With a powerful film title, the documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe might deter proponents of vaccines and conventional medicine from seeing it, assuming this is an anti-vaccination tirade. In fact, the documentary was “deselected” from the Tribeca Film Festival at the end of March 2016 after being considered “anti-vaccine” by some filmmakers and journalists who had not seen the film. And, of course, there are those who wish to dismiss it as another conspiracy theory.
Yet, this compelling and well-researched film clearly reveals an alarming story from a whistleblower, a Senior Scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – a story every citizen should know, especially parents, parents-to-be, doctors and those in the health care industry (whom we all expect to be well-informed). After viewing Vaxxed, actor Robert DeNiro, a Tribeca Film Festival co-founder, renounced the de-selection of the film saying, “I think the movie is something that people should see.” I do, too.
Throughout the film, recorded phone conversations between the whistleblowing scientist Dr. William Thompson and biologist Dr. Brian Hooker are woven around disturbing family accounts of notable onsets of autism after receiving the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR), instances of fraudulent activities within the CDC, and informative insights from well-respected doctors and scientists, including pediatrician Dr. James M. Sears and a recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, virologist Dr. Luc Montagnier.
Vaxxed is clearly not an anti-vaccination film. The documentary doesn’t even question the efficacy of vaccines, but rather poignantly asks some deeper questions regarding the significant rise of autism cases over the past two decades, the transparency of the CDC, the monetary motivations within the industry, the practices surrounding vaccine testing, and the distribution – or perhaps omission – of critical data related to the MMR vaccine. Director Dr. Andrew Wakefield became a controversial figure in the medical industry after getting “discredited” for a study he submitted to a medical journal, The Lancet. Yet he has never stated that parents should stop vaccinating. In Vaxxed, Dr. Wakefield openly shares his deep concerns with the MMR combination vaccine, advocating for a single dose vaccine as a safer alternative – which, interestingly, is no longer available.
In 1993, while pregnant with my first child, I had no idea vaccines were optional in my state; I hadn’t even questioned them. Once their potential dangers and questions of efficacy came to my attention, I dove deep into research wanting to make the best choice for my baby before giving birth. A critical component I learned was that my decision didn’t have to be an all-or-nothing resolution, but rather – if I opted to vaccinate – could be thoughtful assessments of which and when. In addition to concerns over combination vaccines, Vaxxed reveals the potentially hazardous consequences of inoculating children between 12 and 15 months of age with MMR, especially for African-American males. Even though I had kept somewhat abreast on the vaccination topic over the past 23 years, Vaxxed took me “behind the scenes” of the autism-vaccine controversy and illuminated some bigger concerns.
Aside from parental observations, I have never been able to do research on the health of vaccinated versus non-vaccinated children because they do no exist. In 2002, I was able to order a tetanus-only vaccine for my two older children, but didn’t realize that other single dose vaccines have since become unavailable in the United States. As well, I did not realize that vaccines are not tested under the same provisions as pharmaceutical drugs. The lack of CDC transparency and government action exposed in this film, unfortunately, did not surprise me.
At the end of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, the documentary lists four demands to help ensure safer vaccines, summarizing the goals of the film. Vaxxed is more than a documentary, it is a call to action, requesting:
As a California mother of four, my medical-choice rights have been stripped in the area of childhood vaccinations. Thus, I found myself irritated at the footage of Dr. Richard Pan pushing Senate Bill 277 – a bill he authored to mandate vaccines for all children in public and private California schools – which has now become law. And, whether it was one of the several pro-vaccine commercials or the snippets of Vaxxed-casted children offering an alternative view, I find the use of child actors unnecessarily manipulative, as I’m not convinced these youth have developed their own informed viewpoints. Aside from these personal responses in watching the film, the only other drawback I found was there seemed to be a negative portrayal of autism. Most of us understand that not all vaccines cause autism, not all cases of autism are the result of vaccinations, and autism spans a wide spectrum of conditions. There are many people on the autism spectrum living productive, happy lives.
In 90 minutes, Vaxxed focuses on the sound concerns of the whistleblower and other experts, highlights heart-wrenching stories of families with vaccine-injured children, offers disconcerting facts about vaccine testing, and reveals disturbing weak links in regard to public information and child safety. Educational, concise and in some cases passionately raw, the interviews are certainly persuasive. Assumedly for his protection, Dr. William Thompson is never filmed in the documentary, nor are his images revealed, which could lead some critics to question his existence and/or the validity of his claims. The sooner Congress subpoenas Dr. Thompson, the better – for a multitude of reasons.
Whichever side of the vaccine aisle one stands on, fear seems to be the greatest weapon of choice to influence the opposition. While some might consider Vaxxed nothing more than an anti-vaccine fear tactic, I highly recommend any independent thinkers to give it an open-minded watch and decide for themselves. And, if inspired, follow it up with mindful action.
To learn how to watch Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, keep informed on updates, or to get involved in the movement toward safer vaccines, visit www.VaxxedTheMovie.com