Reviewed by Susanne Saltzman, MD
“Oh my God, I cannot believe we did what we did. But we did.”
– Dr. William Thompson, CDC senior scientist and whistleblower.
The documentary VAXXED: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe is an extraordinary film that is shocking in its description of an alleged cover-up by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — the governmental agency that is charged with protecting the public health. It came to light through disclosures by one of its senior scientists turned whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson. The evidence in this film could have far reaching effects if Congress would subpoena Dr. Thompson for his testimony about how the CDC had omitted crucial data in their final 2004 report that revealed a causal relationship between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism. Instead, it’s been over a year and Congress is still sitting on the original data sent to them by Thompson from the 2004 study before it was allegedly “sliced and diced” by the CDC.
There has been an exponential growth of autistic cases since the early 1990’s with an almost vertical curve since 2002 — from a prevalence of 1/166 cases to 1/45 cases(1) or 1,082,353 cases of autism in 2014 alone. The fact that the CDC might have known about the MMR-autism link as early as November 2001 may make this one of the single biggest fraud/cover-ups in medical history that has contributed to one of the worst iatrogenic medical tragedies of our time. Since the pharmaceutical industry is the most powerful lobby in the nation(2) and wields tremendous influence in both Congress and our major media outlets, as well as the fact that one vaccine can amount to $30 billion in profits for Big Pharma in one year, the facts about this case might never come to the public’s attention, making it essential that everyone see this film.
I want to make one point very clear: the film is not anti-vaccination or even anti-measles vaccination. This is despite massive claims to the contrary by the mainstream media. The film clearly states that there is a statistically significant increased risk of autism when the trivalent Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine (as opposed to the single vaccines) is given to children between the ages of 12 and 18 months.
The director of the film is Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a former prominent British pediatric gastroenterologist with over 140 published peer-reviewed scientific studies, whose reputation was targeted after he and his colleagues published a 1998 study in The Lancet demonstrating a link between the MMR vaccine and intestinal inflammation in children with regressive autistic behavior. The film shows Dr. Wakefield at a public press conference at the Royal Free Hospital in London, England in 1998 summarizing his findings from a 250-page review he completed of vaccine safety in children where he concluded that results, especially for the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, were “lamentable,” and he advocated for the single measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines to be given as an option for parents instead of the trivalent MMR version until the question of its safety was scientifically resolved. You clearly hear him at the conference supporting the measles vaccination program but strongly advocating that parents have the option of choosing the monovalent/single vaccines over the polyvalent one.
A crucial point highlighted in the film is the fact that there are no long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled safety studies done on vaccines as there are on drugs because vaccines are classified as a Public Heath Measure. Even more shocking is the fact that there are NO studies done on combinations of vaccines, yet we are sometimes giving our children up to six to nine doses of vaccines at one time. (See CDC Vaccine Schedule at end of this review.)
What followed Wakefield’s public testimony in the UK was a surge in demand by parents for the single vaccines which were still available at that time. However, soon after Wakefield’s testimony, decisions were made to withdraw the importation license for the single vaccines in England while Merck pharmaceuticals in the US suddenly stopped the production of the single vaccines as well, giving parents no option but to use the available trivalent MMR vaccine which had not been adequately studied for its safety. When he asked a senior person at the Department of Health why they would do such a thing, Wakefield was told that if parents were given a choice at that time, then it would mean the end of the MMR program. Wakefield states, “The concern was the protection of the program over and above the protection of the children.”
Soon afterwards, newspaper articles in the UK stating that Dr. Wakefield was under inquiry by the General Medical Council began circulating claiming that he had used fraudulent data in the 1998 Lancet paper (that linked the MMR vaccine with gut inflammation in autistic children) that had 11 other co-authors, including the most prominent pediatric gastroenterologist in the world at that time, Dr. John Walker Smith. The Lancet paper was retracted for reasons that were subsequently shown to be false in the English High Court, but the Lancet editor refused to reinstate the paper.(3,4)
I spoke with Dr. Wakefield at the VAXXED screening in NYC and he agreed to do an interview sometime in the future which will be a remarkable opportunity for us to hear from this incredibly honorable and courageous physician who has consistently advocated for safer children’s vaccines to the detriment of his career.
Now back to the film.
The film begins with Dr. Brian Hooker, an environmental biologist with over 60 technical and scientific studies in international journals, whose son was diagnosed with autism in 1998. At that time the CDC was beginning its studies on vaccines and autism and Hooker tried to contact them because he was deeply critical of the studies. The CDC decided that the scientist who would communicate with Hooker was Dr. William Thompson, their senior scientist. Hooker says “Because I was on his back, because he didn’t like what I was saying about the statistics, I received a letter from a CDC attorney in 2004 saying I was no longer permitted to contact the CDC.” Fast forward to 2014 when Hooker received a call from Thompson confessing that the CDC had in fact omitted crucial data in their final report of 2004 that did reveal a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism and that he felt “great shame” over the fact that he went along with it. Over the next several months, unbeknownst to Dr. Thompson, Dr. Hooker recorded their phone conversations (legal in certain states due to the “one-party consent” law) which included information on the confidential data destroyed by Thompson’s colleagues at the CDC that Thompson had saved and shared with Dr. Hooker.
Throughout the film there are testimonies and video footage by families whose children were developing normally until they received the MMR vaccine, after which they were never the same. One mother in particular, Polly Tommey, a co-producer of this film, describes in detail how her baby, Billy, who was developing normally by 12 months of age, developed a high fever and seizures within 48 hours of the MMR vaccine, followed by head banging, severe diarrhea and arrested development with an eventual autism diagnosis. His history actually revealed several rounds of antibiotics prescribed by his pediatrician for upper respiratory “cold-like” symptoms— “in case of infection”—before receiving the MMR vaccine. Interestingly, it was later revealed in the film by Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, founder of the Center for Autism and other Related Disorders, that most of the autistic children she treated shared two things in common: a history of excessive antibiotic use at an early age, followed by a severe reaction and regressive autistic behavior after the MMR vaccine. Knowing what we know today about the importance of the human microbiome for children’s health (the gut “houses” at least 70% of the immune system), one could question whether the overuse and misuse of antibiotics at such an early age might have caused severe “gut dysbiosis” thereby increasing the children’s vulnerability to the MMR vaccine.
Polly and her husband were encouraged to tell their story on a local TV program at the time and within thirty minutes there were 250,000 email hits which —for the first time ever — crashed the TV station’s computers. Hundreds of thousands of parents from throughout the UK were describing their experiences with the MMR vaccine (some saw changes in their babies after the Diptheria-Pertussis-Tetanus vaccine
The most difficult part of the film to watch—and the most heartbreaking—was the videos of perfectly normal babies and their sudden regression into autistic behavior within a few days to weeks of receiving the MMR vaccine. I watched footage of beautiful babies smiling, babbling, walking and interacting with their parents at around 12 months, only to watch them begin seizing and head banging within a few days of the vaccine. Over the weeks and months, they developed severe intestinal problems, became listless and disconnected with a “vacant stare.” Their normal development was arrested and these children were later diagnosed autistic.
At this point in the film, Dr. Andrew Wakefield described a brief history of the MMR vaccine which rivals any Hollywood horror movie, except, of course, that this is a true story with disastrous consequences for real-life families. In 1987, the trivalent MMR vaccine produced by Smith-Kline Beecham was introduced under the name of Trivirix in Canada, then quickly withdrawn when it caused outbreaks of meningitis in children. However, that same month the same vaccine was introduced in the UK under another name called Pluserix (also by Smith-Kline Beecham)) and caused various outbreaks of meningitis until it was finally withdrawn four years later in 1992 (due to public outcry). At that point, Wakefield said it should have been destroyed, but instead it was shipped to developing countries like Brazil where a mass vaccination campaign resulted in an epidemic of meningoencephalitis.
Scientists studied this epidemic and discovered that the risk of meningitis was directly associated with the age of exposure; the younger the child was when they received the MMR vaccine, the greater the risk of meningitis. (What I found fascinating about this study was that it showed that the risk was greater in children receiving the MMR vaccine at 4-8 years compared to those who received it at 9-11 years, yet we give it to our children at 12-18 months). So Wakefield and others asked, “Is there a similar risk with autism, is age of exposure to MMR a risk for autism just as it was for meningitis? Dr. Wakefield is then seen on C-Span sharing this hypothesis with the CDC and the US Congress on April 6, 2000, where he is clearly stating that this does not prove that the MMR vaccine causes autism, just that further studies need to be done. It was, in fact, Dr. Wakefield’s testimony that inspired Dr. Brian Hooker to begin studying and requesting more data from the CDC.
How did the CDC allegedly cover-up the data?
Hooker began analyzing the data from the original 2004 study (Thompson found a legal loophole that allowed him to expose potentially classified documents to Hooker) and he discovered that Black children(5) had a 2.4 times greater risk of autism (164% increase) if the MMR vaccine was given between the ages of 12 and 18 months in comparison to those children who received the MMR vaccine after 3 years of age. Since autism is 4 times more common in boys, when data was analyzed for Black males only, the relative risk (RR) increased to 3.36, meaning that the risk of autism was 236% greater in Black boys if they were given the MMR vaccine between 12-18 months as compared to 3 years of age.
Thompson presented this data to his CDC colleagues back in November 2001 (it took 6 months from May 2001 to December 2001 to analyze the data from the study.) He then told Hooker that from October 2002 to February 2004 he and four other CDC scientists sat behind closed doors and proceeded to omit, “slice and dice,” and literally throw out data that they did not want revealed. These scientists were Coleen Boyle, PhD, the CDC Disabilities Division Director, Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsop, MD, Frank Destefano, MD, CDC director of immunization safety, and Tanya Bhasin, post-graduate research associate. To conceal data on the autism-vaccine connection for Black children, these researchers went about changing the analysis plan by reducing the number of children in the study to decrease its statistical power. How exactly was this done?
Since only 50% of the children were born in Georgia, instead of using school records, only the Georgian birth records were used which decreased the number of children in the study from 3000 to 1800. This decreased the relative risk (RR) from 2.64 to 1.8 which meant that the data was no longer statistically significant. What did the data show about the risk for all healthy children (of all ethnicities) who received the MMR between 12 and 18 months?
Don’t miss Part II, in the June edition of the American Journal of Homeopathy, where you will also learn about Thompson’s attempts to reveal what was going on to his superiors and information on the 1986 National Child Vaccine Injury Act, which Jim Moody, public interest attorney, states was a large motivation for the alleged cover-up.
Susanne Saltzman, MD
Editor, American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine
Review first published in the May edition of the American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine
- The CDC used the grouping Black and White/Other
Figure 1. Recommended immunization schedule for persons aged 0 through 18 years – United States, 2016. (Click on image to enlarge)