This August 11, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) overhauled its COVID-19 vaccine guidance for pregnant women, now “urging” them to accept their shots.
Just 23% of pregnant women in the US have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only something like 11.1% have been fully vaccinated.
The CDC is seeking to drive these numbers up, but it is not doing the one thing that would, perhaps more than anything else, assuage the “hesitations” of these so-called “anti-vaxxers”: investigate and explain widespread reports of menstrual disruption post-Covid 19 vaccine – and, if necessary, add a warning about it.
I have five female friends who, after receiving Covid-19 vaccines, experienced disruption to their menstrual cycles. Their symptoms have included hemorrhagic bleeding lasting more than a month; heavy intermittent bleeding for four months; passing golf-ball size clots of blood; and extreme cramping, serious enough to land one friend in the ER.
Most of these women are in their 20s and 30s, and at least one of them thinks she might want to have children. She now worries that her symptoms might be the harbinger of long-term fertility problems. At least two of my friends have symptoms that have not resolved. All are feminists and have throughout the years been consistent Democratic Party voters.
Other women of childbearing age have reported becoming temporarily “postmenopausal” after their second mRNA shot; conversely, women in menopause are reporting suddenly beginning to bleed again; trans men on hormone therapy have also reported sudden bleeding. Apparently, the number of vaccinated women around the world reporting alarmingly disrupted menstruation is, to be conservative, in the tens of thousands.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, does not warn women who get the shots that they may experience a disrupted menstrual cycle.
Why is this? In part because even though menstruation is sometimes called the sixth vital sign and directly implicates fertility, and the fact that women on average suffer higher rates of adverse reaction to vaccines of all sorts and medication in general, the effects of Covid vaccines on women’s health specifically, including the menstrual cycle, were not studied as part of the Emergency Use Authorization process.
Impacts on menstrual cycles are, it turns out, very rarely studied in clinical vaccine trials. Stated another way, the quality of COVID-19 vaccine safety data is better for men than it is for women, yet across the country, vaccine mandates make no sex-distinction and in practicality, actually fall more heavily on majority-women industries. In this way, it could be argued, women are not being treated equally under U.S. law.
And now, despite widespread reports of post-vaccine menstrual disruption, it does not appear the CDC or FDA are taking the issue seriously. I contacted the FDA press office with specific and detailed questions about widespread reports of menstrual dysregulation after Covid vaccination. After some back and forth, an FDA spokesperson responded with an official statement: boilerplate jibber-jabber that did not even speak to the issue of menstruation, much less state that all such reports had been investigated and dismissed.
One of my friends says, “I probably would have still gotten the vaccine, but I wish there had been research, a warning, something. My symptoms have been unpleasant and disconcerting, and it doesn’t seem like public health officials care. I think the way this is being handled will haunt me forever.”
Another, who is trying hard to not “freak out,” says “I wish I would have known about these side effects prior to receiving the vaccine. I would have been more cautious about receiving it. I hope the FDA takes these reports seriously and warns others about these side effects – after all, safety and regulation is their main responsibility.”
The fact that there is no warning, nor any urgent research into whether there should be a warning, seems jarringly sexist when you consider that the FDA has established and does warn that the mRNA Covid vaccines may cause rather trivial short-term side effects including the following: rashes, itching, hives, injection site pain, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, nausea, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, vomiting; plus the recently added and potentially lethal conditions myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart), which primarily affect young men.
In other words, the FDA sees fit to warn that you might get itchy after the shot but has not deemed it important to determine, and if necessary, tell women – women who might be trying to conceive – that getting the shot could, at least in the short term, scramble their cycle.
Spare a thought for the tens of thousands of women undergoing expensive, invasive fertility treatments like egg retrieval and in vitro fertilization. According to Pew Research, about one third of all American women will undergo fertility treatment at some point. Most health insurance plans do not cover these difficult procedures, so many women pay out-of-pocket, sometimes dropping tens of thousands of dollars. Surely such female medical consumers have a right to know if an mRNA vaccine can trigger, for example, spontaneous prolonged bleeding that disrupts their reproductive efforts.
Covid-19 is a real and potentially lethal virus. I do not need to be convinced of this. And I understand that any healthy society has the right to protect itself, and relatedly, to regulate its members. I have empathy for public officials charged with weighing competing interests and having to make difficult calls in navigating this crisis. Even more, I empathize with American families doing their very best to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities, often in the face of profound and disorienting loss.
But it is also true that members of any healthy society have the right to demand that such regulations be based on trustworthy evidence and moral reason; and where such regulations implicate fundamental liberties, to demand that they are no more invasive than absolutely necessary.
The severity of COVID-19 does not negate women’s need for a rigorous and trustworthy scientific appraisal of the benefits and risks they face if they accept a COVID-19 vaccine.
Women deserve an immediate and thorough investigation into reports of post-vaccine menstrual dysregulation, clear and honest explanations of the findings, medical guidance for restoring menstrual health, restitution where necessary, a redoubled commitment to the principle of informed consent moving forward, and (like everyone else) access to reasonable, clearly-communicated, non-punitive accommodations if they decline a COVID-19 vaccine at this time.
Instead, women concerned about the health effects of Covid-19 vaccines have been subjected to 1950’s-style dismissals and demonization in blatantly sexist terms that stand at odds with #MeToo era calls to “believe women.”
They now face the prospect of being barred from their educational institutions, prohibited from entering public accommodations, and losing their jobs unless they “choose” a medical therapy that has not even been fully approved by the Food & Drug Administration, which has left more than an insignificant number of their friends and loved ones struggling, alone, with surprise menstrual side effects, against which pharmaceutical industries enjoy a complete, multi-layered liability shield.
From a purely bioethical standpoint, this situation should be enough to give us pause, from those concerned with women’s health; to those concerned about fundamental civil liberties like the right to privacy, equal protection, free association, and free speech; to those concerned about fighting “vaccine hesitancy”; to those concerned about the continued (yet threatened) legitimacy of foundational U.S. institutions. But it seems many in our political class only care about or understand the DC horse race. So let us put it in those terms: this issue will show up in 2022.
By early spring 2021, anecdotal testimonies of sudden, early, disturbingly prolonged, abruptly absent, extremely painful, or unusually heavy and clot-filled menstrual cycles post-Covid 19 vaccination were circulating on social media. By May 17th, the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had received 4,000 reports of post-vaccine menstruation disruption. By early July, that agency had received 13,000 such reports. Similar reports emerged from other countries like Canada and India.
In the U.S., adverse reactions to vaccines are tracked by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which was created in 1987 and is co-managed by the FDA and the CDC. As of July 26, VAERS showed many thousands of reports of various menstruation disorders, most related to mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.
There had been 1,624 reports of “menstruation irregular” logged; 1,352 reports of “menstrual disorder”; 563 reports of “menstruation delayed”; 803 reports of “vaginal hemorrhaging”; 239 reports of “postmenopausal hemorrhage”; 95 reports of “hemorrhage urinary tract”; 57 reports of “abnormal uterine bleeding”; and 41 reports of “hemorrhage in pregnancy.” Even more seriously, there were 691 reports of “abortion spontaneous”; 88 reports of “fetal death”; and 25 reports of “stillbirth.” The CDC claims rates of miscarriage by vaccinated women is within the normal range.
The historical pattern is that most people do not report their adverse reactions to VAERS. A Harvard study from 2008 found that fewer than 1% of vaccine-related adverse events are captured by the system. Indeed, at least four of my five friends did not report their symptoms to VAERS. Today, matters have been complicated by the introduction of a new, parallel reporting system, the v-safe smart phone app, which the CDC created in December 2020 to track Covid-19 vaccine related adverse events. This is the system to which the vaccinated are generally directed when they receive their shots.
But raw v-safe data is not publicly available. If a person reports a “clinically serious” event to v-safe – that is, an adverse reaction that requires medical attention – an investigator is supposed to follow up with them and add the data to VAERS. In many cases, menstrual irregularity will not send a woman to the doctor. Thus, it is safe to assume that many v-safe collected menstrual disruption reports do not get counted by VAERS.
On the other hand, VAERS does not make clear how many of its reports might overlap. A doctor might report both “menstruation irregular” and “vaginal hemorrhaging” for a single woman. Also, reports to VAERS are not all verified.
Despite the limits of VAERS, the FDA and CDC take this data very seriously. Take as comparison the issues of myocarditis and pericarditis. As of July 26, VAERS showed 1,313 reports of Covid-19 vaccine-related myocarditis and 840 reports of pericarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle or heart lining. These are potentially serious conditions that disproportionately affect young men, and which can express as symptoms like chest discomfort, rapid or abnormal heart rate, fatigue, shortness of breath, and most seriously, long-term heart damage and even death.
It took only 226 confirmed cases of myocarditis for the CDC to convene an emergency meeting about it in June 2021, after which the FDA added a vaccine warning to both mRNA vaccines for myocarditis and pericarditis.
While VAERS shows 1,624 reports of “menstrual irregularity,” it is a challenge to find comment from either the CDC or FDA about either of these issues. We don’t know how many of these “anecdotal” VAERS reports are “confirmed” because there has not been an investigation – at least, not one that health officials have disclosed. One recent article asserts “the CDC is finally listening to women,” and “finally searching its vaccine safety database for reports of menstrual changes to try and identify how the vaccine might impact one’s period,” but it cites no press release, study, webpage, or CDC official.
Some may argue this is the case because myocarditis is obviously more serious than periods. But the menstrual cycle is extremely important, and disorders can become a major quality of life issue. As certified M.D. and midwife Aviva Romm explains in her book, Hormone Intelligence, “The correlation between our menstrual cycles and our lifelong health is so intertwined and significant that in 2006 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)” characterized the menstrual cycle as “our sixth vital sign, after temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and pain.”
Despite the centrality of menstruation to women’s health, and in spite of the thousands of reported impacts, to date, there have been no published studies examining the effects of Covid vaccines on women’s cycles.
As the National Institute for Health (NIH) stated in May 2021: “While anecdotal first person reports of menstrual changes in response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines exist, these associations, and their long-term consequences, have not been investigated in a rigorous or systematic manner. Clinical trials for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccine seem to have collected last menstrual period (LMP) data (to exclude current pregnancies), but have not collected menstrual cycle outcomes post-vaccine.”
Indeed, even sex-specific data on the general safety of Covid vaccines for women is scant. American medicine has a long history of excluding women from pharmaceutical research trials, then assuming the effects of medication tested on men would be the same on women – residue of ancient Greek medicine’s view that the female body was a deviation from the norm, which was male.
To many, this probably seems wrong-headed; and indeed, growing “scientific evidence” indicates it is a mistake. A recent University of Chicago and UC-Berkeley study found that women suffer higher rates of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical products than men, even when dosage is calibrated for differences in body weight. This is likely due to the more subtle dance of hormones that dictate women’s well-being, but the issue is very rarely studied.
It was not until 1993 that the federal government began requiring pharmaceutical companies to include women in their drug studies. And only in 2016 did the NIH begin to formally request that researcher grantees consider “sex as a biological variable” and specifically report on such findings.
Yet the fast-tracked Covid vaccine research skipped these provisions. Women were included in the initial Covid vaccine trials, however, none of these studies disaggregated research findings by sex.
When Moderna and Anthony Fauci’s outfit, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), co-developed one of the two experimental mRNA vaccines, the researchers announced that they would not perform analysis by sex because the small number of human trials would make accurate data interpretation too difficult.
In February 2021, the CDC published a study tracking general side effects (not related to menstrual cycles) after the first month of Covid vaccination. Predictably, it found that women had higher rates of adverse reaction. At that point, women had received 61.2 percent of the doses, yet they reported 78.7 percent of adverse side effects.
Shockingly, the only piece of current research on the topic in the US is a study by a self-described intersectional feminist anthropologist, Dr. Kathryn Clancy at the University of Illinois, and Dr. Katharine Lee, a postdoctoral research scholar at Washington University School of Medicine. Clancy experienced menstrual disruption after receiving a Covid-19 injection and tweeted about her “fascinating” side effect. After being inundated with stories from women reporting similar symptoms, she and her colleague Lee decided to investigate further.
Their open anonymous survey has received over 140,000 responses. But it seems to suffer from what is called “selection bias” – anyone with an agenda can fill it out. It appears to have no quality controls. I asked my husband to fill out the questionnaire though he has never menstruated. (He did not hit “submit.”) Clancy and Lee’s apparently lax protocols mean anyone – Big Pharma trolls and members of the “anti-vaxxer” scourge alike – can put their thumbs on the scale. Perhaps Clancy and Lee are somehow protecting against such corruption of their data; I posed this question to them in an email but received no response.
Significantly, in June, the National Institute of Health (NIH) announced it would spend around $1 million to support three to four studies looking into the potential link between Covid vaccines and menstruation disruption. A call for proposals was issued, but so far, no awards have been granted. Consequently, no research has commenced, much less concluded with helpful insights.
That means that as far as the public knows, no one is researching post-vaccination menstruation disruption in any serious way. Whereas myocarditis and pericarditis were promptly investigated, and a warning was added, it seems that clarifying whether there are links between menstruation disruption and Covid-19 vaccines is not urgent in the opinion of U.S. health policy makers.
Meanwhile, Emergency Use Authorization for young girls is moving full speed ahead, the CDC is extremely annoyed that pregnant women are so “vaccine hesitant,” and partisan pressure is mounting on the FDA to fully approve the Pfizer vaccine for all adults.
Press coverage of Covid vaccine-related menstruation disruption has followed a clear pattern: dismissive, trivializing, or hostile headlines and framing are followed deeper into the articles by acknowledgments that something may indeed be wrong.
An April 23rd Guardian headline blared, “‘No data’ linking Covid vaccines to menstrual changes, US experts say.”
The Guardian went on to quote an OB-GYN, Dr. Jen Gunter, recommending that women, “Think of potential menstrual irregularities as a vaccine side-effect like fever.”
Huh? There is “no data” that it is a side effect, but think of it like a side effect?
This kind of spin is common in mainstream media coverage: even as experts insist there’s “no evidence” of any link at all between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual disruption, they also reassure readers that “effects are all temporary,” and advise rest, hydration, and stress reduction. Most of my friends received similar advice from medical personnel.
A July 15th Forbes article titled “Why the Covid Vaccine Is Causing High Anxiety In Young Women” pejoratively characterizes women’s reported side effects as “grievances.” It goes on to describe how women’s discussions about their experiences on social media fuel vaccine “misinformation” and stoke unwarranted vaccine fears. Then, 2/3 of the way through the article, Dr. Sabra Klein of Johns Hopkins materializes suddenly with a quote acknowledging that yes, “women may experience heavy bleeding post-vaccination.”
A July 20th NPR article by a Mister Geoff Brumfiel, “The Life Cycle Of A COVID-19 Vaccine Lie,” situates women’s stories of menstruation-related side effects within a “persistent set of lies” that COVID-19 vaccines “can affect female fertility.” Yet he concedes there may be a “kernel of truth” to women’s stories, and quotes a scientist acknowledging that “a lot of women noted heavy menstrual periods” after their shots and tells readers, “Other scientists agree it’s possible.”
Sometimes, before urging the reader to get vaccinated, an article will observe that as upsetting as menstrual changes might be, they are obviously far less serious than the deadly COVID-19.
But that is, of course, missing the point: a death from COVID-19 is certainly more serious than a bout of nausea, yet the FDA still warns Americans about nausea when they get a COVID-19 vaccine, because people have a right to know about side effects and use that information to inform their personal medical decisions. This is called “informed consent.”
To the extent someone thinks it is wrong for a woman to decline a COVID-19 vaccine because of menstruation-related risks, since the personal and social benefits of getting vaccinated so clearly outweigh (it is argued) such risks – fine, that’s an opinion many people have. But is this to say that it is not necessary to study or warn women about menstruation-related side effects? Because they might, as a consequence, choose to forego Covid-19 vaccination?
Where articles manage to acknowledge the possibility that women are telling the truth, and that what they say matters, the dismissals shift to thinly veiled versions of the classic, “It’s all in your head, sweetheart.”
The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post quotes a lady gynecologist sounding every bit like her male peers: “Most people think the control of the menstrual cycle resides in the uterus, but it doesn’t… It resides in your brain,” she declared.
Incidentally, she is wrong. To quote the NIH, “Regular menstruation is a complex function that involves the hypothalalmus, pituitary gland, ovaries, and responsiveness from the endometrial lining of the uterus, among other tissues.”
The Lily, a publication marketed to millennial women, attempts to calm readers with a similar spin: “We must also be reminded of the plethora of other factors that can affect a person’s menstrual cycle – stress, anxiety, dietary changes, weight gain and loss, depression, environmental changes, and more.” The implication is that women with concerns about the impact of Covid-19 injections on their menstrual cycles suffer from mental issues.
There is no other way to put it: the same media that has congratulated itself for supposedly “believing all women” throughout the past five years of the #MeToo saga remains extremely sexist.
At their best, some articles offer theories, quoting doctors who speculate, for example, that excessive bleeding could be a post-vaccine inflammation response.
Alternatively, the NIH speculates that the issue may be related to the fact that the “target of the [mRNA vaccine’s] spike protein” is the “ACE-2 receptor” which “is expressed in the uterus” and “plays a functional role” in menstruation.
Left unmentioned is a controversial and repressed Pfizer rat biodistributional study, publicized by the previously respected but now persona non grata Canadian vaccinologist, Dr. Byram Bridle of the University of Guelph.
Dr. Bridle encountered this study through his own state-funded Covid-19 vaccine research. According to the specialist, the Pfizer vaccine’s novel lipid nanoparticles, which encase the delicate synthetic mRNA, and which were ostensibly supposed to stay at the injection site, instead travel throughout the body and 48 hours after injection have pooled in statistically significant concentrations in the adrenal glands, women’s ovaries, the pancreas, pituitary gland, and thyroid, among other organs. These organs are key to the endocrine system, and in females are responsible for regulating the hormones expressed as the menses.
Could this explain why women are experiencing menstrual dysregulation? Who knows. The Internet is busy scrubbing evidence of the study and attempting to repress Dr. Bridle’s public comments. It does not appear, however, that anyone has disputed the authenticity of the underlying study.
For many young women – most of whom are not at risk of a serious case of Covid-19 much less death – menstruation-related post-vaccine symptoms are distressing in part because of the relationship between menstrual health and fertility. As Forbes observed, “The persistence of infertility fears in connection with the Covid-19 vaccine may stem from women’s real experiences with unusual bleeding patterns.” Such fears are also relevant to transgender men, and echo those of others in the LGBTQ community.
Indeed, “vaccine hesitancy” seems to be especially pronounced among women aged 25-39 – that is women in the prime of their child-bearing years. Hesitancy seems particularly high for women of color, especially in the South, where the state-backed atrocities of the Tuskegee experiments and enforced sterilization programs are part of living memory.
When it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine and “fertility,” the official talking points have been dizzyingly contradictory. On the one hand, one regularly encounters passionate and categorical insistence that there is no evidence of any negative impact on fertility, short or long term, attending any Covid-19 vaccine. As of yesterday, the CDC now states, “There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.”
In the Guardian article from April, Dr. Gunter sneeringly invokes the age-old, disingenuous, sexist, and murderous conflict between male “scientists” and female “witches,” saying, “No, the Covid-19 vaccine is not capable of exerting reproductive control via proxy. Nothing is. This is because it is a vaccine, not a spell.” Brumfiel of NPR asks, “Can vaccines cause infertility, miscarriages? The answer to all this is no.” Concerns to the contrary, he says, are nothing more than “a persistent set of lies.” The New York Times states, “Scientists have said there is no evidence that the vaccines affect fertility or pregnancy.” Dr. Brian Levine, founding partner of a reproductive health clinic, says, “No one has been able to say that there are any untoward outcomes on anyone’s reproductive potential or reproductive future as a result of receiving the Covid-19 vaccine or the sequence of vaccines.”
A widely quoted male gynecologist told the BBC that there was “no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility.” Alan Copperman, MD, of the Mt. Sinai Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, claims “the evidence shows that the vaccines will not affect anyone’s fertility.” Just yesterday, from the Boston Globe, we are told there is “conclusive evidence that the vaccine has no negative impacts on reproduction.”
Such statements give the unmistakable impression that the matter of Covid-19 vaccination and fertility is resoundingly decided.
But, here’s what is confusing. The menstrual cycle – and please, someone do correct me if I’m wrong – is a fertility cycle, consisting of a follicular phase, the ovulation phase, the luteal phase, and then the passing of the menses itself. If a woman accepts a Covid-19 vaccine and begins to suddenly and hemorrhagically bleed, for weeks or months or end, this by no means necessarily suggests she is permanently sterilized, but nevertheless indicates her cycle has been thrown off track, which is a fertility-related side effect – one which is particularly salient to a woman trying to conceive.
Indeed, when one reads the medical literature and official corporate and government statements with the uncharitable eye of a lawyer (which I am), the medical establishment’s position on Covid-19 vaccination and fertility is strikingly more circumspect than that which appears in the press.
It turns out that the lack of “scientific evidence” that Covid-19 vaccines affect fertility has at least something to do with the lack of actual scientific research on the question.
During its vaccine trials, Moderna performed a rapid, 21-day fertility study on rats. There were no “safety signals” raised – but interestingly, the company itself was unwilling to draw conclusions from this data. Instead, in its FDA Emergency Use Authorization application, under the section “Unknown Risks/Safety Gaps,” Moderna wrote: “There are currently insufficient data to make conclusions about the safety of the vaccine in subpopulations such as…pregnant and lactating individuals….”
Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson included similar language in their EUA applications. Under the law governing Emergency Use Authorization, the FDA is supposed to disclose any gaps in safety data in its informed consent “Vaccine Fact Sheets.” But the lack of data on pregnant and lactating women is not, and has never been, noted on any FDA Covid-19 vaccine fact sheet: not for Moderna, not for Pfizer, not for Johnson & Johnson.
On June 17th, the New England Journal of Medicine published a preliminary study on the effects of mRNA vaccines on pregnant women. Its conclusion states, “Preliminary findings did not show obvious safety signals among pregnant persons who received mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. However, more longitudinal follow-up, including follow-up of large numbers of women vaccinated earlier in pregnancy, is necessary to inform maternal, pregnancy, and infant outcomes.”
Even the CDC, notwithstanding its new guidance, leads with the smartly-worded caveat: they assure that “[e]vidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination” is “growing,” but concede, currently remains “limited.”
More comprehensive studies are underway or planned, but not yet completed. One such study is MOMI-Vax. In late June, well after “tens of thousands” of pregnant and breastfeeding women had gotten a jab, the NIH announced it would begin a study of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy and postpartum.
In its June 23rd announcement, Anthony Fauci himself is quoted thusly: “Tens of thousands of pregnant and breastfeeding people in the United States have chosen to receive the COVID-19 vaccines available under emergency use authorization. However, we lack robust, prospective clinical data on vaccination in these populations. The results of this study will fill gaps in our knowledge and help inform policy recommendations and personal decision-making on COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.”
Fauci’s invocation of “choice” and “personal decision-making” with respect to Covid-19 vaccination is a rare admission. Indeed, that is what Covid-19 vaccination remains: not a requirement, but a personal choice flowing from an individual calculus of risks and benefits. To be clear, for many, including women, that calculus may weigh, clearly or slightly, in favor of receiving a vaccine. But, at least under these circumstances, it remains, and must remain, an individual calculus.
This should be especially self-evident as the vaccines in question are still permitted only through the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization process, which has lower safety and efficacy standards than in regular FDA approval procedures, and which requires those getting vaccinated be informed that theirs is a voluntary medical choice. Furthermore, these vaccines feature never-before-approved mRNA and adenovirus technologies which have failed previous standard clearance attempts (e.g. the erstwhile mRNA Zika vaccine), and , to use Fauci’s words, “lack robust, prospective clinical data” for key subpopulations like pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Nevertheless, according to Mayor de Blasio, proof of vaccination will soon be required for “indoor activities” in New York City. The Boston Globe declares, “Here come the vaccine passports,” adding a sense of inevitability despite fervent opposition from Boston’s Black female mayor, Kim Janey.
CNN’s Don Lemon distilled the logic of the vaccine passport into a viral rant demanding that unvaccinated people be forbidden from purchasing food at grocery stores and thrown out of their jobs.
President Biden – who noted during his run that “the President’s words matter” – has claimed the unvaccinated are “killing people.”
University, workplace, and public accommodations vaccine mandates are proliferating and hardening, under cover from Biden’s Department of Justice.
Even Jacobin, the country’s leading democratic socialist outlet, while name checking “civil liberties” concerns, calls for a “Nationwide Vaccine Mandate,” expressed as a flat vaccination requirement to access “mass transport,” something even President Biden says would be “too polarizing for the moment.”
The sudden demolition of civil liberties and informed consent has arrived just as Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Marin County, California – despite having some of the highest vaccination rates in the country – are seeing surges in Covid-19 cases among the fully vaccinated, who have viral loads just as high as unvaccinated people and appear to be transmitting the disease to others.
Indeed, a new report suggests that the Pfizer vaccine – which is currently moving through the full FDA approval process, although not fast enough for some – is only 42% effective against infection, leading an unnamed senior Biden official to remark, “If that’s not a wakeup call, I don’t know what is.”
One reason this is relevant is that less effective vaccines are also more dangerous. As described by MedPage Today in August of 2020, “Beyond side effects like fatigue and chills, which many vaccine candidates have been associated with in early data, one risk with any vaccine that winds up ineffective is that they could actually enhance disease.”
Indeed, a disturbing study from October 2020 in the International Journal of Clinical Practice found that the risk that “COVID-19 vaccines could worsen disease upon exposure to challenge or circulating virus” was “sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials.”
Should you want to publicly debate any of this in public, expect serious obstacles. For example, on Instagram, where over half of users are young women, it is impossible to “follow” vaccine-related hashtags. Whether it’s #Vaccine, #VaccinesAreGreat, #NoVaccinePassports, or #VaccineMenstruation, you can’t track posts that feature such hashtags – obstructing collective sharing and discussion, and only reinforcing public fear and paranoia.
How considered is the public policy championed by the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party, erstwhile defenders of a strong Constitutional rights to civil liberties like bodily privacy, free speech, freedom of association, and equal protection for women under the law?
The pat and popular justification is that the vanguard of the “vaccine-hesitant” is old, white, male, Trump-voting, and gripped in a conspiratorial mania. The safety of the collective is, so it is argued, clearly more important than the liberty interests of such “deplorable” people.
Setting aside the dubious merits of that formulation, is it even true that that’s the archetype of the “vaccine hesitant”? In the past several weeks, a variety of nurses’ unions and teachers’ unions, including those in New York City and San Francisco, have voiced opposition to vaccine mandates, and long-term care facilities warn that vaccine mandates could make dire staffing-shortages even worse. New York schoolteachers, nurses in California, elder care workers in Massachusetts? Not your typical “Trumpers.”
Over the past few months, descriptions of the “vaccine hesitant” in the press have grown steadily more vague. But it remains clear that the young are more hesitant than the old, Black people are more hesitant than whites, and women are still more hesitant than men.
Early in the mass vaccination campaign, the Guardian reported that “patterns of vaccine hesitancy among women have been found globally,” and were “connected to mothering and the responsibility women carry for the health of their children, particularly in the early years.” An early National Geographic survey found that 69% of men were “somewhat likely or very likely” to take the vaccine, compared to only 51% of women.
And the reason for “hesitancy” most commonly cited? Concern about side effects.
In a call for a national vaccine mandate, self-described democratic socialist journal Jacobin missed this salient fact. “The reasons people are still unvaccinated are complicated, like a lack of accessibility, a fear of surprise billing, and a lack of trust in the government, and designing solutions around those factors is key,” Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic claimed.
Those may also be factors, but any “solution” to “vaccine hesitancy” that fails to address women’s concerns about widespread reports of menstrual disruption and seeks to hide government-recognized limits to the data is certain to fall short.
It is also useful to recall the Democratic coalition hinges on union members, young people, African Americans, and women; people who are, incidentally, overrepresented in those industries where vaccine mandates are falling heaviest, like education, hospitals, nursing homes, and government jobs.
For Democrats to maintain control of the House in 2022, they need the best midterm performance in history. If it’s even the second best performance? They lose.
So will all “vaccine hesitant” union members, young people, Black Americans, and women endure a policy, celebrated in nearly all quarters of the media – and even by self-proclaimed socialists – that seeks to bar them from accessing higher education, public accommodations, and employment?
Will all the women currently dealing with menstruation-related side effects endure a policy that refuses to timely investigate their post-vaccine menstruation-related symptoms, however widespread and serious, but instead proceeds to mandate Covid-19 vaccination for their daughters, still with no warning added?
Will absolutely all these people remain loyal in the 2022 midterms, defending the Democrats against sweeping Republican redistricting? Even all those in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, and Ohio, swing states where the rate of full vaccination remains well below 50%? Despite what was augured by Donald Trump increasing his share of female and minority vote in 2020?
Perhaps. After all, women at least are generally socialized for selflessness and forbearance. And Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill is popular.
But here’s a clue to the contrary. The Democrats, having exhausted creative vaccine incentives like free sandwiches, marijuana joints, lap dances, $100 cash payments, and a $1 million raffles, are now hard at work figuring out maybe-legal ways to make it ever more inconvenient and unpleasant to have “unvaccinated” status.
Nevertheless, vaccination rates are stubbornly stagnant.
Women have been on the frontlines of Covid-19 pandemic. As nurses, they have been battling a virus very possibly created with the complicity of their own government. They have often had to work without adequate PPE, personnel reinforcements, or rational systems, because the U.S. has been for years busy cutting its healthcare capacity to the bone for the sake of “efficiency,” code for private profits.
As schoolteachers, they have been working around the clock, learning new digital systems, adjusting curriculum back and forth according to school board guidance that changes by the hour, this week in person, next week virtual.
As mothers, they have struggled to keep their young children focused on virtual schoolwork, older children buoyed above the pits of isolation-induced depression, while simultaneously managing their own jobs from home. They have given birth alone, without their partners or other vital forms of support, and have suffered worse maternal and fetal outcomes.
Most of this they have done heroically and without very much complaint.
Now, society has called on them to get one or two shots. That’s it. They’re free, they’re everywhere, everybody’s doing it. And if women decline, the cost could be high. Sure, they might lose friends and the President might call them a murderer, but that’s the least of it. They could also be barred from eating at restaurants with their families, lose the right to attend university, even get fired from their great, new job in Biden’s awesome, stimulus-charged economy.
Still, it seems that multitudes of women are prepared to continue declining The Jab.
A powerful question looms above this unfolding crisis: Who benefits?
According to one report, “At least nine people have become new billionaires since the beginning of the pandemic, with a combined net wealth of $19.3bn.” Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine revenue thus far for this year is over $26 billion.
But wait, those new pharma billionaires will be held accountable if they cut corners and harm people with poorly tested vaccines, right? And surely women who incur large medical bills dealing with their vaccine side effects – like my friend who had to go to the ER and is now getting pestered by billing – can plead their case in the courts, enter their facts into the public record, and be “made whole.”
Actually, no. Since the 1986 bipartisan passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act under President Ronald Reagan, American vaccine makers have been totally indemnified against potential lawsuits. If they injure you with their vaccines, you cannot sue them. Instead, you must appeal to a small, notoriously Kafka-esque and anti-plaintiff entity managed by Congress, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
Furthermore, because Covid vaccines only have Emergency Use Authorization, anyone injured by them is excluded from VICP. Instead, the injured must pursue their claim through the even more limited Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), which, for example, does not reimburse for attorney’s fees even in victorious cases – meaning that unless you can pay for a lawyer out of pocket, you probably won’t be able to secure legal representation.
Thus, for Big Pharma there is very little downside to a recklessly aggressive mass vaccination campaign. It is promised mega profits with zero risk.
And given that the pharmaceutical industry is the largest spender of all corporate lobbies, most U.S. government leaders are particularly ill-equipped to challenge them, as Senator Bernie Sanders tried to highlight in his presidential runs. During the 2020 Democratic primary, Biden was the leading recipient of donations from pharmaceutical companies.
This would not be the first time the pharmaceutical industry has reaped massive profits from a social catastrophe with the aid of the federal government. Consider the opioid crisis, which has ravaged America, from New Jersey to Kentucky to California.
In 2020, as Americans were placed under economically and psychologically taxing lockdowns to lower Covid-19-related deaths, opioid-related deaths increased by 30% – and in some states, surged by a rate of 50%. Meanwhile, the Sackler family that has raked in at least $12 billion in profits from all this misery walks free.
So again, my question to the FDA is this: If you warn of dizziness, why do you not also warn about possible disrupted menstruation? Why is this issue not being more urgently studied?
You held an emergency meeting on myocarditis, so why no meeting about women hemorrhagically and erratically bleeding for months on end? Is it because this “vital sign” is less “vital” since it only affects women? Is it because menstrual cycles are “just so incredibly difficult to study” – i.e., like women, they’re sort of crazy?
Are Big Pharma and the US government afraid that vigorous and transparent research might reveal larger, structural and legally troublesome problems? Do they worry that if women and girls are apprised of the full scope of potential side effects, they may act irrationally, refuse to get a Covid vaccine per the program, and so cannot be trusted with this information?
Instead of answers, they are preparing to give us orders.
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