Dr. Kelly Brogan, author of A Mind of Your Own,1 has written about the medicalization of pregnancy in her blog, suggesting that “the modern woman has handed over her inner compass” when it comes to maternal vaccination. I couldn’t agree more. Proponents say vaccination during pregnancy is a vital preventive measure in routine obstetric care that serves to protect mother, fetus and infant; however, one need read only the information provided in vaccine manufacturers’ package inserts and on the websites of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find a blatant lack of safety testing, a long list of toxic ingredients and admission of efficacy problems.
The truth is that vaccines recommended for pregnant women have never been properly studied, nor have they been proven safe, yet women all over the world are accepting these medical interventions without question. It is as though women are under the spell of those in white coats, unconsciously suppressing or relinquishing part of the same nurturing instincts that naturally make women want to protect their unborn babies from things like cigarette smoke, alcohol and other toxic exposures.
It’s easy to see why women have, in Dr. Brogan’s words, “permitted doctors and pharmaceutical companies privileged access to their fierce and primitive drive toward protecting a pregnancy.” After all, we’ve been taught not to question the safety and efficacy of vaccines. We’ve been spoon-fed the fairytale that vaccines have successfully eradicated and reduced “vaccine-preventable diseases,” when statistics from the past two hundred years actually reveal that infectious diseases declined at least 90 percent before vaccines were ever introduced.2 As Sally Fallon Morell (founding president of the Weston A. Price Foundation) points out in her book The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care3 (with Thomas Cowan, MD), “experts attribute the cessation of epidemic diseases not to mass vaccination, but to a major sanitation reform movement that swept Europe and America during the late 1800s and early 1900s.”
We have also been sold on the idea that vaccines have directly increased life expectancy in the U.S. But is this true? Statistics show that America has the highest first-day infant death rate of all industrialized countries,4 ranks number thirty-one among nations in infant mortality5 and is number fifty worldwide in maternal mortality.6 Ours is the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents. Over fifty percent of all American children are chronically ill with asthma, allergies, epilepsy, autism (one in thirty-six) and other learning and behavioral disabilities.7 These are dismal statistics considering that the U.S. spends over three trillion dollars per year on health care (over ten thousand dollars per person in 2016)8 and that we are the most heavily vaccinated population on earth.
TARGETING PREGNANT WOMEN
One way in which these health care monies are spent is by vaccinating pregnant women with influenza and Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis) vaccines. The first of these vaccines is given to prevent the flu and the second primarily to prevent pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough. Medical trade organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorse both vaccines for pregnant women.
Are these endorsements sound? As stated by Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), “With these recommendations, the time-honored rule of avoiding any potential toxic exposure that might interfere with the normal development of the fetus has been suspended and replaced with an assumption that vaccination during pregnancy is safe.”
INFLUENZA VACCINE RECOMMENDATIONS AND EVIDENCE
In the past, clinicians generally considered it too risky to vaccinate pregnant women. Obstetricians largely ignored CDC recommendations introduced in the 1970s advising them to give influenza vaccines to pregnant women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. In 2006, CDC officials strengthened their recommendations, directing doctors to give all pregnant women—healthy or not—a flu shot during any trimester. Today, the CDC’s website advertises in bold print, “Protect yourself and your baby by getting a flu shot!” Not advertised in bold print is the fact that influenza vaccines have never been properly studied, carry a high rate of side effects, are made from toxic ingredients and have a terrible efficacy rate.
In addition to its overt advertising campaign, the CDC assures the public that flu vaccines are safe by stating, “The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies.” The problem with this statement is that it is not based on anything scientific. How can the CDC make such claims when vaccine manufacturers themselves readily admit that their vaccines were not studied in pregnant women before they were licensed? Package inserts for flu vaccines clearly read: “Safety studies and effectiveness have not been established in pregnant women or nursing mothers.” In fact, no flu vaccine (or any other vaccine) has ever undergone a gold standard, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in any population. Whereas it takes years for a new drug to be clinically tested and approved,9 the seasonal influenza vaccines that manufacturers create each year are exempt from this lengthy process. Every year, after the influenza vaccines are tested in several hundred people at most, the FDA grants them automatic approval, skirting around the need to demand more than a few safety or efficacy tests by defining the new vaccine formulations as “manufacturing supplements” instead of new products.10
Although there may not be any worthy prelicensure studies, there have been some notable studies on flu vaccines post-licensure. The CDC published a study in 2017 titled, “Association of spontaneous abortion with receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine containing H1N1pdm09 in 2010-11 and 2011-12.”11 The study showed that women vaccinated with the inactivated influenza vaccine in the 2010-11 flu season had a 3.7-fold greater chance of experiencing a spontaneous abortion within twenty-eight days compared to women not receiving the vaccine. It also showed that for women who received the H1N1 flu vaccine in the previous flu season, their odds of spontaneous abortion within twenty-eight days of receiving a flu vaccine were 7.7 times greater. Another study, conducted in 2009 by the Canadian government, found additional fault with H1N1 vaccines. Researchers reported evidence that seasonal influenza vaccination actually increased the risk and severity of pandemic influenza type A (H1N1) illness.12
At a presentation at Belhaven College in 2008, Russell Blaylock, MD said, “I cannot think of anything more insane than vaccinating pregnant women.”13 Dr. Blaylock explained that the campaign to administer the flu vaccine to pregnant women arose out of the observation that women who get the flu during their second trimester of pregnancy have children with a higher incidence of subsequent schizophrenia or autism. But is the flu virus responsible for the increased neurological damage? According to Dr. Blaylock, it’s not. Blaylock explains, “It is when the mother’s immune system reacts to the virus. The immune chemicals called cytokines transfer through her placenta into the baby, and it’s the cytokines—the immune reaction of her body—that causes the destruction in the baby’s brain and the altered development of the baby’s brain.”
A paper published in The Journal of Neuroscience in 2006 supports Dr. Blaylock’s statement.14 Titled “Maternal infection and the offspring brain,” the author wrote, “Cytokines released by the maternal immune system can cross the placenta and enter the fetal circulation. It is well known that cytokines can modulate neuronal proliferation, survival, differentiation and function. Thus, cytokines released by the natural immune system (and/or the placental or fetal immune system) in response to infection may be responsible for the interaction between maternal infection during pregnancy, altered neuronal development and mental disorders.” According to Dr. Blaylock, “We are probably going to see a tremendous increase in schizophrenia and autism in children because we are stimulating the immunity of every pregnant woman with the flu shot.”13
INFLUENZA VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS AND INGREDIENTS
Influenza is by definition a viral infection of the respiratory passages that may cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and muscle aches. Although the CDC says you cannot get the flu from the flu shot, influenza vaccine package inserts list many of these same symptoms as potential vaccine side effects. Other possible “side effects” of flu shots include but are not limited to allergic reaction causing serum sickness, Bell’s palsy, brachial plexus nerve disorder, cellulitis, decreased blood platelets, disorder of nerve, disorder of brain, giant hives, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), inflamed spinal cord, life-threatening allergic reaction, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, sudden blindness, difficult breathing and death.
Influenza vaccines also contain ingredients that should concern pregnant women. Although the ingredients vary somewhat by vaccine formulation, a flu shot typically includes at least some of the following toxic substances: thimerosal (with twenty-five micrograms of mercury found in the vast majority of flu shots), formaldehyde, chicken egg proteins, polysorbate 80, squalene, gelatin, antibiotics and canine kidney cells. Additionally, flu shots contain viruses (and/or retroviruses) of both human and animal origin.
Recent research from Italy also found inorganic, foreign nanoparticles—not declared in the manufacturers’ inserts—in all human-use vaccines studied, including a variety of metallic particles.15 According to the Italian authors, “The inorganic particles identified are neither biocompatible nor biodegradable, that means that they are biopersistent and can induce effects that can become evident either immediately close to injection time or after a certain time from administration. It is important to remember that particles…are bodies foreign to the organism and they behave as such. […] For that reason, they induce an inflammatory reaction.”15 The foreign bodies included lead particles found in the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil (which was originally given to pregnant women) as well as in flu and meningitis vaccines. Other detected metals included stainless steel, iron, chromium and nickel. GlaxoSmithKline’s Fluarix vaccine for children featured eleven different types of metallic particles.
In 2016, Moms Across America presented disconcerting evidence to the FDA showing that the advocacy group detected cancer-causing glyphosate (the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup) in all five childhood vaccines they tested.16
INFLUENZA VACCINE EFFECTIVENESS
There are also recurrent problems regarding the effectiveness of influenza vaccines. Public health officials are willing to admit that flu vaccines in general fail more than 50 percent of the time, but an independent gold standard Cochrane Review published in 2018 reported that flu shots have an astounding 98 to 99 percent failure rate.17 For the 2017-18 flu season, the CDC reported that the vaccine for the most prevalent strain, influenza A (H3N2), was only 25 percent effective.18 Canada19 and Australia20 reported just 10 percent effectiveness for that strain in adults. This means that the U.S. vaccine had a 75 percent failure rate. Of course, this was better than 2016, when the inhaled FluMist vaccine went from an originally championed 90 percent effectiveness to a realistic rate of 3 percent (meaning that “no protective benefit could be measured”); this finding led to its removal from the 2016-17 recommendations.21
It is important to note that, by the CDC’s own admission, over 80 percent of all flu-like illnesses that occur during “flu” season are not influenza22 and, therefore, cannot be prevented by a flu shot. In fact, the CDC is notorious for exaggerating influenza mortality. The agency does this by misleadingly lumping influenza and pneumonia deaths together and trumpeting them as the eighth leading cause of death.23 However, as shown in the CDC’s own National Center for Health Statistics figures, only 9 percent (n=5,251) of the 57,062 reported “influenza and pneumonia” deaths for 2015 were attributable to the “flu,”24 whereas 91 percent (n=51,811) had pneumonia as their cause of death.25 Moreover, 4 percent or fewer of respiratory specimens typically test positive for influenza virus.22
PERTUSSIS VACCINE RECOMMENDATIONS AND EVIDENCE
The CDC began recommending Tdap vaccines to all pregnant women in 2011. Current recommendations involve giving the vaccine after twenty-seven weeks’ gestation, regardless of any individual considerations or risk-benefit analysis. The Tdap recommendation applies to each pregnancy, no matter how little time has elapsed between pregnancies.
It is puzzling that the CDC deems the Tdap vaccine “necessary” for all pregnant women, when it presented facts to the contrary in a 2008 report titled, “Prevention of pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria among pregnant and postpartum women and their infants.”26 The CDC admitted that no evidence exists demonstrating whether Tdap in pregnant women harms the fetus or increases risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Nor was evidence available to the agency to indicate whether transplacental antibodies induced by Tdap administered during pregnancy actually will protect infants against pertussis, or conversely whether Tdap-induced transplacental maternal antibodies will have a negative impact on an infant’s protective immune system response to later-administered routine pediatric vaccines (such as DTaP and various conjugate vaccines) containing tetanus toxoid or diphtheria toxoid.
The CDC’s main justification for vaccinating pregnant women with Tdap, despite its own abysmal report, is that the majority of children who are hospitalized and who die from whooping cough are under two months of age and are therefore too young to be vaccinated themselves. Rather than worry about the vaccine’s potential lack of safety and effectiveness, the CDC chooses to promote the theory of neonatal or maternal immunization as well as the so-called “cocooning strategy”—a strategy that aims to create a “circle of protection” around newborn infants by administering Tdap vaccines to mothers, family members and any individuals who come into close contact with the newborn.27
The cocooning theory has been seriously challenged, however. One observational study (again by the Canadian government) suggested that cocooning is not only “almost impossible” but also comes with a heavy price tag. The researchers estimated that to prevent one infant death from whooping cough in Quebec or British Columbia, “at least one million parents would have to be vaccinated,” at twenty Canadian dollars per shot.28 Another staggering government study from Scandinavia, not focused on cocooning, found that babies in Africa who received DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) vaccines were five to ten times more likely to die than their unvaccinated peers.29
TDAP SIDE EFFECTS AND INGREDIENTS
As with the influenza vaccines, recipients of Tdap vaccines are subject to a large list of potential side effects and toxic ingredients. Side effects include but are not limited to severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), brachial neuritis, coma, encephalopathy, epilepsy, GBS, long-term seizures, permanent brain damage and death.
Toxic ingredients in Tdap include aluminum phosphate, polysorbate 80, formaldehyde, bovine serum albumin, glutaraldehyde and 2-phenoxethanol. Studies show that neurotoxic aluminum crosses the placenta and accumulates in the brain.30 I have written previously in Wise Traditions (Spring 2018) about the dangers of aluminum in vaccines.31
PERTUSSIS VACCINE EFFECTIVENESS
The CDC promotes Tdap and other vaccines with a pertussis component not just for pregnant women but for people of all ages. The first set of recommendations (for the DTaP vaccine) is that babies and children get vaccinated at two, four and six months, at fifteen to eighteen months and again when they are four to six years old. In addition, CDC recommends a Tdap booster at eleven or twelve years of age. Why so many shots? The answer is simple: waning protective immunity is a serious problem with pertussis vaccines.
Another serious problem is that pertussis vaccines do not necessarily prevent the transmission of pertussis and, at best, simply may prevent vaccinated individuals from displaying symptoms of whooping cough. Therefore, vaccinated persons may be asymptomatic carriers and as such, may largely contribute to outbreaks. A 2015 study published in BMC Medicine, titled “Asymptomatic transmission and the resurgence of Bordetella pertussis,” made this very point.32 A 2014 study also supported this theory, demonstrating that giving baboons whole cell or acellular pertussis vaccines prevented them from developing severe symptoms of whooping cough themselves but did not prevent infection or ready transmission of pertussis to their contacts.33 Commenting on these findings, the FDA admitted that FDA-licensed acellular pertussis vaccines may prevent disease among those vaccinated but “may not prevent infection…in those vaccinated or its spread to other people, including those who may not be vaccinated.”34
A third problem with the widespread use of pertussis vaccines is that they seem to have created strains of pertussis bacteria that are more resistant to vaccination and—believe it or not—actually favor vaccinated individuals! CDC researchers have found that most strains now in circulation in the U.S. are “prn-deficient,”35 a form of pathogen adaptation, and vaccinated individuals are at higher risk of infection from prn-deficient strains than unvaccinated individuals. Jeremy Hammond sums up “the ugly untold truth about the pertussis vaccine” in a 2015 article, stating, “Now—ironically thanks to public vaccine policy—vaccinating children for pertussis not only places any infants in the family at risk of getting the disease, but also places at greater risk the vaccinated children themselves” [emphasis in original].36 This, of course, applies to vaccinated adults, too.
A HEAVY TOLL
In the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), influenza vaccine-related injuries and deaths are the most compensated claims for adults, while pertussis vaccine-related injuries and deaths are the most compensated claims for infants and children. This means that, according to our government’s compensation system, influenza and pertussis-containing vaccines are the most dangerous vaccines on the market, yet the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 shielded vaccine manufacturers, government regulators, policymakers and health care providers from any liability.
Laura Hayes from Age of Autism recently wrote,37 “Because not one vaccine has ever been tested properly (not to mention the myriad haphazard combinations in which they are most often administered), and because not one vaccine has ever been proven to be safe, effective, or needed…not one vaccine should ever have been approved, recommended, sold, or administered,” including, I would add, to pregnant women.38 The FDA and CDC should be overseeing the proper and ethical regulation and recommendation of vaccine products and services, but sadly both agencies seem to care more about protecting the interests of manufacturers than those of the public. Simply consider the fact that the agencies still allow mercury-laden thimerosal as an ingredient in the vast majority of flu vaccines, despite thimerosal only ever having been tested in humans once, in 1929, in a study in which all twenty-two subjects died shortly after receiving it.39 Likewise, the FDA has never clinically approved the aluminum-based adjuvants present in Tdap vaccines,40 but the agency allows them to remain in use. These facts are evidence that the actions of both agencies are unconscionable.
Truth be told, the only ethical measure is an immediate moratorium on all vaccines. In addition, to protect, maintain and enhance the health of pregnant women and their babies, we need education campaigns dedicated to time-proven, common sense and risk-free practices versus a policy that pushes risk-laden vaccines at all costs. Safe and effective practices include covering one’s mouth when coughing, avoiding contact with infected individuals, staying home and resting when sick, staying hydrated with filtered and non-fluoridated water, eating organic and nutrient-dense foods (especially those rich in vitamin A), reducing stressors and getting plenty of sleep. It is also critically important that women take charge of their health, their children’s health and their family’s health. To accomplish this, women must listen to their maternal instincts, question all medical recommendations and make time to do their own research. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of doing so.
1. Brogan K. A Mind of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal their Bodies to Reclaim their Lives. New York, NY: Harper Wave; 2016.
2. Vaccines did not save us—2 centuries of official statistics. https://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/graphs/.
3. Fallon Morell S, Cowan TS. The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. White Plains, MD: New Trends Publishing; 2013.
4. Manning A. U.S. top of list for first-day deaths in rich nations. National Geographic News, May 8, 2013.
5. Heisler EJ. The U.S. infant mortality rate: international comparisons, underlying factors and federal programs. Congressional Research Service, April 4, 2012.
6. Hanly K. The U.S. ranks 50th in maternal mortality globally. Digital Journal, March 9, 2014.
7. Bethell CD, Kogan MD, Strickland BB, Schor EL, Robertson J, Newacheck PW. A national and state profile of leading health problems and health care quality for US children: key insurance disparities and across-state variations. Acad Pediatr 2011;11(3 Suppl):S22-S33.
8. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. NHE fact sheet. https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/NHE-Fact-Sheet.html.
9. New drug approval process. https://www.drugs.com/fda-approval-process.html.
10. Marshall V, Gruber M. Influenza immunization during pregnancy: US regulatory perspective. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2012;207(3 Suppl):S57-S62.
11. Donahue JG, Kieke BA, King JP, et al. Association of spontaneous abortion with receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine containing H1N1pdm09 in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Vaccine 2017;35(40):5314-5322.
12. Skowronski DM, De Serres G, Crowcroft NS, et al. Association between the 2008-09 seasonal influenza vaccine and pandemic H1N1 illness during spring-summer 2009: four observational studies from Canada. PLoS Med 2010;7(4):e1000258.
13. Cáceres M. Doctors give flu shots to pregnant women despite evidence of harm to fetus. The Vaccine Reaction, June 30, 2015.
14. Depino AM. Maternal infection and the offspring brain. J Neurosci 2006;26(30):7777-7778.
15. Gatti AM, Montanari S. New quality-control investigations on vaccines: micro- and nanocontamination. Int J Vaccines Vaccin 2016;4(1):00072.
16. Moms Across America. Moms find weed killer in childhood vaccines: FDA and CDC MUST test. September 10, 2016. https://www.momsacrossamerica.com/tags/vaccines.
17. Demicheli V, Jefferson T, Ferroni E, Rivetti A, Di Pietrantonj C. Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2018;2:CD001269.
18. Flannery B, Chung JR, Belongia EA, et al. Interim estimates of 2017-18 seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness—United States, February 2018. MMWR 2018;67(6):180-185.
19. Skowronski DM, Chambers C, De Serres G et al. Early season co-circulation of influenza A(H3N2) and B(Yamagata): interim estimates of 2017/18 vaccine effectiveness, Canada, January 2018. Euro Surveill 2018;23(5):pii=18-00035.
20. Sullivan SG, Chilver MB, Carville KS, et al. Low interim influenza vaccine effectiveness, Australia, 1 May to 24 September 2017. Euro Surveill 2017;22(43):pii=17-00707.
21. ACIP votes down use of LAIV for 2016-2017 flu season. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0622-laiv-flu.html.
22. 2017-2018 influenza season week 19 ending May 12, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm.
23. Leading causes of death. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm.
24. Influenza. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/flu.htm.
25. Pneumonia. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/pneumonia.htm.
26. Murphy TV, Slade BA, Broder KR, et al. Prevention of pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria among pregnant and postpartum women and their infants. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 2008;57(4):1-47,51.
27. Protect infants against pertussis: cocooning through Tdap vaccination. https://www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/immunization_protect_infants_against_pertussis.pdf.
28. Seaman A. Cocooning: doctors divided on vaccine strategy to protect babies. The Atlantic, December 28, 2011.
29. Mogensen SW, Andersen A, Rodrigues A, Benn CS, Aaby P. The introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and oral polio vaccine among young infants in an urban African community: a natural experiment. EBioMedicine 2017;17:192-198.
30. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Toxicological Profile for Aluminum. Atlanta, GA.: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry;2008:108-109.
31. Nelson K. Aluminum in vaccines: what everyone needs to know. Weston A. Price Foundation, May 7, 2018. https://www.westonaprice.org/healthtopics/vaccinations/aluminum-in-vaccines-what-everyone-needs-to-know/.
32. Althouse BM, Scarpino SV. Asymptomatic transmission and the resurgence of Bordetella pertussis. BMC Med 2015;13:146.
33. Warfel JM, Zimmerman LI, Merkel TJ. Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2014;111(2):787-792.
34. FDA study helps provide an understanding of rising rates of whooping cough and response to vaccine. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=175505.
35. Pawloski LC, Queenan AM, Cassiday PK, et al. Prevalence and molecular characterization of pertactin-deficient Bordetella pertussis in the United States. Clin Vaccine Immunol 2014;21(2):119-125.
36. Hammond JR. The ugly untold truth about the pertussis vaccine. September 14, 2015. https://www.jeremyrhammond.com/2015/09/14/the-ugly-untold-truth-about-the-pertussis-vaccine/.
37. Comment posted by Laura Hayes, in response to “New paper challenges HHS on their vaccine aluminum dosing safety numbers” by Ginger Taylor.
38. Fisher BL. Vaccination during pregnancy: is it safe? National Vaccine Information Center, November 9, 2013. https://www.nvic.org/NVIC-Vaccine-News/November-2013/Vaccination-During-Pregnancy–Is-It-Safe-.aspx.
39. Thimerosal history: historical development of the mercury based preservative thimerosal. https://worldmercuryproject.org/thimerosal-history/.
40. England C. Aluminium adjuvants have never been approved for use in vaccination. VacTruth, November 27, 2016. https://vactruth.com/2016/11/17/aluminium-adjuvants-not-approved/.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2018.