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About the Writer and Director
Main Cast
Premises
Plot
Rating
Controversy

About the Writer and Director

Andrew Wakefield was a doctor who in the 1990s developed his own measles vaccine and therefore tried to discredit the existing one. In 1993 he published a report in which he suggested that MMR vaccines cause Crohn’s disease, a claim which was soon disproved. [1]
However, his activities attracted the attention of a group of lawyers who were preparing a lawsuit against MMR manufacturers and who offered him funding to prove the elusive vaccine/autism link in 1996.
According to Wakefield’s own statement in the film, he had no idea what autism was at that time, but he was quite delighted at getting a second shot at discrediting the existing vaccine while being funded for a project that could secure his future wealth. Over the coming years Wakefield was paid £439,553 for his efforts. [2]
In February 1998 he published his infamous report of 12 supposedly randomly picked case studies of children in which he lied about their medical history and condition in order to establish the proposed vaccination/autism link, and in June 1998 he applied for a patent for his rival vaccine. (Wakefield and his disciples claim that the patent application was merely for a 'Transfer Factor' and not for a rival vaccine. However, the application clearly states that 'such a composition may be used as measles virus vaccine'.) [3]
In the wake of the publication, a multitude of other scientific studies were carried out, none of which managed to establish any connection between vaccines and autism. [4]
It was only in 2004 that his fraudulent paper and his conflicts of interest were exposed by reporter Brian Deer. And it took yet another six years until the General Medical Council struck Wakefield off the register for ‘multiple separate instances of serious professional misconduct’ such as unprofessional and unethical behaviour, conflicts of interest and child abuse (by performing unnecessary and unauthorised invasive tests, including spinal taps, on the children and injuring one in the process). [5] [6] [7] [8]
He also invented and offers treatment for a bowel condition he calls autistic enterocolitis. [9]
Today he lives in the United States where he keeps campaigning against the MMR vaccine, peddling quack cures and paying himself six-figure salaries through his various 'charities'. [10]


Main Cast

Will Thompson, PhD
Andrew Wakefield, ex-doctor
Brian Hooker, biologist
Del Bigtree, journalist
Polly Tommey, housewife

as the ominous voice revealing a dark secret
as the silenced superhero vowing to end autism
as the researcher receiving a strange visitation
as the angry reporter
as a mother mourning the loss of her living child
Featuring
Jim Sears, paediatrician &
Rachel Ross, family physician
Parents
Congressmen
Internet Researchers

as the sceptical pro-vaccine professionals
who are converted by a pile of magic papers




Premises

The film Vaxxed is based on several false premises, the most important ones being:

Premise #1: There is an Autism Epidemic

Autism has been around as long as mankind, it just wasn’t understood before Hans Asperger did the first study on the subject. Some of us were hidden away, dumped in institutions or killed for being ‘retarded’, others struggled all their lives to be accepted or at least tolerated. While I agree that not every historic person can be diagnosed posthumously for having a single trait or by anecdotal evidence, there are many whose biographies provide sufficient evidence that they were autistic, such as Galilei, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Darwin, Orwell and Einstein, to name but a few.
Until just a few years ago, many GPs and paediatricians were entirely uninformed about autism, just like Andrew Wakefield himself, as he states in the film (‘I got a call on the 19th of May 1995 [...] I knew nothing whatever about autism’). The more people (especially professionals) know about autism, the more children are being diagnosed. Furthermore, the diagnostic criteria for the condition keep on changing and lead to more diagnoses.
And, naturally, the rate of diagnosed autistics will always be higher in the segments of society that can afford better or have access to free healthcare and in those that are more educated since they are more likely to recognise the symptoms.
The previous lack of knowledge is also the reason why older autistic individuals like myself grew up with lots of problems, painful experiences and absolutely no assistance; we were simply considered to be ‘difficult children’ and only got diagnosed in later life. (I was 50, and I know of others who were as old as 70 at the time of their diagnosis.)
And those of us who were diagnosed at an advanced stage are only a small fraction of the autistic adult population - most of those affected don’t know enough about autism to suspect themselves. And since most autistic adults live without a diagnosis, there is no reason to speculate that the increasing number of diagnoses indicates a rise in autism - it simply indicates that there are (and always were) more cases than previously thought. [11] [12]

Premise #2: Children can Develop Autism

Autistic people are autistic from the moment of conception. While some suggest that other factors may be involved, it is generally accepted by scientists that the genetic factor is by far the most predominant if not the only one. [13]

Premise #3: Dead Children are Better than Autistic Children

This, of course, is not a matter of science but a matter of opinion. However, autistic individuals and most of our parents will tell you that we disagree.


Plot

The film revolves around the voice of Will Thompson, a research scientist at the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) who supposedly ‘blew the whistle’ on his employer about documents that, as the film wrongfully claims, support Wakefield’s disproved assertion that MMR vaccines cause autism and whose phone calls with biologist Brian Hooker were recorded.

Hooker, who has an autistic child, receives a phone call out of the blue.
‘Brian, you and I don’t know each other very well. I don’t know how this is all gonna play out. You have a son with autism, and I have great shame now...’
Seems like Will Thompson has randomly picked Hooker out of the millions of parents with autistic children to pour his heart out.
But if Hooker didn’t expect the call, how come he taped it? And if they didn’t know each other, why does he address him by his first name? you may ask, and rightly so. The reason is that this conversation never took place.
The dialogue was spliced together from fragments of different conversations, taken out of context and put together to suit the filmmakers’ agenda, just like all other conversations with Thompson. [14]

In the study in question ([15]) Will Thompson’s only concern was a statistical significance of one single subgroup: that of black males. Race was not meant to be included as a criterion in the original study ([16]), and that didn’t change, but Thompson felt that this was something that should be looked into, nothing more. [17]
Still, even Thompson himself didn’t believe in an actual link, stating, ‘The fact that we found a strong statistically significant finding among black males does not mean that there was a true association between the MMR vaccine and autism-like features in this subpopulation.’ [17]
Trying to prove an MMR/autism link, Hooker used the data from the study, changing criteria around until he felt that the results suited his purpose. His paper was published in 2014 but quickly retracted by the editor for reasons of undeclared competing interests and questionable methods and analysis. [18] [19] [20]

Under the headline Did the CDC commit fraud?, the filmmakers purport to provide evidence of a CNC cover-up which, however, fails to withstand scrutiny:
Exhibit #1: Deviation from analysis plan
Exhibit #2: Omission of data
Exhibit #3: Destruction of documents
The CDC did not deviate from the analysis plan and did not omit any data, as mentioned above. The destruction of documents is not verified by any other participant, and even if it happened, these were hard copies of files that are still on the CNC’s database. [17]
For more details about these three points, see [21]
Exhibit #4: Obstruction of Justice: Here they make the point that parents with autistic children who are vaccinated can not claim compensation, which is not an obstruction of justice since there is no correlation.

The film also claims that no study has ever compared vaccinated and unvaccinated children regarding their risk of autism.
Studies can be of observational or experimental character. An observational study in this case compares the autism rate in vaccinated and unvaccinated children. Plenty of such studies have been conducted (and still are) without showing any correlation, especially in the wake of Wakefield’s fraudulent paper. This is a list of 107 of them.
An experimental study would require denying vaccines to the control group and comparing it with the treatment group (i.e. the ones who are being vaccinated). A study like this would not only put the lives of the unvaccinated participants at risk but also that of others since it could lead to epidemics of potentially fatal diseases. Therefore a study of this kind would be entirely unethical and endanger society itself; however, it appears that this is the type of study the filmmakers demand.

One of the recurring features of the film are anecdotal accounts of children being diagnosed with autism around the time of their vaccination.
The main criteria for autism are related to difficulties in social interaction. However, nobody expects advanced social interaction from an infant; only when as a toddler they don’t respond to their name, don’t interact with peers etc can the presence of autism be established. This age coincides with the age at which the MMR vaccine is usually given, without any correlation between the two.
The MMR vaccine protects from measles, mumps and rubella. Measles alone kills more than one in thousand infected children in the Western world and leave many more permanently disabled; they were declared eliminated in the United Sates in 2000 as a result of high vaccination rates [22] . The scaremongering of Andrew Wakefield, Miss October and others brought them back to the States and the rest of the world, and children are dying again thanks to their propaganda. Shortly after Wakefield launched his enterprise, a measles epidemic in Dublin infected 355 children and killed three of them. And in Romania, which experienced 6,743 reported measles cases since January 2016, 30 have died so far.

In order to portray autism as something to be feared and abhorred, autistic children are shown at their worst, and most likely without their consent. They are showcased as either aggressive or despondent, and their parents’ wish to have a different child is discussed in their very presence; it may not always be obvious, but autistic children understand very well what is being said, even if it doesn’t look like it.
Parent Mark Blaxill says about his autistic teenage daughter, ‘She was adorable, beautiful, cute’ (before the vaccines). I’m sure he lets her know that he doesn’t consider her to be any of these things any more.
Only 25% of us are non-verbal, and many who are non-verbal are able to communicate by other means, yet the film almost exclusively shows autistic children who don’t speak. The only exception is Polly and Jonathan Tommey’s son Billy who lies on his bed in an agitated state, saying, ‘I’m going to kill daddy!’
This is meant to give the impression that autistic children are a threat to their parents’ lives while statistics tell us that it’s far more likely that they are murdered by their parents, which Billy’s mother finds perfectly acceptable (‘Parents are taking the lives of their children already because they will not leave their children in a world as it is today, and I for one will never judge them for what they do’ [23] ), just like many others in the anti-autism community.
And in a particularly scary sequence of the film she tells us, ‘Out there, there’s millions of Mes, there’s millions of Polly Tommeys.’
While I don’t think I ever employed the expression myself, I’ve heard ‘I’ll kill you!’ being used on countless occasions by others who didn’t mean it literally and just needed to vent their anger or frustration. Hell, it was even used by one of the film’s actors, paediatrician James Sears, who threatened to kill his girlfriend’s ex. [24]

Vaxxed paints a picture of autistic children being obstacles in their parents’ lives, or at best an object that has no value, no identity, no feelings and no idea about what’s going on around them and does not require any affection or even respect.
All the children starring in the film appear to be what some call ‘severe’ or ‘low-functioning’, but the use of such labels is both misleading and demeaning. The ‘high-functioning’ label dismisses our struggles, anxieties and frustrations in trying to adapt to a strange society and its rules, and the ‘low-functioning’ label dismisses entirely the enormous potential of every autistic individual - and what you don’t look for you won’t find. [25]
Furthermore, autistic people regress and become ‘lower-functioning’ in the face of stress and pressure ( [26] ). This usually happens when their parents force them to act ‘more normal’, especially by subjecting them to behaviour alterations such as ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) instead of focussing on their strengths and encouraging their interests. The parents in this film certainly give the impression of fitting that bill.
On a side note, even though they cast Billy as a ‘low-functioning’ autistic for the purpose of this film, the Tommeys published a book in 2012 in which they claim they made him ‘high-functioning’. [27]

The filmmakers also use a multitude of daunting made-up statistics, diagrams and prognoses to get their point across.

After members of Hear This Well, another anti-science group opposing vaccines, are introduced, we are greeted by a dawn chorus of zombies, repeatedly chanting their unholy mantras ‘Vaccines cause autism’ and ‘Hear this well’.

Ironically, Wakefield can rightfully claim that he doesn’t tell parents not to vaccinate their children; sometimes he suggests to split the MMR into three separate vaccines (in which case he would profit from selling his own measles vaccine), and sometimes he suggests to vaccinate children at a later age. But nonetheless, in the hysteria he purposely created with his fraud, parents don’t vaccinate their children at all, and children will continue to die because of his propaganda.

The film concludes with the following demands:
#1 That Congress subpoena Dr. William Thompson and investigate the CDC fraud
Absolutely. This is the only way to set the record straight, even though the anti-science camp will claim that he was bought by Big Pharma.
#2 That Congress repeal the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and hold manufacturers liable for injury caused by their vaccines
I wouldn’t agree with this. While I think all companies should be held responsible for their products, in a case where it is mandated by the state (as vaccines should be), the state should be held accountable for any resulting damages; however, where the drug company is at fault, the state should be able to seek compensation.
#3 That the single measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine be made available immediately
I’m not a medical professional and don’t know how effective the single vaccines are; but if they are as effective as the MMR, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, as long as Andrew Wakefield doesn’t get to market his own measles vaccine and profit further from the dire situation he created for that purpose.
#4 That all vaccines be classified as pharmaceutical drugs and tested accordingly
This may sound sensible, but the filmmakers are talking about experimental studies in which the control group would not be vaccinated. While that seems reasonable for newly developed vaccines, it would have disastrous consequences if the concept were applied to established life-saving vaccines like the MMR.

While I am perfectly aware that the pharmaceutical industry, just like any other, would put their profit before any other concern, a man who tries to discredit the existing vaccines in order to market his own, who makes a fortune by offering quack cures and who is responsible for all recent measles deaths in the Western world accusing Big Pharma of a cover-up for financial gain is not a person I could take seriously - and neither should anybody else.

Besides all this, the pharmaceutical industry makes an average of $20 per vaccinated child and an average of $10,000 per measles-infected child from onset to death or recovery (and a lot more than that from those whom measles leave permanently disabled). So if anybody is promoting the interests of Big Pharma, it is the anti-vaccine movement.

Let me leave you with ‘whistleblower’ Will Thompson’s own words (from his only public statement):
‘I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.’ [28]

By the way, you may have noticed that I haven’t used the term ‘documentary’. The Collins dictionary defines the word as 'a factual film or television programme about an event, person, etc, presenting the facts with little or no fiction', which does not apply to Vaxxed.


Rating

Vaxxed is a B horror film which may entertain with some shocking effects and emotional appeals, but its storyline fails miserably in view of the facts, even for a work of fiction.


Controversy

The film is strongly opposed by scientists, the scientifically educated public and autism rights activists, and many of these think that the film, due to its misleading nature and possibly disastrous effect on public health, should be banned.

The filmmakers don’t tolerate any form of criticism, calling it ‘defamatory’ and ‘libelous’, and their studio has recently threatened an autism advocate calling for a ban with legal action. [29] [30]

Also, while claiming to expose what they call a ‘catastrophe’, the filmmakers insist that people pay to see the film instead of making it available to everybody. As an interviewer phrased it, ‘they are spreading the fear, but they are charging people for it.’ [31]

'You can throw your herd immunity, your polio, you measles, your anything-you like, your science, you can throw it all at us, and there's nothing that you can do because we're becoming more and more powerful.' - Polly Tommey


© 6257 RT (2016 CE) by Frank L. Ludwig
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