The Lies You Will Be Told
Covid Vaccine and Kids
This week, pediatricians everywhere will be glued to their screens as champions of public health take virtual center stage.
On Tuesday, October 26th, Pfizer scientists will present their work supporting the use of the Covid-19 vaccine in 5-11 year old kids to experts at the FDA. In turn, the FDA subcommittee will review the data with line-by-line precision and determine if Pfizer’s conclusions are valid. If Pfizer is able to provide the FDA sufficient evidence of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in children, an EUA may be granted.
Shortly following, pediatric infectious disease experts, epidemiologists, vaccinologists and public health advocates will get their turn. The CDC/ACIP meeting on November 2/3 will extend the discussion to include risk/benefit of the vaccine for our children and how vaccinating our kids may play a role in stopping the Pandemic.
The work of these highly-qualified experts in pediatric and public health will undoubtedly include professional debate and respected disagreement. I’ll be watching along, eagerly waiting to hear the opinions of clinicians I personally know and trust. In the end, a vote by these leaders will determine if vaccinating kids against Covid-19 may begin.
But before we grab snacks and head to our virtual seats, take a quick glance behind the auditorium. Next to the dumpsters filled with greasy boxes of stale popcorn and souvenir cups of skunky beer, you’ll see another team reviewing their dusty playbook: The Anti-Vaccine Industry.
The Anti-Vaccine Industry does not care about you, your children or your community. These individuals make millions of dollars while gaining cult-like status, securing generational wealth for their own families, no matter the cost to yours.
As we hear from the FDA and CDC in the coming weeks, I want every parent to expect the Anti-Vaccine Industry is sitting in the cheap seats. These individuals are sadly predictable [read: lazy], defiantly calculating and always anti-vaccine. They have no interest in the data or the scientific process. They would never consider the opinions of internationally-recognized scientists.
The AVI show up to fill in the blanks of their anti-vaccine mad libs, re-using the same framework of misleading claims for every, single vaccine.
The reason AVI claims are recycled is simple--they work. AVI lies are meticulously manicured into believable headlines that are irresistibly click-able and effortlessly shareable. These headlines tug on the very heartstrings that every parent possesses - risk, fertility, death, danger - creating a guttural, instinctive avoidance response while amplifying confusion and anxiety. The true consequence, however, is continuing vulnerability to vaccine-preventable disease.
The claims of the Anti-Vaccine Industry do not go mainstream by accident or because they carry “hidden truth.” Rather, these claims are intentionally designed to activate our universally protective instinct as parents, using psychological trickery and emotional deceit, and hijack our ability to make an informed decision.
I anticipate the entire AVI playbook being rolled out as we press towards Covid vaccines for kids. In fact, I’m so confident in this complacent bunch, I’m going to tell you the future. As these important weeks for the health and safety of our kids begin, here are a few of the lies you will be told.
The AVI will claim: The Covid vaccine will damage your child’s fertility.
The Real Story: To be crystal clear, there has never (ever, ever) been a vaccine that has altered or changed a person’s fertility. This is a biological impossibility.
Threats to fertility have been in the AVI playbook for decades, most recently lurking in the corners of HPV vaccine disinformation. Fertility is an emotionally-rich and intensely personal topic for many people. In turn, this myth ticks all the boxes the AVI loves to exploit -- women’s health, personal experience, anxiety, protection, future promises, uniqueness. The reality, however, is the risk of fertility loss after vaccination is entirely fictional.
Specifically for the Covid vaccine, this myth has been fueled by the reports of menstrual changes after vaccination. Researchers are investigating an association between vaccination and menstrual change. Meanwhile, it stands to reason that since the endometrium (the lining of the uterus that becomes menstrual blood) contains immune cells, immune stimulation by many sources (vaccination, illness, stress, or medications) could initiate endometrial shedding. However, temporary period irregularity in no way suggests a change to long-term fertility.
There is no better expert to dig into the details than Dr. Jen Gunter. This expertly researched piece does an incredible job at derailing the myth of vaccinations and fertility.
In turn, due to the significant risks of maternal/fetal complications and death from Covid-19 in pregnant people, obstetric and fertility experts “enthusiastically recommend” all pregnant people, and those TTC, receive the Covid-19 vaccine and any necessary booster vaccines.
The AVI will claim: Too few children were studied.
The Real Story: The number of children studied in this investigation is exactly the number needed to confidently answer our questions about Covid vaccine safety, tolerability and effectiveness.
When a scientific study is designed, it is the responsibility of the investigators to determine the number of subjects needed to answer their research question. In other words, the sample size of any research study is mathematically determined in order to produce a statistically significant result. Experimental sizes that are too small or too big are wasteful in both time and resources.
The Pfizer study’s sample size will NOT capture every possible side effect, but this is not the goal. Pfizer’s data is meant to provide experts with information that supports the vaccine’s robust protection against a potentially lethal disease, with statistical power for safety and tolerability.
In the FDA brief, Pfizer researchers provide data summarizing over 3000 children aged 5-11 years old who received Covid-19 vaccination and approximately 1500 who received placebo. Additional safety and effectiveness data will be gathered during the five long-range post-authorization safety studies, including 5-year follow up of those individuals who experienced post-vaccine-associated myo/peri-carditis.
The AVI will claim: Kids have died after getting the Covid vaccine.
The Real Story: ZERO children have died as a result of getting the Covid vaccine. However, 558 children have died from Covid-19 disease as of October 14th, 2021, and Covid-19 remains one of the top ten causes of childhood death in the US.
This AVI claim is a classic attempt at a “gotcha” with whistleblower popularity. Those claiming this myth will cite research they discovered in the publicly-accessible VAERS database. VAERS is an important reporting system for all vaccinations, but it’s claims are commonly incomplete and falsified. Using VAERS data to claim vaccines are lethal is a callously opportunistic AVI play that uses public data to intentionally mislead. For details about the VAERS numbers, I found this Politifact post helpful.
The AVI will claim: We don’t know the long-term side effects of this vaccine.
The Real Story: In the history of all vaccinations, including Covid-19 vaccine, vaccine adverse effects (AEs) occur within weeks of administration. Period. Full stop.
Although it seems like an overnight sensation, mRNA technology has a rich history in both vaccine and cancer research. The mRNA used to stimulate human cells to safely create antigenic spike protein is quickly broken down in the body, being eliminated in a matter of days. The vaccine components cannot harbor silently in the body, making long-term effects from the vaccination implausible.
That being said, it is true that vaccination can cause AEs that result in long-term injury (oral polio vaccine causing rare cases of polio, for example.) However, these AEs happen within 6 weeks of vaccine administration. This is why the FDA requires two months of monitoring after administering any experimental vaccine, including the Covid-19 vaccine.
In the case of this Pfizer data, observational data for three different groups of children is included. Two groups were monitored for 3 months after dose 2, one group for 2.4 weeks after dose 2. Post-authorization studies are ongoing and will continue for up to 5 years.
The AVI will claim: Pediatricians get paid to give vaccines, that’s why they support them.
The Real Story: Ha, ha. Ha, Ha…. hardy har har.
Guffaw. Snort. Chuckle. Sigh. Yawn. Cry a little. Go back to my office. Reconsider my life choices. Consider working for an insurance company. Decide I’d rather die. Back out to see patients. Continue to wait for my check.
Every working pediatrician has been dealing with AVI shenanigans for years, while being some of the most qualified experts to discuss and translate vaccine information. I encourage every parent who has questions about the Covid vaccine for their child talk to a trusted pediatrician.
If you are unsure about something you see online, please stop before you share. Promoting and amplifying blatentingly false and misleading disinformation has directly contributed to death and divisiveness during this Pandemic. And, quite frankly, it’s up to us to stop it.
Be prepared. Check sources. Ask questions. We will learn more as we continue to get through this. Together.
After the FDA meeting, I’ll be breaking down the discussion with Dr. Nicole during Masks Off Live, our LIVE instagram show… because science is better with friends and wine.
Join us on Wednesday, October 27th at 7 pm CST. If you can’t make it live, the show will be saved on my Insta feed and pushed to podcast (new!) by the end of the week.
Until then, tap the heart if you learned something new, and I’d love for you to consider sharing this with a friend.