Film Stirs Vax Pot

'Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe' Plays at Riviera Theater

Ex-pharma rep Brandy Vaughan (left) and <em>Vaxxed</em> producer Del Bigtree
Paul Wellman

The controversial new film Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe drew hundreds of concerned parents last weekend to the Riviera Theatre, where producer, writer, and film subject Del Bigtree fielded questions about the 90-minute documentary covering corruption at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s largest public health institution.

At the core of Vaxxed is CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson, who in 2014 released a statement admitting (and regretting) that he and fellow authors of a 2004 article in the medical journal Pediatrics left out significant information that “suggested that African American males who received the MMR [measles, mumps, and rubella] vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.”

Bigtree reminded audiences that Vaxxed is not anti-vaccine but an exposé of that flawed safety study and the subsequent cover-up alleged by Thompson. The film also features parents’ stories of their healthy babies and toddlers who lost acquired speech, walking abilities, and affectionate eye contact very soon after getting vaccinated. During a Q&A after a May 21 screening, Bigtree said, “Thousands of parents are telling the same story.”

“CDC shares with parents … great concern about the number of children with autism,” said CDC spokesperson Sharon Hoskins in response to questions specifically about Dr. Thompson, via email. “CDC is committed to continuing to provide essential data on autism, search for factors that put children at risk … and look for possible causes.”

Joining Bigtree on stage was Brandy Vaughan, a UCSB graduate and former Merck pharmaceutical sales rep who said she left the industry during controversies surrounding Vioxx, a painkiller that was recalled in 2004 after it was revealed that Merck had silenced a report on its health risk, leading to thousands of deaths.

“One of the messages of Vaxxed is that it’s important for people to understand that the health-care system in the United States is a business, and we shouldn’t trust it blindly,” said Vaughan, founder of and the Council for Vaccine Safety.

Earlier this year, Vaughan spoke out against SB 277. Starting July 1, 2016, the controversial law requires schoolchildren to be inoculated against 10 commonly targeted diseases — and “any other disease deemed appropriate” — regardless of personal concerns or religious beliefs. Medical exemptions are still allowed.

With the 2016-17 school year right around the corner, Vaughan said she sees “a lot of parents freaking out because vaccine injuries are far more common than people think. I see families moving out of the state. I see more families opting for home school.”


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