Amazon pulled the documentary film “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe” from its streaming services on March 2, in the most recent of several moves that restrict the public’s access to content that questions the safety of vaccines.
According to CNN, Amazon also made unavailable two other films: “We Don’t Vaccinate!” and “Shoot ‘Em Up: The Truth About Vaccines.”
Amazon didn’t respond to requests by The Epoch Times and by CNN as to why the films were removed.
The creators of “Vaxxed,” which has been available on Amazon since 2016, shared the rationale Amazon gave them for removing the documentary:
“Availability Issue: We are always listening to customer feedback and iterating on their behalf. During a quality assurance review, we found that the following title contains content that doesn’t meet our customer content quality expectations. As a result, all offers (‘Included with Prime,’ Buy, and Rent) have been removed. We will not be accepting resubmission of the impacted titles.”
The removal comes a day after Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking the company to restrict information that could make parents unwilling to vaccinate their children.
“The scientific and medical communities are in overwhelming consensus that vaccines are both safe and effective,” Schiff wrote in the letter. “There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling diseases, and the dissemination of unfounded and debunked theories about the dangers of vaccinations pose a great risk to public health.”
Schiff cited a CNN Business report that found that Amazon was recommending books and movies that question the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
Both Schiff and CNN say this content is “misinformation” about vaccines. In February, Schiff also wrote to Facebook and Google CEOs asking them to curtail “vaccine misinformation.”
Amazon’s restrictions on vaccine-questioning content follow similar moves by Pinterest and YouTube.
Pinterest is the most restrictive, having removed all vaccine content. If the search term “vaccine” is entered on the site, a blank screen appears with the message “Sorry, we couldn’t find any Pins for this search.”
YouTube, which is owned by Google, announced in January that it will start reducing the spread of content that comes close to violating its Community Guidelines by not recommending certain videos. According to a CNN report, YouTube doesn’t allow ads to appear on videos that question vaccine safety, thus demonetizing them. YouTube also removes ads from other kinds of content that it says isn’t advertiser-friendly.
Facebook also is poised to make vaccine-questioning content less prominent, according to the CNN report from Feb. 26: “Facebook is also considering making changes in its advertising policy, according to the [unnamed] representative. … Another change would involve putting results with vaccine misinformation farther down when people search for certain terms. This could result in major changes. According to recent CNN searches on Facebook, anti-vaccine groups now show up high on the list of results when the word ‘vaccine’ is searched.”
As of March 5, DVD copies of “Vaxxed” could still be purchased on Amazon; the film was listed as a No. 1 best-seller in the special interests category. It also had close to 4,000 reviews, of which 76 percent were five-star and 23 percent were one-star.
This isn’t the first time the film has been censored. It was pulled from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival due to the controversy surrounding its content.
Heart of the Debate
“Vaxxed” explores what is perhaps the most volatile issue in the vaccine debate: whether vaccines can cause autism. While public health officials are adamant that vaccines don’t cause the developmental disorder, some researchers and doctors, as well as many parents, disagree.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the vaccine education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is one who disagrees that there could be a link. “There aren’t two sides to the science. Vaccines don’t cause autism, diabetes, MS, or any of the other chronic disorders anti-vaccination proponents claim,” he previously told CNN. Offit is a co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine, the author of several pro-vaccination books, and a frequently quoted expert in media reports.
In an article on Medscape, Offit said that studies suggesting links between vaccines and many disorders do exist, but he dismisses these studies en masse as not being high quality and thus not worth taking seriously.
“In truth, you don’t have to look very far to find hundreds of published studies claiming that vaccines cause virtually every disease known to humankind,” Offit wrote. “About 6,500 medical and scientific journals in the world’s literature publish 4,000 studies every day. Not surprisingly, the quality of these studies follows a bell-shaped curve. Some are excellent. Some are awful. Most are mediocre. Scientific studies making irreproducible claims in the name of transparency are published all the time.”
Dr. James Lyons-Weiler, a research scientist and author of a book that explores complex science linking vaccine ingredients to autism, has a different point of view.
Lyons-Weiler, who has a background in biology, genetics, cancer research, and statistical analysis, wasn’t critical of vaccines before writing another book on the successes of modern medicine. He started writing a chapter on how much good vaccines have done, then he decided to do his due diligence and research the topic thoroughly. That research changed his views on vaccines; he now believes there is cause for concern that a certain subset of the population is more at risk for serious adverse reactions, and that further research is needed.
He says that, even though the epidemiological studies used by public health to show vaccines are safe are large, they can only show a lack of correlation. Lack of correlation doesn’t prove there is no causation in a subset of the population, but rather simply that vaccines may not be responsible for the majority of cases.
“My background in clinical and translational biomarker research told me that the epidemiology studies might miss real adverse events that occur in an unidentified genetic subset of individuals,” Lyons-Weiler told The Epoch Times.
“Causation is tested by mechanistic studies and experiment—and those studies tell a different story. When I evaluated the epidemiological studies, they only test correlation, and do not test causation—and they tested the correlation very badly, in my view. Not all vaccines were tested against valid placebos, and not all vaccines were tested even for correlation with some bad outcomes.”
He said he believes that public trust in vaccines can only be regained with better studies carried out by entities without financial conflicts of interest.
“With their latest moves with government-coerced censorship, Congress is vastly underestimating the degree to which public confidence is lost in the CDC, FDA, and other government agencies—and in vaccines, and in ‘Science,’” he said.
“For me, the removal of aluminum, mercury, and unsafe epitopes is absolutely necessary to regain public confidence. Doing real studies—long-term, saline-controlled vaccine safety studies of individual vaccines and of alternative schedules, by teams used to doing intervention studies, not epidemiologists—and at universities, not within agencies, is not only necessary to regain the public trust, but it is highly unethical to continue going down the current path.”