additional suffering on thousands of families, including delays that have stretched a decade or more.

Attorney Robert Krakow is cited in Kluger's arguments in his latest piece.
“In cases in which there is a lifetime injury, the award will be the equivalent of many millions of dollars,” says New York-based attorney Robert Krakow, who has represented petitioners in hundreds of vaccine injury claims. “It could be $20 million over a lifetime.”
I contacted Krakow to ask for his reaction to what Kluger said about him.  Here's what Krakow had to say.

You have asked me for a comment about Jeffrey Kluger's article, referenced above, in which he discusses the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Mr. Kluger engaged me in a brief interview, from which he used selected quotes in the article. Mr. Kluger's article is tainted by errors large and small. The questions he posed to me were, it is now apparent, targeted, for the purpose of plugging the responses into prefabricated arguments attacking advocates who argue that there exists a serious problem with vaccine safety in this country. I will address Mr. Kluger's claims in detail elsewhere, but I can best summarize Mr. Kluger's notions about the VICP as ill-founded, reeking of bias and plainly inaccurate. It is unfortunate that Mr. Kluger has chosen to abuse a respected journalistic platform to launch broadside attacks on straw man positions he lumps under the derisive "anti-vaxxer" label. It would more responsibly serve our community if Mr. Kluger used the Time platform to pursue a serious discussion about vaccine safety. Sadly, he has failed to do so.

Perhaps the most glaring distortion contained in Mr. Kluger's article is his claim that the VICP "was well-publicized at the time of its passage and is even better publicized today. Apparently Mr. Kluger is unaware that the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office strongly suggested in a November 2014 report to the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, that the government has failed to adequately publicize the VICP, despite a mandate in the law to do so.

 As soon as I read that Kluger said "the court" compensated Hannah Poling, I knew that Kluger was covering up the truth.  IF he'd truly looked into this, he'd know medical experts at HHS, not a special master in vaccine court, conceded her claim.
The most telling aspect of the Hannah Poling story was the reaction of doctors and health officials. (Something totally ignored by Kluger.)  Everyone reporting on Hannah cited her "pre-existing" condition.  We were told it was rare.  Experts of course were expected look into this since if it was true that mitochondrial disease and autism are related, shouldn't we know how many other kids are just as vulnerable?
And the government did go through the motions of pretending to address this at a meeting in June 2008 in Indianapolis.   A lot of experts came and from the comments made, no one wanted to look into what happened to Hannah Poling. They wanted this issue to go away and that's why Hannah's case is never brought up in the controversy today.
June 28, 2008, New York Times: Experts to Discuss One Puzzling Autism Case, as a Second Case Has Arisen
June 30, 2008, ABC News: Gov't Examines Link between Autism and Vaccines
I was especially interested in this statement made by Kluger:
". . . The goal is to settle the matter as quickly and fairly as possible, though petitioners (the no-fault system avoids the word “plaintiffs”) who are unhappy with the special master’s ruling are free to take their case to the traditional civil court system."
I talked with Wayne Rohde who authored the book, Vaccine Court.  He told me, "The Bruesewitz decision preempts all design-defects claims by petitioners seeking compensation against vaccine manufacturers."
Rohde said that a parent's chance of succeeding in civil court now was one in a million.  "Basically an injured party cannot sue a vaccine maker as intended by Congress in 1986."
Of course there is no comment section on this TIME piece.  Jeffrey Kluger can delude himself into thinking that he has struck a blow against the evil anti-vaxxers, but any informed reader knows exactly what TIME and Kluger are covering up.

Now here's the real problem Jeffrey Kluger, TIME and others in the media face when it comes to vaccines and autism:

They've never honestly and thoroughly reported on autism or vaccine safety.

They shut their eyes to Hannah Poling, they've never questioned why the agency that that runs the vaccine program is also in charge of vaccine safety, and they've eagerly assured us that each gigantic leap in the autism rate is always just more "better diagnosing."

They've relentlessly defended the safety of vaccines.  (I can't tell you the number of times a reporter has said to me, "I stand by what I wrote," as if he or she were defending liberty.)

 But the independent science, the parents who link their child's regression to their vaccinations, the aging out of a generation of disabled, dependent children who weren't here 25 years ago, and now a real-life whistleblower at the CDC raise too many questions.  The phony population studies used to prove safety will not stand up to the mounting evidence exposing a corrupt system of vaccine safety testing and oversight,  How long the media will continue to side with the perpetrators remains to be seen.

By Anne Dachel

Anne Dachel Book CoverAnne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of  The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which is on sale now from Skyhorse Publishing.


John Scudamore

"Kluger once again shows himself to be clueless, cold hearted and deceptive"

cold hearted = psychopath trait

Kluger bollocks/lies on smallpox http://whale.to/c/klugerbollocks.jpg

Robert Hamlinger

From “Ecoscience,” by John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology --

“Individual rights must be balanced against the power of the government to control human reproduction… Where the society has a “compelling, subordinating interest” in regulating population size, the right of the individual may be curtailed.

Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.”

Sam Keen, closing plenary session at Michail Gorbachev’s 1995 Global Conference in San Francisco: “We must speak far more clearly about sexuality, about contraception, about abortion, about the values that control the population, because the ecological crisis, in short, is the population crisis. Cut the population by 90 percent and there aren’t enough people left to do a great deal of ecological damage.”

Professor John Schnellnhuber, founding director of the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: “In a very cynical way, [global warming is] a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something –- namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people.” Schnellnhuber was one of three presenters at the June 18, 2015, release of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment.


Actually what’s being missed here his Kluger's high-flying, journalistic trapeze act. By seizing on the NVICP payouts that Posey brought up to preface the CDC’s whistleblower confessions as the ‘anti-vaxxers’’ strongest argument, he is slyly misrepresenting and avoiding the ‘anti-vaxxers’’ strongest argument. That is the actual whistleblower confession of research fraud. At no time does Kluger address this, settling instead to distract by entertaining the other irrelevant or unimportant matters with his self-host whistleblower videos embedded throughout his drivel. We have ad hominem attacks on Wakefield, and unsupported claims to explain the finding of increase autism in black boys, but nothing getting at the meat of the fraud itself. Indeed it’s a stupendous act of twirls and swirls fitting of the grandest circus performance.

John Stone

Maybe the Maxwell Smart of our time.

John Stone


Brilliantly observed but of course in terms of institutional dynamics nothing renders the policy dangerous so much as the fact that you can't criticise it, any of it, without being subject to some form of social humiliation if not professional sanction - at that point propaganda and bullying stand in for science. The government/pharmaceutical and now media complex have been doing this successfully for three decades - in fact they get better and better at it - which just makes the policy more dangerous.

The trouble is that most of the time people believe things not because they have the time to enquire into them (because most people don't) but because it suits them, and this is how societies organise themselves. It is also I suspect often how they destroy themselves.

You can see this in the cult of stupid leaders. Pharma is like the emperor with no clothes and the princess and the pea - the name Kluger means clever or smart in German, and I suppose in a kind of way he is - like someone who has bought into the cult of Stalin or Hitler - but from another point of view he is a bumbling oaf, or a preening bully. Vaccine ideology is junk - perhaps he sometimes sees it momentarily or perhaps he doesn't - but he doesn't ask questions because it is how he gets his status and how he gets paid.

We have to look at the social and institutional dynamics because they are incredibly powerful unchecked, and bound to leave science chewed up in their wake. Not to mention society.

Barry Stern

70% of the advertising dollars for TIME magazine, Fox, CNN and MSNBC come from the drug industry. Dishonest reporters like Kluger are simply the mouthpieces of this corrupt industry. Big Pharma wants to keep fooling the public to keep their flow of billions from vaccines. Follow the money, and you begin to understand the world.


BRILLIANT, Anne--your best work yet, and quite possibly, one of the best and most thorough assessments of mainstream media's reporting on autism out there.

You've left Kluger and the rest of the snakes no wiggle room at all.

Angus Files

And the money that pharma spends on dis-information in astro turf organisations sucking the sheeple rich, poor, famous et-al. Cancer Research UK for one, who promote chemo, and chemo as we all know has a 97.2 failure rate to all that take it..that's disinformation working for you all right, and the majority of the UK supports it.Kruger another kog in the wall.



We live in a time when what happens to other people and their children really doesn't matter much. These people represent the "Me First" generation. I wouldn't be surprised if Jeffrey Kluger isn't more concerned about his next vacation or dinner party than in any form of truth in reporting. I boycott those magazines out of principle. They are only interested in serving themselves, not in informing their readers. Every time I try to understand the logic of vaccine science it's like beating my head against the wall. For example, I have skimmed through several debunking articles on the CDC whistleblower case. They say that the William Thompson is incorrect in his version of the story because the CDC obtained valuable information from the Atlanta Georgia birth certificates, therefore the study is justified. But what I learned from doing 5th grade science experiments is that a new hypothesis, such as birth certificates are significant, would require a new experiment. You finish up the first one and draw a conclusion and then do a second that includes the birth certificates. But this is not the state of vaccine science and all those who defend it. In modern vaccine science it is perfectly permissible to change the criteria if the results don't meet the acceptable expectation. I can only conclude that Jeffry Kluger somehow missed 5th grade science and how to set up a science experiment. And I can only conclude that Time magazine readership also suffers from the same deficiencies.

Denise Anderstrom Douglass

Thank you, as always Anne. This is very good. I so remember being publicly belittled at work (I am retired, but still a nationally certified and state registered pharmacy technician) by a supervisor (who is a Doctor of Pharmacy) when the Hannah Poling decision made the news. I remember thinking to myself even back then... big self assured talk for a guy who has two daughters in college. Hope he doesn't live to be a grandpa who rues the day he won an argument about the safety of vaccines...

David Foster

I sure had a lot to say when I read this article from Mr. Kruger, but I was not surprised that this coward didn't want anyone commenting on his very biased, error ridden article.

These vaccine apologists never seem to be aware that the supposed benefits of the Vaccine Court, of reduced requirements for causation, do not even apply for any vaccine added to the recommended <> mandated list for the past 15 years. As hard as this is to believe, no new injury has been added to the NVICP Injury Table for 15 years, not even well documented reactions like GBS for flu vaccine, or the myriad reactions to HPV vaccines.

I wrote about this at AoA in my response to vaccine apologist extraordinaire Dorrit Reiss's ridiculous review of the GAO report on NVICP.



Thanks Anne. Whenever I see "I stand by what I wrote," I picture an arsonist "standing by" a blazing apartment building with a gas can in one hand, a zippo lighter in the other, and both feet on top of the hose leading from the hydrant. Yeah, right, you "stand by" while generations of kids burn. Heckuva job. Probably get a Pulitzer for that.

Note to reporters: Denying that there are problems with the vaccine program is hopelessly romantic and misguided. Vaccines aren't as safe or good as they ought to be, for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with autism. Assuming that public health will be jeopardized by doggedly investigating and questioning vaccine safety and efficacy is narrow-minded and presumes that science is incapable of coming up with a better, safer, more individualized alternative to the current program.

This is the crux of the issue: Public health officials have dug a deep trench for themselves, from which they poke up their heads and shout that Vaccines are Safe and Effective for Everyone, and One Size Fits All. They know this is untrue, so they are careful to avoid being sworn in before they say these things, but they are perfectly willing to lie to journalists in the hope that journalists will become the barbed wire around their stanky CYA foxhole. They are so dogmatic that anyone who dares ask questions or (god forbid!) does research is labeled an anti-vaxxer and their reputation is summarily executed (see Wakefield, Andrew). Somehow, reporters continue to fall for this, when on any other issue there would be loud bullshit klaxon alarms and twirly red lights going off in the newsroom. CDC and Phrma have co-opted the media and made them believe, falsely, that they are a subsidiary of Public Health Incorporated, and they are beholden to a vow of Omerta lest they be given the Wakefield treatment and find themselves accused of bringing about a resurgence of Deadly Disease.

Antigenic drift making current vaccines ineffective? Shh...don't mention that because (heh) everyone knows Vaccines Are Effective, instead let's just blame anti-vaxxer parents because it's too expensive to make better new vaccines. Give the kids another dose of the same stuff that doesn't work, so it looks like we're doing something, and put out lots of stories about how diseases are making a comeback because some people are selfish. Two birds with one stone, deflect criticism and turn it onto the enemy!

Measuring titers seems sensible, because some kids only need one dose for immunity while others need three or four and yet others have genes that mean they will never seroconvert no matter how many shots? Let's not mention that because (heh) One Size Fits All, and besides it would cost money for all that testing, and it might show that the vaccines' real world effectiveness is poor and that we really are all like snowflakes. Besides, what's a few million extra doses in the grand scheme of things, except extra risk (for the kids, not us) and extra money for the pharma companies? That's more for them to spend on advertising in your fine publication/network/website. Winning!

Cumulative neurological effects of adjuvants? Let's not look into that one too much, because (heh) Vaccines Are Safe, so we'll hide the risks by claiming adjuvants are actually harmless placebos during clinical trials. Nobody reads the fine print, and since everyone knows Vaccines Are Safe, they won't connect the dots anyway, and if they do we'll just brag about how much better we are at diagnosing tics and motor and speech delays, seizure disorders and vascular and motor neuron diseases than we used to be! It's all good for pharma AND doctors! Especially when journalists accentuate the positive!

Certain genetic halplotypes, races or genders are more susceptible to vaccine injury? Can't admit that, because Politics And One Size Fits All, and if we admit that's not true people might ask us to make better vaccines or allow individual schedules, and then how would the doctors and schools keep track of it all? It's like people think we all have computers with databases! It would lead to chaos if people could make choices based on their child's individual health. It's too hard. Instead, we'll shred the data, quietly compensate a few under non-disclosure agreements, and chalk the rest up to being sacrifices in the name of public health, but then we'll deny it ever happened and claim we compensated just to get things over with more cheaply and there is really no such thing as vaccine injury even though we have a whole program dedicated to it and ICD codes to describe it. Gotta keep people on board the SS Vaxtanic, right, so always report that IF it happens, which it doesn't, vaccine injury is...EXCEEDINGLY RARE! Like the steak the CDC bought you at that conference that time in Puerto Rico!

Turns out there are human DNA contaminants and adventitious agents in those vaccines, and maybe food-based proteins in the adjuvants, that could cause autoimmune disorders and food allergies? Let's keep that under our hats, assign a public/private task force to study it and put their data under lock and key with no need for public meetings or accountability, and call the medical journals to make sure they avoid publishing those studies in the future. Because as we all know, if it isn't published in a peer reviewed journal, it must not be true, so therefore you don't have to report on how vaccine sausages are made which is gross and complicated and sciency. Daubert rules!

Ad nauseum. Ad infinitum. Suos cultores scientia coronat. Aegrescit medendo. Ubi pus, ibi evacua. Veritas.

Birgit Calhoun

Excellent expose! I hope someone of account reads this and takes heed. I would like to add the following: When anyone, as I did, has a child with autism or other handicaps, it is very difficult to muster the strength and funds to go to court. What is more difficult is finding a lawyer, and what is even more difficult is having all the necessary documentation and knowledge it takes to ferret out the important parts of what happened to the child. Doctors are not giving you the time of day because they, too, are afraid of malpractice suits. Doctors don't give you documents. The home-life is a mess, the energy is not there to pursue if you want to find ways to sue. And most of all where is the money supposed to come from? It has already been spent for the basics of caring for the affected person.

go Rand

Seldom covered by the mainstream media, it is helpful to know that SIDS is now called SUD (sudden unexpected death).

The “infants are now safe” from this 6,000 deaths per year problem even though the dominate age group is STILL from 1 to 12 months of age.

The CDC is now thinking of changing SUD to SIDK… “Sh t, I Don’t Know”, which would make it even more simple for medical professionals.


"For the literal one in a million who are harmed, the VICP stands by to help."

Even if the one in a million is true, that would be one severe injury or death per one in a million DOSES, not vaccinees. How many billion doses are given? How many injuries does that amount to, according to Mr. Kruger?

John Stone

“Now, we all know that vaccines can occasionally cause fevers in kids. So if a child was immunized, got a fever, had other complications from the vaccines. And if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism."


Julie Gerberding, Merck executive and Director of the CDC at the time of the Hannah Poling case.

PS While it i

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