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The Changing Parameters of Vaccines: Navigating a Narrative that Protects Big Pharma

EDITOR’S SUMMARY: In August 2022, during the height of the COVID-19 scramble for freedom, A Voice for Choice Advocacy (AVFCA) published its first article—”The Societal Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Where Do We Go From Here?” From that point forward, using grounded research, a library of stories has emerged. The topics have centered on mental and physical health insights, holistic and preventative wellness options, and the alarming rise in toxics across industries. In all instances, AVFCA has shared a variety of creative ways you can speak up and get involved to generate meaningful impact. Today’s article marks AVFCA’s 100th published story—an introspective look at how the current definitions and types of vaccines have evolved.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the world witnessed the largest vaccination push in human history. While you might have had an idea, or thought you understood what a vaccine was long before the pandemic, the definition and purpose of vaccines have been slowly and subtly shifting. The basic concept of a vaccine is that it imitates a specific disease, activating your body’s immune system to produce antibodies to defeat the illness. Antibodies are the protective proteins generated in response to disease, attaching to viruses, bacteria, or other foreign invaders, and removing them from your body.

Various types of vaccines exist today. The key component of each is the antigen, which is the substance that creates the immune response in your body. There are inactivated vaccines, which use dead versions of the germs associated with the particular disease, while attenuated vaccines use weakened, live versions. Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines use specific pieces of the antigen, such as parts of a germ’s outer surface or genetic material. Toxoid vaccines use a weakened form of the toxin made by the germ as the antigen to produce immunity.

The COVID-19 vaccine’s fast delivery to market raised awareness of a new type of vaccine, which employed messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology. This vaccine is made up of mRNA molecules containing the genetic material that triggers an immune response. Other vaccine types require using a component of the actual disease-causing antigen to activate your body’s immune system. But that approach is time-consuming, costly, and cannot be applied to all diseases, for example, cancer. mRNA technology met these obstacles by allowing scientists to swap out the antigen’s genetic code in a vaccine, enabling a “plug-and-play” approach to vaccine development and implementation.

In addition to antigens, vaccines consist of a number of ingredients referred to as excipients, including preservatives and adjuvants. Excipients contain stabilizers, which protect vaccine integrity during manufacturing, shipping, and storage. For example, excipients in the vaccines using mRNA technology employ fats to assist the mRNA vaccine to enter your cells, and acid stabilizers and sugar to help the vaccine maintain stability during production. Preservatives are main excipients because they are used to prevent the growth of harmful microbes due to contamination. Prior to preservatives becoming required for vaccines in the 1930s, some vaccinated children developed severe infections, and died. Mercury was used as a preservative, but has since been discontinued, with the exception of influenza (flu), tetanus (lockjaw), and diphtheria (Td) vaccines.

Adjuvants are added to enhance a vaccine’s ability to produce an immune response in your body. The most commonly-used adjuvant is salt with aluminum, and aluminum is a known neurotoxin. Exposure to high levels can lead to brain, liver, and kidney damage. You are exposed to aluminum regularly through food and water, but only about 1% is absorbed into your bloodstream, as your intestinal tract removes the rest. However, when you’re injected with a vaccine containing an aluminum salt adjuvant, 100% goes into your bloodstream. While many in the medical community assert aluminum in vaccines is safe, science’s understanding of aluminum adjuvants is poor. Vaccines also contain byproducts from vaccine production, such as fetal tissue, antibiotics, and formaldehyde. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of these ingredients for many vaccines.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye … Did You Catch the News?

Today, the official definition of a vaccine, as defined by the CDC, is “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases.” Interestingly, this definition arose after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flashback to March 2020, and the CDC’s definition read “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease.” Note how the definition of a vaccine had suddenlybroadened. A vaccine is now a “preparation,” which is a vague term, and its effects have changed from producing immunity, and protecting from disease, to simply stimulating an immune response.

Contrast the CDC’s explanation to that of the World Health Organization (WHO), which defines vaccination as such: 

“… protecting you against harmful diseases, before you come into contact with them. It uses your body’s natural defenses to build resistance to specific infections and makes your immune system stronger. Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease.”

The WHO’s definition is precise in identifying the parameters of a vaccine—to include antibodies. The CDC’s definition makes no mention of antibodies, and opens up the application of vaccines for an array of uses, beyond the conventional approach of protection against infectious diseases. The official vaccine definition is important, because medical science is working to apply vaccines to a wide range of health conditions, previously outside the scope of vaccinations. These include, but are not limited to cancer, acne, and drug addiction

therapeutic vaccines safety

“Therapeutic” Vaccinations

These unorthodox pharmaceutical treatments, known as therapeutic vaccines, are made possible by advances in technology. One such new technique employs the mRNA innovation. This approach allows the creation of vaccines against non-communicable diseases, and conditions such as peanut allergies. Although therapeutic vaccines don’t contain the actual disease-causing germ, they’re able to stimulate your immune system to create antibodies. Therapeutic vaccines using mRNA technology work by mimicking a disease at the cellular level, and tricking your body’s antibody response.

For example, in the case of acne, bacteria can secrete a toxic protein that triggers inflammation, and infection on your skin, causing your immune system to produce antibodies. So a therapeutic vaccine can be tailored to target this toxic protein to block acne from occurring. With a peanut allergy, your immune system mistakenly identifies peanut proteins as harmful, attacking them with antibodies. A therapeutic vaccine using mRNA technology can be injected into you with just a fragment of the peanut protein. While leaving out the part that causes an allergic reaction, this trains your body to tolerate peanuts.

When it comes to drug addiction to opioids, the therapeutic vaccine directs your body to identify opioid molecules as invaders. Your immune system then creates antibodies that attach to the molecules, and flushes them out of your system. Although similarities exist between a vaccine designed to treat an infectious disease, called a prophylactic vaccine, and a therapeutic vaccine, one of the key differences is that the former is administered to you when you’re healthy, to prevent disease, while the latter is used to treat you when you are sick. This calls to attention what exactly the medical industry considers a disease. It turns out the definition of a disease is dependent on many factors, including the viewpoint of broader society and economic incentives.

For example, a person who identified as gay in the early 20th century was considered to be suffering from a disease requiring hormone treatments. Other examples include menopause, touted as a curable disease during the 1960s, and more recently, female sexual dysfunction, a condition pharmaceutical companies were accused of creating to sell a version of Viagra for women. Because the notion of disease changes over time, this opens the door for therapeutic vaccines to be used for a wide range of scenarios. On the surface, the idea of getting a therapeutic vaccine might sound alluring if you’re suffering, and have tried other protocols to no avail. In the hope that an injection could give you salvation against ill health, it may be tempting. But could this be the latest in a long line of medical treatments touted as “magic bullets?” While seemingly capable of treating ailments, these so-called quick fixes can lead to liver damage, and in some cases, death. In addition, vaccine effectiveness wanes over time. As a result, therapeutic vaccine boosters could be required at regular intervals. For some conditions, such as the peanut allergy, regular doses of a therapeutic vaccine could be required for years, or seemingly the rest of your life. 

Moreover, beyond their use in treatments, therapeutic vaccines have factors to consider. One obvious reality is the fact that both therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines are drugs, and these medications come with side effects. Research has shown nearly 70% of pharmaceutical drugs contain ten or more side effects, and some drugs can possess over 100. For example, a known “side effect” of the COVID-19 vaccine is a life-threatening inflammation of the heart called myocarditis. A study released in May 2023 showed that as COVID-19 vaccination rates increased, so did unexplained deaths, which autopsies confirmed as vaccination-induced myocarditis. Therefore, common sense suggests that by moving toward the use of therapeutic vaccinations, you will also be increasing your risk of injury from unwanted “side effects.”

Another implication is the possibility that some therapeutic vaccines could become mandatory, as is the case with prophylactic vaccines. Today, all states, including California, require children and teenagers (daycare to 12th grade) to be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases to attend school (public and private). This mandate has also expanded to particular jobs, such as healthcare facilities increasingly requiring workers to be vaccinated. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government went as far as attempting to coerce companies to require the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. It’s feasible that such requirements could extend to therapeutic vaccines, as medical protocols are being treated like vaccines. 

Take the drug nirsevimab, also referred to by the brand name Beyfortus, as an example. In July 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nirsevimab to treat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants and toddlers. But unlike a typical prophylactic vaccine that stimulates your immune system to create antibodies, nirsevimab contains synthetic antibodyversions produced in a laboratory called monoclonal antibodies. These antibodies do not activate your immune system, but “a nirsevimab shot provides protection similar to that of a vaccine.” However, protection declines quickly, lasting five months, about the length of the RSV season. This approach is called passive immunity since the antibodies are not created by your body. In addition, the impact of a therapeutic vaccine during pregnancy could be substantial, since maternal antibodies are transferred to the unborn child. One study looking at monoclonal antibodies administered to pregnant women against COVID-19, found nearly a quarter had preterm births; more than double the normal U.S. rate

A month after FDA approval, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended nirsevimab be added to the federally-funded Vaccines For Children program, which provides no-cost vaccines for families who can’t afford them. In fact, nirsevimab is now officially part of the vaccine schedule for children, even though it’s not a vaccine in the traditional sense. This illustrates how quickly a medical treatment that falls under the nonconventional definition of a vaccine can slip into use as though it were a typical vaccine. And unfortunately, you wouldn’t know it was there unless you performed research on nirsevimab. 

Protection and Compensation When You’ve Been Injured From a Vaccine

Pharmaceutical companies are incentivized to classify more drugs as vaccines thanks to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), established in 1988, amended from the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA). While this system was put into place to compensate victims of vaccine-injury from routinely-administered vaccinations (ex: flu and tetanus), it was also established to protect drugmakers, as itprevents you from directly bringing a lawsuit against the manufacturer when a vaccine injury occurs. 

VICP does not cover vaccines authorized as emergency countermeasures, as in the case of COVID-19 vaccinations. Rather, during a declared “public health emergency,” the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) which arose in 2010, born out of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (Prep) Act of 2005, was put into place to cover EUA—Emergency Use Authorization—vaccines. Each program differs in their filing protocols, and are funded from different sources. And while the VICP runs via a legal process, the CICP does not. From “CICP vs. VICP: What Is the CICP Program? And How Does It Differ From the VICP?”

“To be compensated by the VICP, you or a lawyer must prepare and file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and send a copy to the Department of Health and Human Services.”

“Filing a claim in the CICP, on the other hand, is not a legal process. In order to file a claim in the CICP, one must complete a Request for Benefits package and submit that package to the CICP within the HHS [United States Department of Health and Human Services]. Submitted packages are individually reviewed by medical staff to determine the claimant’s eligibility for benefits. The CICP itself will then make a determination about compensation, bypassing court hearings entirely.”

“The CICP is set apart from the VICP in a number of ways. Firstly, funding: the VICP is funded by a tax of 75 cents taken out of the purchase of every vaccine included on the vaccine injury table. Conversely, the CICP is funded through congressional appropriations: laws of Congress which allow an agency to make payments from the U.S. Treasury. In other words, vaccine purchases pay for the VICP, while the U.S. Government bankrolls the CICP.”

Regarding filing deadlines, under the VICP, you have up to three years to file a petition from the first onset of symptoms. In the CICP, you have only one year to file your “Requests for Benefits” package, from the date you received the vaccination. You may request full compensation under the VICP for medical expenses and lost earnings, as well as an additional $250,000 for pain and suffering. Under the CICP, compensation is limited to medical expenses, and lost wages up to $50,000 per year until age 65. For pain and suffering—zero—there is no compensation.

Unfortunately, CICP claims are repeatedly denied, lost, ignored, or caught up in government bureaucracy. In a system that is “grossly unfair,” and “ignores recognized standards of law and justice,” leading to a “predetermined conclusion,” its efficacy is questionable. From MedPage Today, Special Reports “Lawsuit Challenges Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program”:

“As of October 1 [2023], there have been 12,233 CICP claims related to COVID countermeasures. The CICP has compensated six of those claims — five for myocarditis and one for anaphylaxis.

Though the average payout related to COVID countermeasures has been less than $3,000, the CICP’s average payout on injuries tied to the H1N1 flu vaccine was more than $198,000, according to the complaint.”

As for payouts from the VICP program, “Data & Statistics” from Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) state the following:

“According to the CDC, from 2006 to 2022 over 5 billion doses of covered vaccines were distributed in the U.S. For petitions filed in this time period, 12,505 petitions were adjudicated by the Court, and of those 8,722 were compensated. This means for every 1 million doses of vaccine that were distributed, approximately 1 individual was compensated. 

Since 1988, over 27,512 petitions have been filed with the VICP. Over that 30-year time period, 23,788 petitions have been adjudicated, with 11,022 of those determined to be compensable, while 12,766 were dismissed. Total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $5 billion.”

are covid vaccinations safe?

Final Thoughts on the Exploration of Vaccines and Other Treatments in Healthcare

One of the challenges society faces today, in an era of rampant use of pharmaceuticals, with the evolving nature of newly-defined vaccines, including “therapeutic” vaccines, is the propensity to address disease after it’s manifested. Continuing to move healthcare in this direction perpetuates an opposite mentality to identifying the root cause of illness [as in functional medicine], and treating the problem at its source. This raises a concern that to repeatedly grasp for a “super-pill/shot/cure” derived externally—in this case, a lab-made chemical formula—could be detrimental to the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health of human beings.  

The thing is … Chronic conditions that are not transmissible directly from one person to another, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, represent 71% of deaths worldwide. Cardiovascular disease and cancer top the list in the U.S., yet heart disease and lifestyle-related imbalances, such as metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, are fueled by the widespread consumption of highly-refined sugars/carbohydrates, rancid seed oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), inflammatory, ultra-processed “food,” chronic stress, lack of sleep, and inactivity. In addition, you’re exposed to numerous toxins created by human industrialization, from pesticides to microplastic pollution. The result is rising cancer rates among those under 50 years of age, including childhood cancers increasing 40% since 1975. Addressing some of these issues could stem the level of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 

Even the case for prophylactic vaccines may be overblown. Clean water, improved sanitation, and better nutrition have been shown to prevent illness. In fact, approximately 80% of communicable diseases in developing countries are linked to poor water and unfit sanitation conditions, which are not solved through vaccinations. Meanwhile, a handful of therapeutic vaccines have already garnered FDA approval, and can be used for treatments, including bladder cancer and prostate cancer. By the way, vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) used as prevention has been shown to “substantially lower incidence rates” of aggressive prostate cancer. And on that note, taking sunlight on your body is such a powerful source of “nature’s medicine,” it can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. From The Forgotten Side of Medicine, “Natural Light is An Essential Nutrient”:

“An excellent 20-year study of 29,518 women found that avoiding the sun made one 60% more likely to die (a 130% difference compared to those who had the most significant amount of sun exposure), and the most considerable benefit from regular sunlight exposure was reducing one’s risk of dying from heart disease. Note: that study also found a variety of other common diseases were much less likely to affect those with adequate sun exposure.”

In order to get a well-rounded picture of possibilities when making a decision about vaccination, the key is to weigh the stated benefits of the vaccine with the health risks—immediate and long-term. And while doing so, it would be smart to investigate additional treatments, including holistic and integrative modalities. One means to understand a pharmaceutical drug’s pros and cons is to read the package insert that comes with the medication/vaccine. These documents contain a wealth of information, including ingredients, adverse reactions, warnings and precautions, contraindications, and what the vaccine has not been tested for. Take for example, “COVID-19: Comirnaty Package Insert: Pfizer-BioNTech: 5.2 Myocarditis and Pericarditis”:

“Postmarketing data demonstrate increased risks of myocarditis and pericarditis, particularly within 7 days following the second dose. The observed risk is higher among males under 40 years of age than among females and older males.”

Digging into the research can help you make an informed decision in relation to your particular health circumstances, and personal set of values. You can find studies that analyze a particular vaccine through the National Library of Medicine. However, “research” is not limited to scientific data alone. Your investigation may include talking to people who have had experiences with specific vaccinations—prophylactic or therapeutic. It may (and likely should) include hearing testimonies from those who have successfully used integrative and holistic therapies as well.


Published on July 04, 2024.

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