Vaccine Safety in 2023 - Where Have all the Critical Thinkers Gone?
…and stop calling me an “anti-vaxxer"
“So we’re going to add yet another ‘vaccine’ to an overloaded schedule – an experimental modality that introduces synthetically produced mRNA into cells that ‘teach’ the cells to generate a protein-based antigen (aka the ‘spike protein’), whose long term safety is unknown. This ‘spike protein’ causes the immune system to produce antibodies against an ancestral viral strain that is no longer in circulation for which the IFR (Infection Fatality Rate) for children under 18 (when it was in circulation) was .0003%. This defies all logic.”
Critical Thinking: The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment. Oxford Languages
How it started: My Dad - Dr. Sweeney - Bringing vaccines to the masses
My father, Francis J. Sweeney, obtained his MD from Jefferson Medical College in 1951 and spent over 20 years at Jefferson University Hospital specializing in Infectious Diseases before moving into hospital administration as the Jefferson Medical Director in 1967. My father also served as a Medical Doctor in the U.S. Navy, both Active Duty overseas and in the Reserves at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. As an Infectious Disease specialist, he was prominent in the field of public health and, most relevant to this article, instrumental in the distribution of the polio vaccine, serving as Co-Director of the Victory over Polio Campaign for Philadelphia in the early 1960s. This is all to say that I grew up in a household where there was no reason to question neither vaccines nor the medical community that brought us these “modern miracles of science”. “Vaccine Safety” was not even a phrase let alone a concern when I grew up in Philadelphia. (Dr. Sweeney bio at Jefferson Archives, page 341.)
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From Philly to NYC
After high school in Philadelphia, I went to Boston College, returned to Philadelphia for two years, and then headed to Cornell University for graduate school. Upon receiving my M.B.A. from Cornell in 1989, I moved to New York City, got married to a Cornell classmate, and we had two sons.
Our younger son, Dustin, 25, is severely autistic and non-verbal. Our oldest son graduated from the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD) in 2019, and he is now a Naval Aviator serving our beautiful country. Needless to say, our two sons are on two very different journeys.
As my wife often says, while Son #1 made us happier; Dusty made us better. The challenges he – and us in turn – faces are profound, unpredictable, and quite often overwhelming. The people he has brought into our lives – autism parents, teachers, therapists, support workers, and the myriad of employees and volunteers at the various non-profits we are involved with that support the special needs population (CO/LAB Theater Group, Theater Development Fund, Achilles International, Surfers Healing, Invictus Bakery, SNACK, Endeavor21+ Foundation to name a few) humble us and are a reminder on a daily basis that there truly is good in this world and that the human spirit can be kind, giving, nurturing, selfless, and loving.
It is easy to lose sight of this, especially these days when it seems the world – or at least this country – has become so dug in. The polarization that exists today is pervasive and startling. In this 140-character (okay, now 280) sound bite, headline grabbing world we live in it seems people have lost not only the ability and desire to listen patiently, but also, and perhaps more importantly, their critical thinking skills: the ability to seek out and take in information from different viewpoints, to question and evolve their own perspectives and formulate their own conclusions and opinions while respecting others that may be different. Instead it seems people all too often shortcut this journey of discovery and thought by coming to an opinion with lightning speed and then seeking out only confirming evidence that supports their position. Disconfirming evidence is not to be considered but rather deemed ‘misinformation’.
“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.” -- Confucius
The list is seemingly endless today on topics where this is happening. I am picking one that is not only topical but also personal: the vaccine debate. I know upon hearing this some will immediately put me in the ‘anti-vaxxer’ bucket and stop reading because it doesn’t support their narrative. But maybe, just maybe, some will be willing to resurrect the listening and critical thinking skills that are in all of us, read on, and pivot from digging in to taking in on the chance that it might enhance or inform their perspective. I want to offer my viewpoint as a ‘Citizen Journalist’ in this one and done opinion piece on the chance that it might inform others. I believe my personal set of circumstances gives me a unique or at the very least interesting perspective on the topic.
I am not an anti-vaxxer…what I am is ‘Pro-Vaccine Safety’. Really, who can argue against wanting safe vaccines?
1979 - My First Medical Awakening
In 1979, my mother, Helen Sweeney, suffered a post-operative complication from a hysterectomy. I was a senior in High School, on my way to visit Boston College with my sister for the weekend when my mom went back into the hospital. Why would I worry? At the time, my Dad was one of the last of the true medical doctors who actually ran hospitals, and we grew up with the best doctors at Jefferson Hospital to take care of us.
Up in Boston that Saturday, I got a phone call to return home immediately as Mom was in the Intensive Care Unit. Upon our return, I walked into the ICU at Jefferson and I knew something was wrong, not only with my mom, but the curious scene I was witnessing. I was 16-years old, basically never had a worry in the world and suddenly every doctor that we knew growing up was in that room. And they were ALL smoking – except for my Dad. He had credited me for asking him the question years earlier, "Why do you smoke Dad?" I was too young to have any idea what it meant when I asked, but it registered with my Dad, and he had quit smoking long before this scene.
This was 1979, and we were long past the era of doctors not knowing about cigarettes and the harm nicotine could do to your body. Yet all those doctors were smoking in the conference room where we gathered as a family. Thus, in this ‘light bulb’ moment, I realized that people -- even doctors who I grew up trusting -- can and will deny and/or suppress information –- disconfirming evidence -- even when it is harmful to themselves or others to do so.
My Mom passed away that week. Did she need the surgery in the first place? What happened during surgery to lead to those complications? I really have no idea, but it was a medical awakening for me. The heretofore blind faith that I had in the medical leadership community was shaken, establishing the foundation for critical thinking that I would apply decades later to the vaccine debate.
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." Albert Einstein
The backstory I share is important context. There is absolutely no “anti-vax” or even anti-medical establishment in either my wife’s or my DNA. We were born into and received every privilege that “The Greatest Generation” provided us, especially in medicine. I was the son of an Infectious Disease doctor that delivered the polio vaccine to Philadelphia. My wife is the granddaughter of Dr. S.E. Bilik, considered the ‘father of Sports Medicine’, author of The Trainers Bible (1917) the first published book on athletic training. She was born with two serious congenital heart defects that were operated on in the early 1960s out at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN by one of the pioneers in pediatric open-heart surgery, Dr. John Kirklin. Her cardiologist, Dr. Julian Friedan, was the father of Dr. Tom Friedan, who was the Director of the CDC from 2009-2017. Her pediatrician was Dr. Norman Jarvik, whose son, Dr. Robert Jarvik, was the inventor of the first artificial heart. Point is, we both grew up surrounded by, firmly believed in, and had no reason not to trust the “medical establishment” and their Hippocratic oath of ‘Do no harm’.
Fast Forward: Dustin Sweeney is born and we begin our Autism journey
Our lives took a turn when Dustin was born. We embarked on an autism journey that will never end, perpetually seeking answers and solutions by reading and researching everything we can. In general, I have defaulted to my wife to take on the role of ‘Family Doctor’, spearheading Dustin’s Autism therapies and biomedical interventions. Katie is the perfect parent partner for this role. She has an undergraduate degree in Biology so she can come up to speed quickly on the ‘science’, and she has a love for getting into the weeds and details that I find challenging! I am more intuitive in nature, long ago tested as a ‘Myers-Briggs INTJ-Architect’. INTJs “live in the world of ideas and strategic planning…they focus their energy on observing the world and generating ideas and possibilities.” Katie, a ‘Myers-Briggs ESFJ-Consul’ “uses [her] Sensing and Judging characteristics to gather specific, detailed information…and turn this information into supportive judgments.”
Dustin was born in 1997 and was developing normally during his first year hitting his physical milestones (rolling over, crawling, walking) on time or even early. He babbled and cooed on schedule and was generally a happy baby. At some point in that first year, he had his third DPT vaccine dose. That was the shot that put him over the edge. He screamed for 24 hours, and the babbling stopped. The language that typically follows never came. Around age 15 months, my wife remembers typing in ‘late-talking children’ into the Altavista search engine (Google had not become dominant yet) and an Autism website came up. Her first thought: “Who is going to take care of Dusty when we’re gone?”
It took another year or two to get the official diagnosis of Autism. We think that an interim diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Delay Not Other Specified) was just a way of doctors easing parents into the realization that their child was facing a lifelong disorder for which there is no cure that will affect every aspect of their lives. And I get that. If we had known then the challenges we were to face on this journey, the emotional, physical, spiritual, and not to mention financial toll it has taken and continues to take, it would have been pretty devastating to say the least. In no uncertain terms, Autism has defined our lives. Every aspect.
2007-ish: Mike’s Realization - The Vaccine Injury of Dustin Sweeney
For the first 10 years of Dusty’s life, my wife carried the medical torch of his care, doing the reading and research, finding the doctors, evaluating therapists, meeting with teachers and specialists, driving the trials of various biomedical interventions. And we tried a lot: heavy metal chelation, Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment, gluten free diet, and yes many, many medications and supplements. My focus was more on the ‘normalization of Dustin’. I naively thought this would pass and through school, sports, and physical activity he would eventually break out or grow out of Autism and have a ‘normal’ life. Whatever that means.
Meanwhile, my wife was learning more and more about the biology of Autism and the chronic and systemic inflammation that characterizes it. After years of research, reading, and really deep and complicated scientific discussions with Autism doctors and parents, she came to the conclusion that the root of Dusty’s autism was a combination of a genetic pre-disposition plus egregious environmental assaults. I will not get into the science behind this here as while she understands it on a surface level, I grasp probably half of what she comprehends. The biochemistry behind all of this is extremely complicated. But as this learning progressed, she became convinced that the ‘culprit’ – those environmental assaults -- in Dusty’s case was the heavily overloaded childhood vaccine schedule. Not any one vaccine, but the cumulative effect of the series of vaccines he had as an infant and toddler.
If you think about it, would you want to get Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chicken Pox, Polio, influenza, Hepatitis A, and pneumococcal pneumonia all at once? Of course not. But this can happen at a child’s 12th or 15th month checkup, as these are all recommended on the CDC schedule and these are snippets of live or dead viruses that illicit an immune response. Over time, in some genetically pre-disposed individuals, the body can go into an immune response gerbil wheel and can’t get off. And that’s not to mention all the toxic ingredients and/or potential allergens that are present in childhood vaccines – aluminum, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and, in the mid-90s, thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative– which has since been removed from all vaccines except the flu shot. Mercury is one of the most toxic elements on the periodic table.
“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” Dr. Carl Sagan, Cornell University
During those early years, my wife would drop a hint here or there about her concerns about the vaccine schedule, but she knew this was a huge wall for me to climb because of my Dad. Over time though I started to not only listen but really hear what she was saying. However by the time this happened the damage had been done, and childhood vaccines were in the rear-view mirror for us. Our focus was and continues to be managing Dusty’s behaviors which can be unpredictable and volatile at times. We have been hit. We have been bitten. Sometimes his behavior is self-injurious, and that is the most difficult of all. We do everything we can through diet, fitness, supplements, and medication to calm his inflamed body and brain, which we believe is ‘on fire’, and reduce systemic inflammation, heal his gut (a huge co-morbidity with Autistic individuals), and provide the happiest, safest, and most productive life we can for him.
Fast Forward to Covid
When the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020, we were right in the epicenter, New York City. It was apocalyptic and scary. Dustin’s caregiver was out for 5 weeks. 16 members of her family got Covid. Some were hospitalized, some were intubated. Luckily, all survived. We knew others that did not. I do not in any way mean to downplay the severity of Covid for a significant subset of the population, particularly in those early months and some of the surges that followed.
As soon as Covid hit, the subject of vaccines came up resurrecting our concerns, particularly when it came to Dustin. There was no way we were going to introduce anything into Dusty’s body that would illicit an immune response when his body is perpetually in a hyper state of inflammation. And we were wary at the ‘warp speed’ that this new vaccine modality to combat SARS-CoV-2 was developed and introduced. I remember my wife commenting in early March 2020 that the pharmaceutical companies must be salivating like hungry wolves ready to pounce.
Yes, mRNA vaccines were in development for decades; the first human clinical trials for an mRNA vaccine against rabies were conducted way back in 2013. But not for the ‘novel’ SARS-CoV-2. New York City shut down basically on March 12, 2020. On March 16 – four days later -- the first mRNA vaccine to fend off SARS-CoV-2 was injected into a human being. The virus had been isolated and sequenced in January 2020. Eleven months later, December 11, 2020, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for EUA. Marketed as ‘safe and effective’ after only 9 months of trials. How could the long-term safety of this new vaccine developed to fight this novel virus possibly be evaluated? How could the efficacy of a lasting immune response be assessed that abbreviated time frame?
While the urgency was understandable, the rush to market was shocking…but not surprising. The table had been set for this already in the early months of 2020 when HHS Secretary Alex Azar invoked PREP - the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, a 2005 law that provides pharmaceutical manufacturers protection from being sued for money damages in court over injuries related to Covid vaccines or treatment. In other words, PREP absolved pharmaceutical companies of any responsibility or accountability for adverse effects.
I won’t go into details about how this has all played out. It’s well documented, though I personally have lost count at this point the number of boosters that this country is on. I follow the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System) data, I dive into the studies on excess deaths, I lost a close friend two weeks after he received his first booster, and I have another friend that came out of remission from Lymphoma after his second shot. The stories of myocarditis and unexpected deaths of otherwise healthy individuals are proliferating. My point here is not to make a case against these vaccines. Twitter is filled with tweets and links to articles for and (thanks to Elon Musk, now) against. Rather I suggest that for every individual the decision to vaccinate must be based on a personal medical calculus undertaken with critical thinking applied. And not to blindly think that just because the public health and medical establishment and the CDC and NIH say these are ‘safe and effective’ doesn’t mean they are ‘safe and effective’ for everyone.
How did we get here?
For years, many Autism parents, myself included, were labeled as ‘anti-vaxxers’ as we became aware of the potential of childhood vaccines – or the vaccine schedule – being one of the environmental assaults triggering Autism. From reading and doing the research (and my wife has done much more than I), my assessment is the smallpox vaccine was one of the great success stories of modern medicine. And perhaps the polio vaccine, which my father was instrumental in the widespread distribution of, though that itself has been modified many times in the 90 years of development. As I said earlier, it’s not any one vaccine but rather the over-loaded vaccine schedule that I believe Dustin was victimized by.
And how did this vaccine schedule get so over-loaded? The ‘Big Pharma’ machine is truly unchecked when it comes to not only childhood vaccines, but vaccines in general in large part due to the combination of two things:
1. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 which indemnified vaccine manufacturers by eliminating the potential liability for vaccine injury claims. In other words, you cannot sue a vaccine manufacturer for an injury or adverse effect from a childhood vaccine. The Act established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program – “Vaccine Court” – as an alternative, which has paid $4.8 billion for vaccine injury since its inception. I believe ‘The Act’ served as the precedent for the 2005 PREP act which, as stated earlier, is currently invoked to shield manufacturers from liability for vaccine injury from Covid vaccines and treatments.
2. The relaxation in the mid-1980s of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. This truly changed the media – pharma relationship as pharmaceutical companies became broadcast and print media’s biggest advertisers. The systemic lack of objectivity among mainstream broadcast media when it comes to pharmaceuticals -- especially vaccines -- and the censorship now being exposed across the social media platforms I believe in part has its root in this shift to DTC advertising. Kind of the fox guarding the hen house dynamic, if you ask me.
Every action has a reaction
In the early 1980s, the CDC Child and Adolescent Vaccine Schedule (Birth to age 18) consisted of 12 shots for 8 diseases. The highest number of shots recommended at any one checkup was two (total of 4 diseases). As of this writing, January 2023, the CDC schedule recommends 54 shots for 16 diseases. According to the schedule, the number of shots recommended at either the 15th or 18th month visit can be as high as 9 at one time, covering 13 diseases. Yikes!
And while I am well aware that correlation does not mean causation, it’s hard to ignore the concomitant rise in Autism, developmental disabilities, and childhood diseases over that same period. In 2000, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network estimated the incidence of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) among 8 year olds (birth year 1992) at 1 in 150. As of 2018 (most recent data reported) that incidence has risen to 1 in 44.
Economic incentives to Big Pharma…
Thanks to the 1986 Act, Direct to Consumer Pharma advertising, and the PREP Act, the pharmaceutical industry has no incentive to give us the real information and data. If anything, it can only hurt them. So we have to rely on emerging antidotal data, dubbed ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’ by media or the government — information that doesn’t conform to their narrative — about the short-lived efficacy (immunity of weeks, not months or years) and questionable safety of Covid vaccines. As a reminder, the mRNA jabs are not vaccines in the traditional sense but a synthetic gene therapy that tricks your body to make the ‘spike’ protein antigen that in turn causes the immune system into producing antibodies against it. And what is so paradoxical to me is that for all the attention in the past decade that eating organic and non-GMO foods has received, where is that attention when it comes to these vaccines? Okay so let me just get this straight: someone will seek out organic and non-GMO foods to eat ‘clean’ but at the same time won’t think twice about injecting synthetically produced genetic code into their body that is going to genetically modify their cells and trick their body into producing a spike protein whose long term effects are unknown?
All we have been hearing since the Covid mRNA vaccines were first introduced was that they are ‘safe and effective’. ‘Safe and effective’. ‘Safe and effective’. Oh really? But how do they know that? And safe for who? Effective for who? One thing Covid has taught us is this not a one size fits all disease. It presents very differently in different people. Listen to 5 peoples’ Covid stories and you’ll likely get 5 different stories. (Kind of like Autism). So why would anybody be so presumptuous as to think that a one size fits all vaccine that was tested on humans for 9 months will be safe and effective for everyone. And should be given – okay mandated for many – to everyone with no exemptions when the IFR (Infection Fatality Rate) for healthy individuals under 65 with no co-morbidities or underlying conditions was less than 1%.
The there there: Connecting the Childhood Vaccine Schedule and Covid 19
The BIG question that has never been asked of nor answered by Big Pharma: Why has there been no research on the cumulative effect of all the childhood vaccines introduced since the 1986 Vaccine Act? None. Not only that, there have been no studies conducted on the combination of vaccines given at the same time in the same ‘well child’ visit. As mentioned, up to 9 different antigens can be introduced into a developing child’s immune system in one visit (and more now, see footnote ‘1’ below). No studies. Nada. None. Except the uncontrolled one that has been going on real-time in our children for going on 3 decades now.
Historically (at least up until Covid), there has been research and long-term clinical trials conducted on individual vaccines in controlled studies though some of those have been questionable (HPV Vaccine to name one, but that’s a subject for another day). If nothing else, Covid has shown the world how ‘BigPharma’ can manipulate or withhold data. As a reminder, Pfizer wanted and initially got the FDA to agree to not release vaccine safety data on its Covid-19 vaccine for 75 years. This was subsequently thrown out by a federal judge.
What this debacle is hopefully beginning to expose is a pattern of questionable practices by unfettered Big Pharma enabled by our government, the CDC, and the FDA. This is why critical thinking is more important than ever and why everyone has to conduct their own personal medical calculus when it comes to health decisions, and, yes that includes vaccines. And why the Covid 19 vaccine mandates still in place in so many sectors do not make any medical or ethical sense, especially now when there is clearly no public health benefit (notice you don’t hear the term ‘breakthrough cases’ anymore!)
Getting back to the childhood vaccine schedule, the addition of the Covid 19 vaccine is imminent.The CDC Advisory Committee recommended its inclusion in October 2022. So we’re going to add yet another ‘vaccine’ to an overloaded schedule – an experimental modality that introduces synthetically produced mRNA into cells that ‘teach’ the cells to generate a protein-based antigen (aka the ‘spike protein’), whose long term safety is unknown. This ‘spike protein’ causes the immune system to produce antibodies against an ancestral viral strain that is no longer in circulation for which the IFR (Infection Fatality Rate) for children under 18 (when it was in circulation) was .0003%. This defies all logic.
A crack appears - back in Philly - Paul Offit, M.D.
A most encouraging sign that we have begun to turn the corner and open the aperture on the hold that Big Pharma has on the government – and in turn us – has occurred in the unlikely form of Paul Offit, M.D. Offit is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center and professor of pediatrics in the Infectious Disease division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (If he had lived a generation earlier, he would have been a colleague of my father’s!) He is also co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, one of the many vaccines that was added (in 2006) to the childhood vaccine schedule following the 1986 Act. Rotavirus infections are the leading cause of severe diarrhea among young children. I am not going to debate the merits of the rotavirus vaccine, particularly in a first-world country such as the U.S. Parents can do the research and decide for themselves. Suffice to say that Offit has been a very vocal vaccine advocate and was one of the first to use the label ‘anti-vaxxer’ in the face of growing parental hesitation over vaccines and the vaccine schedule (long before Covid). To Autism parents who believe there is a vaccine-Autism connection and to a broader audience concerned about vaccines in general, Dr. Offit is not a friend.
Not surprisingly throughout 2020 as the Covid vaccines were in ‘trial’ and then approved, Dr. Offit was all over the media as an outspoken vaccine advocate. After all, he sits on the FDA Vaccine and Related Biological Advisory Committee responsible for approving the Covid-19 vaccines and making recommendations to the CDC. However in late 2021 after the first Covid-19 boosters were approved, in an article in The Atlantic, Paul Offit told the author “getting boosted would not be worth the risk for the average healthy 17-year-old boy. Offit advised his own son, who is in his 20s, not to get a third dose.” For those that followed the vaccine debate whether before or since Covid regardless of what side adhered to, this was the equivalent of Judas betraying Jesus! And much more recently (January 11, 2023), Dr. Offit published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Bivalent Covid-19 Vaccines – A Cautionary Tale that specifically challenges the ‘shots for everyone’ mentality that has characterized this story from the beginning:
“Although boosting with a bivalent vaccine is likely to have a similar effect as boosting with a monovalent vaccine, booster dosing is probably best reserved for the people most likely to need protection against severe disease — specifically, older adults, people with multiple coexisting conditions that put them at high risk for serious illness, and those who are immunocompromised. In the meantime, I believe we should stop trying to prevent all symptomatic infections in healthy, young people by boosting them with vaccines containing mRNA from strains that might disappear a few months later.”
This chink in the armor is one vaccine safety advocates should leverage. If Paul Offit is saying this, maybe people will begin to start to apply critical thought to their own personal vaccine and boosting decisions and their health choices in general and not just blindly follow Fauci, the CDC, Big Pharma, or the medical establishment – of which my father and my wife’s grandfather were once members of – into the river like the children led by the Pied Piper in the legend from the Middle Ages.
“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.” Sir Francis Bacon
Never state a problem without offering a solution - My Suggestions for a Path Forward
In a perfect world, this is what I would like to see happen to begin to unravel this tangled web that vaccine safety advocates have been talking about for a long time and that Covid has brought to the mainstream discourse:
Repeal the 1986 Vaccine Act: Big Pharma needs to be held financially accountable for bad products and bad recommendations. If there is fraud, make the Big Pharma executives criminally accountable.
Abolish pharmaceutical Direct to Consumer media advertising. This will release the media from the chokehold that Big Pharma has as one of their top advertisers. The Media machine does not want to bite the hand of Big Pharma that feeds them.
Block the addition of the Covid-19 vaccine to the Childhood Vaccine schedule. There is absolutely no reason for it at this point for all the reasons stated earlier. And block any planned or future Covid-19 vaccine mandates for school-age children (California’s school Covid-19 vaccine requirement is on hold until at least July 2023).
Stop the censorship that has been prevalent in both mainstream and social media. Twitter is a start. Stop labeling anything that doesn’t fit the Big Pharma narrative ‘mis-information’. Allow free-flowing exchange of ideas. Allow people to really ‘follow the science’ – all the science, not just the version that is cherry-picked and spun that supports the vaccine narrative.
Repeal all remaining Covid 19 vaccine mandates. There are still hundreds of colleges that mandate the original vaccines as well as boosters. There are many cities and towns that mandate vaccines for municipal workers (NYC and LA County included – even visitors to NYC schools still have to be vaccinated - once again with the original series developed against an ancestral strain no longer in circulation!). We had a big win in New York State this past week when the healthcare worker mandate was struck down, thanks to our friend Mary Holland of Children’s Health Defense. They financed the lawsuit on behalf of Medical Professionals for Informed Consent. Promote informed consent, let individuals (and parents) do their own personal medical calculus (risk/benefit analysis) and decide for themselves.
The bigger picture: Support a fit and healthy lifestyle: Begin to address the underlying reasons why Covid-19 was so severe for so many people in this country. Start having the real conversations about health, diet, exercise, and fitness. Sure I had been an athlete all my life (walk-on Basketball player for Boston College, triathlete, runner), but Dustin Sweeney taught me the realities about ‘food is medicine’. We are an unhealthy, unfit country. From the CDC - 32% of adults over age 20 are overweight, 42% are obese; 10% have Diabetes, 13% smoke. Our answer to this during the Covid vaccine rollout was prioritizing shots for smokers and obese individuals. And Krispy Kreme rewarded the vaccinated with two free donuts every day for a week! We need as a society and a country to address these underlying co-morbidities that resulted in so many Covid deaths. We need to re-direct some of the money being poured into vaccine development and procurement to educating people on the importance of diet and exercise and providing them support to adopt and maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle that will in turn support a more robust immune system better suited to confront Covid or the next disease to come down the pike.
Fantasy, I know. But just raising awareness and having the dialogue (without fear of retribution) I think helps. A movement starts with a single step.
How it finishes
Now that I have gotten this off my chest, I go back to answering the BIG question for my wife and I, universal among parents with severely Autistic, non-verbal children: What happens when we die? To think of Dusty on this Earth without one of us to protect him, advocate for him, make decisions for him that are in his best interest (because he cannot), and love him like no one else will or should be expected to is gut-wrenching. My wife and I are striving to build a promising future for Dustin Sweeney and his friends, one filled with purpose, hope, and joy. We hope the integrated community we are helping to create at Endeavor21.org, becomes a model that will help other Autism families answer that big question.
I wrote this piece because I wanted and needed to share my position. I hope it helps some to reignite critical thinking skills and listen and discover and open their minds back up to considering alternate perspectives. But above everything else, I profoundly hope that respect and civility for viewpoints and positions that are different than ones’ own begins to creep back into the lexicon.
* * * * * *
Many thanks to my wife of 30 years. She was a HUGE editor of this “Citizen Journalist Position Paper”. And thanks to our friend Mary Holland, who is a Co-Founder of Endeavor 21+. Mary is a big reason for my evolving awareness of the issues outlined above.
Update March 2023:
The CDC has announced in March 2023, the following data as reported by our friends at Children’s Health Defense: One in 36 (2.8%) 8-year-old children — 4% of boys and 1% of girls — have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), based on an analysis of data from 2020, published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Against my #3 recommendation above, the CDC has added Covid-19 vaccinations to the immunization schedule for children. See Parents Magazine.
At this point, my personal faith is the medical community is destroyed.
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This article was written in January 2023. In early February 2023 added COVID-19 vaccinations for children, adolescents, and adults to its immunization schedule. For healthy children age 6 months - 11 years, this means the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna followed by the ‘updated’ bivalent booster. This increase the number of recommended injections from 54 to 72 over the course of a person’s childhood, between the ages of 6 months and 18 years
A couple of people sent me private notes, and I did miss (my own disinformation!!) in my Dad's bio at Jefferson University's archives page 343:
"In those early years there was some criticism of receiving funds from the pharmaceutical industry for fear of possible conflict of interest in the reporting of results."
Thank you seems to little, but I do want to thank you & your wife for your reasoned response & sharing of info & ♥️ in this amazing & almost overwhelming arena.