Like many Americans, I have concerns about giving my six-year-old a new vaccine that was not tested on humans until last year. Credit: Nataliia Maksymenko / Shutterstock

Leonard C. Goodman is a Chicago criminal defense attorney and co-owner of the for-profit arm of the Reader.

As a father of a young child, I am pressured to get my daughter vaccinated for COVID-19. And like many Americans, I have concerns about giving my six-year-old a new vaccine that was not tested on humans until last year, and that has been approved only for “emergency use” in kids. The feverish hype by government officials, mainstream media outlets, and Big Pharma, and the systematic demonization and censorship of public figures who raise questions about the campaign, provide further cause for concern.

This year, Pfizer has banked on selling 115 million pediatric doses to the U.S. government and expects to earn $36 billion in vaccine revenue. Congress is so in the pocket of Big Pharma that it’s against the law for our government to negotiate bulk pricing for drugs, meaning taxpayers must pay retail. Corporate news and entertainment programs are routinely sponsored by Pfizer, which spent $55 million on social media advertising in 2020. Even late night comedians like Jimmy Kimmel, who has called for denying ICU beds to unvaccinated people, have been paid by Big Pharma to promote the COVID-19 vaccine.

It is thus not surprising that most of the information reported in the press about vaccine safety and efficacy appears to come directly from Pfizer press releases. This recent headline from NBC News is typical: “Pfizer says its Covid vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11.” Moreover, by not advertising their vaccines by name, Pfizer-BioNTech and other drugmakers are not obliged, under current FDA regulations, to list the risks and side effects of the vaccine.

Most Americans are vaguely aware that COVID vaccines carry some potential risks, such as heart inflammation, known as myocarditis, seen most often in young males. But no actual data from the vaccine trials has been provided to the public. After promising “full transparency” with regard to COVID-19 vaccines, the FDA recently went to court to resist a FOIA request seeking the data it relied on to license the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, declaring that it would not release the data in full until the year 2076—not exactly a confidence-building measure.

Also troubling is a recent report in the British Medical Journal, a peer-reviewed medical publication, which found that the research company used by Pfizer falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial. The whistleblower, Brook Jackson, repeatedly notified her bosses of these problems, then e-mailed a complaint to the FDA and was fired that same day. If this scandal was ever mentioned in the corporate press, it was with a headline like this from CBS News: “Report questioning Pfizer trial shouldn’t undermine confidence in vaccines.”

On the other hand, the initial rollout of the vaccine appeared to be a home run. Reported numbers of new infections went down, and oppressive lockdown rules were lifted. Our bars, restaurants, and gyms opened up. Plus, my own experience getting the vaccine was positive, as I wrote about in an earlier column for the Reader. Is it possible that this time, the corporate media and government got it right? Is the mass vaccination of everyone, including kids, really the solution to our long COVID nightmare? I have tried my best to look objectively at the available evidence in order to make the best decision for my daughter. In this column, I share my findings.

The first thing I discovered is that the risk of COVID to healthy kids is extremely low. Or as the New York Times’s David Leonhardt recently put it, unless your child has preexisting conditions or a compromised immune system, the danger of severe COVID is “so low as to be difficult to quantify.” This raises the question: If the risk for kids is so low, what is the emergency that justifies mass vaccination of children without waiting for proper testing trials of the vaccine? 

The argument made most often is that we must vaccinate our kids to protect others. However, while most adults perceive children as little germ factories, the data suggests that kids are at low risk to spread COVID. Reports from Sweden, where schools and preschools were kept open, and kids and teachers went unmasked without social distancing, show a very low incidence of severe COVID-19 among schoolchildren or their teachers during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

I was also surprised to learn that there are reputable scientists opposed to mass vaccination, such as Dr. Robert Malone, an original inventor of the mRNA vaccine technology behind the COVID vaccines. As Malone explains, the mRNA vaccine contains a spike protein, similar to the virus, that stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies to fight COVID. He describes the vaccine as “leaky,” meaning it is only about 50 percent effective in preventing infection and spread.

Malone warns that overuse of a leaky vaccine during an outbreak risks generating mutant viruses that will overwhelm the vaccine, making it less effective for those who really need it. “The more people you vaccinate, the more vaccine-resistant mutations you get, and in the vaccine ‘arms race,’ the more need for ever more potent boosters.” Thus, Malone recommends vaccinating only the most vulnerable—primarily the elderly and individuals with significant comorbidities such as lung and heart disease or diabetes—and not healthy children.

If these views sound unfamiliar, it’s likely because Malone and other critics of mass vaccination have faced heavy suppression on social media and vicious attacks from corporate media outlets.

Meanwhile the U.S. mainstream press has ignored recent statements by Mexico’s health minister, Jorge Alcocer Varela, who recommends against vaccinating children, warning that COVID-19 vaccines could inhibit the development of children’s immune systems. “Children have a wonderful immune system compared to the later phases . . . of their life,” he explained, warning that “hindering” the “learning” of a child’s immune system—the “cells that defend us our whole lives”—with a “completely inorganic structure” such as a vaccine runs counter to public health.

A recent Harvard study provides further evidence that while vaccines protect us against serious COVID illness and deaths, they alone are not very good at stopping the spread of the disease. The study looked at COVID numbers in 68 countries and 2,947 counties in the United States during late August and early September. It found that the countries and counties with the highest vaccination rates had higher rates of new COVID-19 cases per one million people. And suggested other measures, like mask wearing and social distancing, in addition to vaccination.

In place of mass vaccination, Malone recommends early intervention with therapeutics shown to be effective against COVID, including ivermectin. In contrast, the corporate press has shamelessly attacked early treatments, and especially ivermectin, which it calls a veterinary drug, in reference to the fact that it is used to treat both animals and humans, along with many other drugs, including antibiotics and pain pills.

In October, popular podcaster Joe Rogan announced on his program that he had contracted the virus and took ivermectin, prescribed by a doctor, along with other therapeutics including monoclonal antibodies, and that he only had “one bad day” with the virus. CNN ridiculed Rogan for taking “horse dewormer.” On his show, Rogan grilled CNN medical expert Sanjay Gupta. “Why would they lie [at your network] and say that’s horse dewormer? I can afford people medicine.” Rogan pointed out that the developers of ivermectin won the Nobel Prize in 2015 for the drug’s use in human beings.

Why indeed is CNN and much of the mainstream press lying about ivermectin, a drug that has been used by literally billions of people to treat tropical diseases, and has been shown to be safe and effective in treating COVID in countries such as Mexico, India, Japan, and Peru? First, in order for there to be an emergency use authorization for the vaccines, there has to be no treatment for a disease. Thus, any potential treatments must be disparaged. That is, of course, until Pfizer releases its antiviral drug, PF-07321332.

Second, ivermectin is off patent, meaning Big Pharma can’t make a profit on it. It has been made available to poor people around the world at pennies a dose. In contrast, Pfizer’s COVID pill will be priced at more than $500 per course.

At this point, you can guess the end of the story. The final straw for me is the apparent lack of durability of the COVID vaccines. Recent data indicates that the limited protection from the vaccine lasts only four to six months. Since COVID is not going away, is it Pfizer’s plan to artificially boost my daughter’s immune system every four to six months for the rest of her life? 

We have been kept in the dark about vaccine safety and efficacy by our government and its partners in Big Pharma, who tell us they have looked at the science and it supports vaccinating our children against a virus that presents them with only the most miniscule risk of serious illness. As a parent, I will demand more answers before simply taking their word.