In more than fifty years of family practice, I have cared for many, many vaccine-injured children and adults, an experience that has convinced me that the vaccination process is itself a major cause of chronic, autoimmune disease, as has a sizeable body of reputable, published science reaching the same conclusion, which remains largely ignored for precisely that reason.
My 2017 book, Vaccines: a Reappraisal, was an attempt to restate that case, in response to the drug industry's massive campaign to enforce and indeed tighten the vaccination mandates that were already in place, by seeking to remove all religious, philosophical, and personal-belief exemptions, and to further limit even medical exemptions, which were always prohibitively difficult to obtain.
Their success in persuading many blue states to propose and in some cases enact draconian new laws of this type took the contentious issue of mass vaccination beyond its scientific dimension into the threat to fundamental civil and human rights that was always bound up with it: the right of informed consent, as enshrined in the Nuremberg Code, and the right of parents to make medical decisions for their children, both of which we all still claim to hold dear.
As the grandson of immigrants, and a lifelong Democrat and admirer of FDR and the New Deal, I've watched with horror as the far right has tried and largely succeeded in dismantling his legacy, downsizing all Federal agencies meant to serve and protect the public interest, and thus enabling large corporations and super-wealthy investors to bankroll and control the agencies that were meant to regulate and restrain them. A prime example was the drug industry's unopposed buy-out of the CDC, naming top executives to its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and rewarding other pro-vaccine advocates with lucrative positions in exchange for their support.
This cozy relationship has led the CDC to accept as official policy the industry's impossibly strict standards for what qualifies as a bona-fide adverse reaction to vaccines, to make the vaccines look as safe and effective as possible, even to the extent of falsifying the data from their own safety and efficacy trials to support those priorities. The industry achieved its consummate victory in Congress, with passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, excusing them from any financial responsibility for the deaths and serious injuries caused by their products, a free ride granted to no other industry, and creating a federal compensation program in which victims' claims are seldom reported and almost never succeed.
For all these reasons, I have always opposed the vaccine mandates, and regarded them as a basic and important issue for progressives on the left, on behalf of the thousands and thousands of parents who have had to live through the deaths and crippling injuries of their children from the vaccines they've voluntarily or reluctantly agreed to.
Yet what has happened is quite the opposite. Even the great Bernie Sanders, who never tires of berating the drug industry for its price-gouging, has remained blind to the institutional corruption I've been speaking of, and presumably still shares the all-but universal veneration accorded to vaccines by the general public. In the same vein, several state AG's recently won a great victory over various drug makers for overselling opioids and lying to the public, just as many if not most of the biggest firms have been repeatedly found guilty of major felonies; yet the CDC and the industry that controls it still enjoy a carte blanche that truly boggles the mind.
Ironically, the only organized political grouping that openly agrees with what I've been saying are precisely those champions of the far right whose primary mission remains the dismantling of the government's public-interest functions, and whose predecessors were the ones who made the present corruption possible, while Fox News and the other GOP-controlled media outlets are the only place where any criticism of the CDC and the vaccine mandates is tolerated, and Democratic Congressmen like Adam Schiff have directed social media to remove as "disinformation" any criticism of vaccines or official policy regarding them.
The main constituency that I feel impelled to speak for are the thousands upon thousands of aggrieved parents whom I spoke of earlier, who now look by default to the GOP as their only hope of deliverance, and may well have rendered Gov. Newsom's recent recall election, for example, a lot closer than it would have been without them. As I see it, that allegiance is a huge and terrible mistake. The GOP continues to attack the CDC just as it has in the past, not because it's giving the drug industry a free ride, but simply because it exists, as a government agency, and thus ultimately because of what it should be doing, protecting the general public from the greed of the industry. So they will attack it even harder, and end up betraying those same kids and their parents, if and when the Democrats can help it do its job of protecting them.
The apparent coincidence of the pandemic, and the urgencies arising from Trump's and the CDC's mishandling of it, have inevitably sharpened these same dichotomies to a fever pitch, by providing the perfect opportunity for both the industry and the CDC to achieve their long-standing agenda of universal vaccination by coercing virtually the entire population into compliance, running roughshod over our right of informed consent, and thus endangering us all, not least those who submit to it willingly and feel genuinely protected by it for the time being.
As a physician with progressive values, I keep asking myself what I and others of like mind can do to revive the CDC and hold it to its original mission, of caring for the injured, restraining a runaway industry, restoring our right to informed consent, and speaking out for good science and good health, at a time when those I most need and want to convince are desirous of even stricter mandates and thus apt to dismiss us as dumb, deluded, or scheming "anti-vaxxers" who think only of ourselves. In short, by some sort of truth-telling that has so far proved ineffective, we need to show the Democrats in positions of power -- our legislators, governors, mayors, District Attorneys, Attorneys General, judges, doctors, nurses, business leaders, and NGO's like the ACLU, the Brennan Center, and so forth -- that the science being invoked to support the mandates is junk science, designed to inflate a significant outbreak into a genuine emergency that endangers them as well as us, and ultimately serves no long-term interest but the bottom line of an industry that is already obscenely wealthy and threatens to keep us all under their thumb for the foreseeable future.
That miracle will not be achieved by arguing; I've already learned that the hard way. Whenever I try to discuss the issue with people whose political beliefs and values are similar to mine, they typically agree with Bernie that the drug industry is corrupt. But when it comes to vaccination, even those who avoid the flu shot, for instance, or have succeeded in reducing the total number and frequency of vaccines that their kids receive, are sufficiently frightened by the COVID to welcome the official assurance that the available vaccines will at least minimize the risk of serious illness and death, as they do seem to be doing, and even agree that the unvaccinated are mainly responsible for spreading the virus, preventing herd immunity, and thus ending the emergency. Nor can I blame them, for the lay public is has every right to expect that the CDC and those physicians and scientists in a position to know the truth are giving it to us straight.
So, once again, their blind spot is failing to see or refusing to acknowledge that the industry is controlling and corrupting the CDC. Like most people, the Democrats see it, alas all too accurately, as a polarizing political issue, simply because the GOP is united in proclaiming the opposite, and thus refuse even to entertain the possibility that what at least the more politically aware of them must fear deep down is in fact true, that the agency is largely bankrolled and almost entirely controlled by the drug industry, whose greatest profit center has long been the mandating of vaccines; that the companies that manufacture vaccines have repeatedly been found guilty of deceiving the public; and that the very real threat of the virus has been manipulated to heighten the uncertainty and fear that we naturally all feel. So the question becomes, how can we help our families, friends, and neighbors acknowledge, accept, and ultimately act upon the unpalatable reality that on some level they must already be preparing for?
It shouldn't be that difficult, because the other major industries in our economy have long since bought and corrupted the government agencies that were set over them in much the same way. The only difference is that vaccines are uniquely revered with all the fervor of born-again religion, such that the companies who make them are now excused from all financial and legal responsibility for whatever harm they cause.
This, then, is my dilemma; and it's made infinitely more difficult by the knowledge that my words, to the extent that they're persuasive, will also be seized upon and used by the far right to exacerbate the division and polarization that already paralyzes the government from taking any action that could change it, or indeed any effective action at all.
But what I fear if anything even more is that these efforts of mine and my colleagues will continue to be dismissed, just as they have been, and that more history will be required to change the way we see the pandemic: more variants, more boosters, more cases, more deaths, and more tragedies, such that people will eventually stop doing what they're told, and believing the official narrative that they want to believe, because it no longer works for them or is actually causing them serious harm. I can only hope and pray that it won't take that long.