Local handling of COVID vaccine troubles breeds medical mistrust

TALK IT OUT: Dr. Patrick Hanaway, an integrative physician at Family to Family in Asheville and chair of the national nonprofit Institute for Functional Medicine's COVID-19 task force, says health providers may undermine trust by minimizing their patients' concerns about COVID-19 vaccines. Photo by Jason Kindig Photography

A day after getting his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at A-B Tech, Matthew Cash, an asthmatic but otherwise healthy 31-year old from Asheville, developed tiny blisters on his palms. Two days later, he says, the rash had spread “everywhere,” including inside his ears and on his lips, eyelids and the soles of his feet.

“It itched and it burned and it hurt,” Cash says.

By the fourth day after the shot, he had a pounding headache and shortness of breath. Cash says his eyes, tongue and throat had swollen to the point where he “had a pretty hard time breathing or talking.” He improved after being administered IV steroids at Mission Hospital, but six months later, he still has “hot spots.”

Cash says Mission doctors suggested his rash might have been caused by a change in detergent and diagnosed him with an unspecified allergic reaction. When he brought up that he’d recently gotten a COVID-19 shot, he says, they “did not want to entertain that it was anything to do with that vaccine whatsoever.” But according to Cash, nothing else in his life had changed, including his detergent.

“I’m a constant. … The only thing I did was get this shot,” Cash says. His allergy doctor in Biltmore Village advised him not to get the second dose, which he has no plans to do.

Stories such as Cash’s are supposed to be collected by the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a database of possible reactions to shots voluntarily submitted by health providers, vaccine makers and members of the public. (Neither Cash nor his doctors submitted a report.) Despite inconsistent reporting, VAERS is capturing many such events.

As of Dec. 31, over 1 million reports had been filed with VAERS following more than 504 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, including over 113,000 hospitalizations and more than 21,000 deaths. Prior to the pandemic, the VAERS database averaged 40,000 adverse events for 317 million annual vaccinations, primarily administered in children.

Reports from North Carolina have detailed over 1,300 serious events after more than 14.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. According to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bailey Pennington, serious events involve permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness or death.

VAERS reports do not prove a causal link between vaccination and any adverse event, says Buncombe County Health and Human Services spokesperson Stacey Wood, but they do help officials identify possible safety concerns. Stacie Saunders, the county’s public health director, notes that VAERS helped spot blood-clotting issues associated with some COVID-19 vaccinations. Due to that issue, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now discourages use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in favor of the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Federal data, however, is only as good as local reporting. In speaking with Western North Carolina’s county health officials and hospitals, Mountain Xpress found inconsistencies in how adverse events are reported. And a local canvass of online groups, community members and health care providers by Xpress found at least 25 adverse events from the Asheville metro area, many of them serious. Only a handful had been reported to VAERS.

Many WNC residents who spoke with Xpress say they shared their negative responses after vaccination with health providers. But they also say their concerns have been minimized or ignored, driving mistrust about COVID-19 vaccines and the medical establishment.

Who’s counting?

According to the CDC, health care providers who administer COVID-19 vaccines are legally required to report any serious adverse event to VAERS, “regardless of whether the reporter thinks the vaccine caused the AE.” No public entity enforces that reporting requirement.

After giving tens of thousands of shots over the past year, the Haywood, Madison and Henderson county health departments have not filed any VAERS reports for COVID-19 vaccines. Buncombe County’s health department has filed 20 reports, says Wood, just one of them serious — an allergic reaction that required epinephrine injection and hospitalization.

However, some workers with local emergency services say they regularly respond to vaccination-related events. A firefighter with a Buncombe County department, who asked to remain anonymous due to concern for his job security, says his station responds to “a couple” of COVID-19 vaccine reaction calls every eight-day cycle, amounting to between 50 and 100 calls over the past year.

“In the last week or two, I’ve run more strokes than I usually would in months,” he says. “It’s just insane.” Most people say they feel tired or want to pass out, he says. If he spots one of those common symptoms, he says, experience has taught him to ask whether that person has recently received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The firefighter says that in his view, it’s “100% useless to send reports up the chain.” He believes his department’s fire chief takes cues from county officials, who he says are pro-vaccine.

And a Buncombe County EMT, who also asked to remain anonymous for job security, says crews have responded to dozens of calls for people who have had adverse events after receiving the vaccine, including a 20-year-old who got his first dose two hours before he “face-planted, unconscious” while walking into a gas station in Asheville. The EMT says he woke up with neurological issues that have not gone away since.

Neither the Asheville Fire Department nor Buncombe County Emergency Medical Services responded to requests for comment.

Madison County Health Director Tammy Cody says two individuals have been transported from mass vaccination events in the county to the hospital for “panic attacks” and were discharged soon afterward; neither incident resulted in a VAERS report. Meanwhile, Henderson County’s health department has asked individuals to “self-report” adverse reactions, says spokesperson Anthony Mundhenk. While he notes that the county has helped some people file VAERS reports, he did not share those numbers.

Everyone who receives the vaccine at a Henderson County clinic is given a flyer with instructions on how to report a reaction, Mundhenk says, as is common practice with other county health departments. (Cash and several other local vaccine recipients who spoke with Xpress said they did not remember receiving that paperwork.)

Local hospitals were also inconsistent in their description of reporting requirements. In contrast to the CDC’s mandate that adverse event reports be filed regardless of apparent causation, Adrienne Giddens, pharmacy director for Pardee UNC Health Care in Hendersonville, says that providers who treat events that occur after a 15- to 30-minute post-shot observation period are only responsible for reporting to VAERS “if they feel the symptoms are potentially a response to the vaccine.” She recalls “only a couple immediate, minor reactions out of the more than 30,000 doses we administered.”

Mission Hospital spokesperson Nancy Lindell emphasizes that staff members are only legally mandated to report adverse events to vaccines given at the hospital, not reactions of patients who have gotten the shot elsewhere. “If we didn’t administer it, then we’re not required to report. I’m not saying we’re not [reporting],” she adds. She did not disclose whether the hospital had filed any reports for patients claiming to have had vaccine reactions.

Although Mission did not offer the vaccine to the general public, the hospital did vaccinate many of its own staff. Lindell notes that some employees experienced adverse events but she did not provide specific numbers.

‘Nothing to see here’

Almost all of those who shared their experiences with Xpress say health care providers have downplayed any potential link between their adverse event and the vaccine.

One 47-year old health care worker in Asheville, who requested anonymity due to fear of professional repercussions, says doctors think she’s “crazy” for believing the vaccine injured her. “But I’m not. My body shows what’s going on,” she continues.

She says her life has been “hell” since the day she got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at an Ingles pharmacy in Fletcher. After two weeks of headaches and debilitating joint pain, her body broke out in blisters that scabbed over.

“They just keep getting bigger and bigger, on my face, up my nose, in my ears, between my fingers, all over my body. It’s painful to the point where you don’t want to wear clothes,” says the woman, whose employer mandated the shot. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

About five months have passed since the shot, she says, but she still cannot return to work in person. She is often bedridden and has developed anxiety, depression and a rapid heartbeat, despite being previously healthy. Doctors have yet to offer a clear explanation for her illness or provide effective treatment.

The woman says her social life has been ruined, as she often cannot get out of bed. She says she feels hopeless, alone and afraid to share her story with friends on social media out of fear it would jeopardize her career.

“Is this ever going to end?” she asks. “Will I ever get my life back, will I ever get back to my normal job, will I ever get to hang out or make plans again?”

Debra and Danny Jones, a married couple in Candler, both believe they were injured by their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The 67-year-olds complain that their primary care doctors have disregarded their suspicions and not filed VAERS reports.

“I’ve had headaches worse than I’ve ever had in my life; every joint in my body ached,” says Danny Jones, who previously operated heavy machinery 10-12 hours a day and walked 4 miles a day to keep his prediabetes in check but has been forced to stop both activities. “I fatigue out at nothing now.”

For months after receiving the vaccine, Debra Jones reports that she had “no energy” and a combination of aches, pains and itching. Just as she began to improve, she had a heart attack.  She now believes the vaccine is designed to “get rid of” older people.

Local county health departments have emphasized the CDC’s message that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines, including significantly lower hospitalization and death rates after coronavirus infection, outweigh potential adverse events. Most side effects in Buncombe County have been “common and mild, like soreness at the injection site,” says Wood. “The risks of COVID-19 illness are much greater than the rare risks of serious adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination.”

(The package insert for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine lists pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and muscle pain as the most common reactions. Vaccine reactions reported to VAERS have included seizures, paralysis, blood clots, brain bleeds, heart problems, extreme fatigue, menstrual irregularities, shingles, Bell’s palsy, anaphylaxis, worsening of autoimmune disorders and death.)

To Dr. Patrick Hanaway, an integrative physician at Family to Family in Asheville and chair of the national nonprofit Institute for Functional Medicine’s COVID-19 task force, the medical community’s approach to talking about risk may be counterproductive. Questions about COVID-19 vaccines, he says, tend to be “minimized” by authorities “so as not to create alarm. … The CDC’s saying, ‘There’s nothing to see here.’”

That strategy, Hanaway continues, “can lead the public to see legitimate medical research as an agent of the medical-industrial complex, which is not to be believed, which is trying to serve itself, and that’s unfortunate.”

Hanaway believes VAERS signals and emerging studies challenge the idea that the shot is safe for everyone, especially given what he estimates to be substantial underreporting of adverse events. One major study, published in 2011 by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Massachusetts, found that fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events were reported.

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign remains important for public health, Hanaway continues; he notes that vaccines reduce severe infection by sixfold, hospitalization by 12-fold and death by 20-fold. But he is taking a “hold off” approach to vaccination for some of the patients in his practice with severe autoimmune problems.

“If there is some finite degree of adverse events that happen from vaccination, why would we want to booster, booster, booster?” he asks.

A matter of timing

Some of the limited recording of adverse events by health officials may be due to the delayed onset reported by many vaccine recipients. Because those being vaccinated are typically only monitored at county sites for 15-30 minutes after their shot in accordance with CDC guidelines, says Mundhenk with Henderson County, reactions that occur after the observation period “would be difficult to attribute to vaccination” and are “extremely rare.”

An October study published in Toxicology Reports found that 60% of all deaths reported to VAERS in association with COVID-19 vaccination between December 2020 and May 2021 occurred within eight days of receiving the vaccine, an acute temporal relationship. The CDC mandates that serious adverse events occurring within seven days be reported for most vaccines.

Hanaway suggests that the technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be prone to generating delayed adverse events. Unlike most other vaccinations, which evoke a response by exposing the immune system to a weakened version of a pathogen, the coronavirus vaccines instruct the body to produce a piece of the coronavirus itself: part of the “spike protein” found on the virus’s surface.

According to the CDC, both the messenger RNA genetic instructions delivered by the vaccine and the coronavirus proteins made by the body are quickly broken down. But Hanaway points to a study conducted by Harvard University researchers that found spike proteins can endure in the body for at least a week; he says the true timeline remains a mystery.

Those proteins and mRNA strands, Hanaway continues, may cause harm if they linger in the body. A study published by the Salk Institute in April, he says, determined “that the spike protein in and of itself induces vascular inflammation.”

“We may not yet clearly understand all the mechanisms at play when it comes to adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines,” Wood acknowledges, although she says “stimulation of the immune system” is one possible cause.

Asheville integrated and holistic medical practitioner Dr. Mark Hoch, who has treated three patients for what he believes are severe reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, calls advising the vaccine for everyone without medical consultation a “cookie-cutter” approach and “completely against good medical practice.”

“You don’t treat a two-year-old like an eight-year-old; you don’t treat a person with a million comorbidities as you treat a healthy person,” Hoch continues. “There is no standard answer.”

And Sara Fields, a doctor of acupuncture with offices in Asheville and Brevard, says she has treated three patients for what she believes to be long-term side effects to COVID-19 vaccines: an older woman who suffered a blood clot and now has debilitating leg pain and trouble walking; a formerly healthy patient who experienced heart palpitations, can no longer do strenuous activity and now suffers from anxiety and depression; and a patient whose decline in cognition and energy levels have interrupted her “daily life tasks.”

‘Begging for awareness’

BEFORE AND AFTER: Kristi Simmonds, shown with her husband, Nigel, says she had 16 consecutive seizures in the week after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and continues to have symptoms such as periodic Bell’s palsy (inset) and chronic pain. Photo courtesy of Simmonds

Kristi Simmonds, a previously healthy 41-year-old nurse from Mitchell County, says she has felt abandoned by the medical system following her COVID-19 vaccination.

A week after receiving the Moderna vaccine, Simmonds had 16 consecutive seizures and was transported to Mission Hospital by helicopter. Nearly a year later, she says she still has intermittent seizures, periodic Bell’s palsy and chronic pain in the left side of her head that radiates down the arm — the side where she got the injection. She can no longer work or drive.

“I went from being completely independent to being dependent. I can’t be left home alone because some of the seizures cause me to stop breathing, and if I’m home alone, I could die. My husband has gotten very good at bringing me back,” Simmonds says.

After seeing dozens of doctors, Simmonds says, none will confirm her injury is related to the vaccine. Her adverse event report to VAERS does not mention seizures, and Simmonds believes it was altered after submission. She also says that Mission Hospital tried to pin her reaction on a decades-old psychiatric event.

Simmonds’ medical records show that a variety of tests at Mission Hospital, including an electrocardiogram, failed to show any irregularities, and she was diagnosed with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures and conversion disorder.

“They pretty much tried to say she was crazy and report her to psych, so I took her out of the hospital,” says her husband, Nigel Simmonds.

While Kristi Simmonds had mental health problems a dozen years ago after an abusive marriage, she says she has not seen a psychiatrist in a decade and has no history of seizure or tremor disorders. Mission medical staff failed to confirm that she was no longer on psychiatric medication, she says.

Mission spokesperson Lindell said she could not comment on Simmonds’ specific case due to patient privacy laws. But she said the hospital treats symptoms as they appear in medical tests, not based on a patient’s claims.

Anissa Sain, the North Carolina administrator of volunteer-run RealNotRare.com, says Simmonds’ account echoes many of the themes found in the website’s thousands of self-reported reaction stories. Complaints about doctors, she notes, are common among those claiming to be injured by COVID-19 vaccines.

Those reporting to RealNotRare, Sain continues, often say their health providers haven’t read manufacturer fact sheets on the risks posed by COVID-19 vaccines, fail to include a full accounting of post-vaccine symptoms in their medical charts and imply that the suffering from coronavirus infection is greater than that from the vaccine.

“We are literally begging for awareness,” she says. “Until we get recognition and awareness, we are not going to get the appropriate support and medical care.”

Those who believe they were injured by the vaccine, Sain says, are socially stigmatized and often called “anti-vaxxers,” despite having gotten the shot.

“Some nurses go so far as to advise people not to mention the vaccine to their doctors, since once a doctor hears anything about this vaccine, we are looked at totally differently,” she notes. “They do not want us on their case list.”

“The suicide rate in our group is astounding because of the social stigma and health issues we go through. People live in dark days,” Sain continues. ”It’s one of the saddest parts of this.”

If you believe you have had a reaction following a  COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC encourages you to report it to VAERS online at avl.mx/b2y or by completing the form available at avl.mx/b30.

Edited at 12 p.m. Jan. 18 to clarify Dr. Hanaway’s position on adverse event underreporting.


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27 thoughts on “Local handling of COVID vaccine troubles breeds medical mistrust

  1. Jason Williams

    When I read this article I was certain I had picked up a copy of The Daily Planet mistakenly.

  2. Lars Larsen Clark

    If anything is breeding mistrust it is this article. Correlation is not causation and you can’t take anecdotes as data.

    • wakeupthyme

      Facts and people’s life stories and struggles are not anecdotes.

        • EarthBlume

          not if it’s constantly reported. At that point, according to the data provided, it is underreported, manipulated, and dismissed. I’ve seen this happen to others and well as myself. Just because you don’t agree with it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I urge you to stand back and see another’s point of view, the people who deserve the scientific representation they though they would get in the medical community. I work with a clinic that sees this ALL. THE. TIME. We are working with other doctors and labs trying to build the data to provide evidence for therapies to help these types of illnesses. Please don’t downplay others’ struggles simply because you think everyone needs a vaccine regardless of their medical problems, that is not a responsible recommendation.

  3. J.K.

    Anyone that has expended even a minute amount of effort toward unearthing the truth about these vaccines has realized that adverse events are common yet go completely ignored. The vaccinated are relegated to the trash bin when their experience runs in any way counter to the narrative. Meanwhile the MSM remains silent and continues to steamroll the truth for its corporate overlords. Sad that an issue of basic human rights has been kicked into the thresher of polarization. It takes real integrity to publish basic truths against the grain and I commend the publishers at MX for allowing writers like Niko to bring these issues to light. Small publications can change the world when they refuse to relinquish their scruples. Thank you.

      • Ahuman

        After reading the above-referenced JAMA article, it states clearly that “Only AEs in terms of solicited reactogenicity symptoms were derived. Long-term observations or follow-up data were not considered as outcomes in the meta-analysis, and neither were serious AEs.”
        In other words, this research only considered short-term, mild, common AEs – headache, fatigue, discomfort at injection site and the like. Not long-term, severe, or more uncommon AEs such as one would report to VAERS.

        Arguably, the most important data from this report may be: “The random-effects pooled proportion of placebo recipients reporting at least 1 systemic AE after the first dose was 35.2% (95% CI, 26.7%-43.7%); 16.2% (95% CI, 11.3%-21.1%) reported at least 1 local AE (Table 2). In comparison, patients treated with vaccines reported higher AE rates, with 46.3% (95% CI, 38.2%-54.3%) reporting at least 1 systemic AE and 66.7% (95% CI, 53.2%-80.3%) reporting at least 1 local AE.”
        In other words, people who actually got the vaccine were far more likely to experience AEs.

  4. wakeupthyme

    I was so happy to read this article today. Not because of the horrible experiences those vaccinees went through, but that you have given coverage to many people who are suffering from the news blackout of anything but positive vaccine coverage.

    People are being denied a balanced understanding of what is truly going on in the name of public health. I am not against vaccinations but vaccinations are only one aspect of healthcare. Prevention and treatment of disease, building up ones immune system, eliminating co-morbidities are all part of being well. But all we hear from our local and national health officials is vaccine 24/7. Over 80,000 virologists, immunoligists and epidemeolgists signed the Great Barrington Declaration criticizing our healthcare spokespeople for refusing to provide a clear understanding of covid and how best to approach it. I highly recommend that people read it: https://gbdeclaration.org/

    It should also be stated clearly and often that taking a vaccination is a personal decision but there is absolutely no scientific evidence that the covid vaccine prevents transmission of the disease. The scientific journals and the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna have said likewise. But most importantly, lose the baby fat, take Vitaimin D and Zinc and eat clean food. And know that Big Pharma is big business. It will be years until we know the real data of how many have been harmed by this vaccine. Healthcare is never one size fits all, which is why I’ve been disgusted by health coverage of this pandemic for years. Thanks MountainX for getting this important information out there.

    • NFB

      “from the news blackout of anything but positive vaccine coverage.”

      Blackout? What blackout?

      Everywhere you look there is coverage of anti-vaxxers. There is even an entire news network devoted to prime time host after prime time host railing against them. There is constant news coverage of anti-vaxxers pushing “alternative” treatments like anti-worming medication meant for horses.

      There is no “blackout” on anti-vaxxer sentiment in the news. Not even close to one.

      • wakeupthyme

        Not everyone who questions mainstream othodoxy is an anti-vaxxer, a Trump supporter or a conspiracy theorist. Anymore than those who spend hours staring at mainstream media like a zombie staring at a lollipop thinking its the word of God are all brain-washed unthinking Pfizer zealots. The world isn’t black and white. Nor is science. Science is ever evolving, otherwise we’d still be drilling into our skull everytime we had a headache. The issue here is that some of us who are still thinking people have reviewed scientific literature and statements from esteemed medical experts who disagree that Fauci and company are not the only approach to a pandemic. And there is growing concern that this vaccine is causing a world of pain for thousands if not millions. And that there are other reasonable, science-based preventions and treatments that the mainstream media has intentionally ignored in an effort to get everyone vaccinated.

        By the way, rather then repeating scare tactics about Ivermectin, you might consider actually reading about the success of the use of this drug which researchers have shown blocks the spike protein from getting into cells, thereby preventing or lessening disease. It likely saved my life as well as my wife’s, (She’s a nurse in a local hospital, fully vaccinated.) If you want to read about what frontline covid clinicians are doing, see this site: https://covid19criticalcare.com/

  5. Amy Gordon

    This response of pretending that the vaccine has no connection to the adverse events is nothing new. Since 1986, when the childhood vaccine schedule started a huge ramp up as liability was essentially lifted from vaccine manufacturers, countless parents witnessed terrible damage to their children. When they started to ask about the possibility that the vaccines received hours before had anything to do with the seizures/loss of bodily function/regressive behavior and other adverse events, they were dismissed, gaslighted and often dropped from the pediatric practice Friends and family turned their backs on you. For the terrible sin of questioning vaccines.

  6. Bright

    Thank you, Xpress! The medical community/big pharmaceutical have earned the distrust the have received. So damn sad…

  7. Ahuman

    Thank you, Niko Kyriakou and MountainX, for addressing this very real and important issue. Notwithstanding other ongoing problems with public messaging from our government and media, the denial and dismissal of these adverse vaccine events is particularly egregious. Previous commenters have hit upon the culture of gaslighting (for example, see comment from Lars Larson Clark above), ostracizing, and canceling those who ask questions and relate experiences with regard to Covid vaccines. As someone whose close family member (21 y.o. male) experienced myocarditis as a direct result of his 2nd Pfizer shot in September, I can personally attest to the difficulty in being taken seriously and in reporting to VAERS. More importantly is the concern over outcomes due to chronic myocarditis in a beloved family member, otherwise fit and healthy. Please continue to follow this story and keep our community informed, and again, thank you.

  8. Sharon

    When my husband and I received our Phizer shots at UNCA we were given a paper that gave you directions about signing up for self reporting any side effects from the vaccine. I entered the information into my cell phone my husband did not. I was contacted by VAERS several times to check and see how the shot had effected me. Because I was already signed up they checked on me after I received my second shot also for several months. Thankfully both my husband and I had no side effects other than a sore arm. People need to take responsibility for themselves had everyone who received that paper signed up instead of throwing the paper away we would have a better understanding of the side effects of the vaccines. Our medical system is overwhelmed we should all be doing what we can to help it. If that means signing up to report symptoms yourself than do it. Don’t expect mommy to do it for you. What is lacking in this article is the fact that even though some people may experience serious side effects more lives have been saved because of the vaccines than would have been saved had they not been developed.

  9. Ada Khoury MD

    I am a practicing physician of western medicine who advocates for the use of properly tested traditional vaccines, made from dead or attenuated natural viral particles, as vaccines have been made since 1796. Synovac, the chinese vaccine for Covid, released in February of 2021, is a traditional vaccine that has now been administered to all Chinese citizens, as well as the citizens of many developing countries to whom China donated vaccines. However, the “vaccines” for Covid made available in the U.S. are not traditional vaccines. They are immune-enhancing mRNA gene-therapy products, made with new technology, still lacking in long term safety data in human, or even animal, subjects.

    From my personal observations so far, these products appear to be having a fairly high rate of mostly mild, short-lived acute adverse reactions, similar to those seen with traditional vaccines. However there seems to be a much lower, but significant, rate of more serious possible adverse reactions, lasting for much longer. And ones not usually seen with traditional vaccines.

    I know three people who have had strokes within a week of injection. I have seen three cases of moderate to severe vertigo, often with tinnitus, lasting for months and occuring within a week of injection. I have seen two people who have developed strange rashes, that have become chronic, shortly after receiving an injection. None of these people seem to be hysterical nor malingering . The number of these reports seem greater than in the past, prior to the introduction of covid vaccines.

    These are purely anecdotal observations from which no definitive conclusions can, nor should, be made. All of these cases may be coincidences completely unrelated to recieving the injections. That is what the medical establishment is leading physicians to believe. And it subtly (and not so subtly at times) discourages us from acknowledging that someone’s symptoms might even possibly be related to the injections. Every practicing physician in America recieved an email in Sept of 2021 from the Federation of State Medical Boards delivering a stern warning that any one of us could lose our medical license if we offered information or opinions that differed from the recommendations being made by our government public health agencies. As doing so could be judged as spreading dangerous disinformation and would not be tolerated because it might interfere with he success of our government’s public health mass vaccination campaign.

    Fortunately, Sars-CoV2 appears to be mutating to produce a much less virulent disease. And fortunately, the vast majority of the American population, both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, will have contracted and recovered from Covid infection by the end of this winter,
    therefore we will almost certainly achieve natural herd immunity very soon which should end the pandemic. For these reasons, it seems logical that a re-evaluation of the risks vs benefits… of both initial vaccination, as well as the use of continued “boosters”…should now be made on a case by case basis.

  10. AVL LUV

    I am so proud of Mountain Xpress for having the courage to publish this article. We need to listen to our neighbors, friends, family, and community. Many people have had negative health issues after receiving the vaccinations, and they have been bullied into silence. Regardless if the vaccination did or did not cause the injury we need to listen to them, and take their concerns seriously. If you are too indoctrinated to to be open minded and listen to people in your own community you should be ashamed of yourself.

  11. Ada Khoury MD

    I am a practicing physician in Asheville who advocates for most vaccination because they can be invaluable tools for protecting people’s health when, like all things in medicine, they are used appropriately.
    I thank Mr. Kyriakou and the Mountain XPress for publishing this article about Pfizer and Moderna’s new, investigational immune-enhancing gene therapy products available in America to protect against Covid infections. As the article mentions, calling these products “vaccines” is somewhat of a misnomer. They are very different from traditional vaccines in how they have been made, since 1798, from inactivated or attenuated naturally occuring, cultured, whole virus to which a natural immune response is mounted.
    Synovac, the vaccine that China created and placed on the market in February of 2021 is a traditional vaccine and is what Chinese citizens, and many citizens in developing countries to whom china donated its vaccines, have received. However, no traditional vaccine was made available in the U.S. And the inconvenient truth is that no one knows what the long term sequelae to the health of those who have received these new products will be. The usual long term studies needed to determine this were not done on them.

    Almost all information and discussion of covid “vaccine” adverse events has been banned from public discourse in our society for the last year , as policy, in order to not increase “vaccine hesitancy” in the public. Those in authority believed tthat achieving the goal of mass vaccination justified means never before accepted in our society. Ones that ttook away informed consent. Themainstream media and Big Tech social media platforms were recruited by our government officials to collude in the censorship, discrediting of and the banning of almost all discussion and sharing of information about risks associated with these new products. And every physician in America recieved an email in early September of 2021 from the Federation Of State Medical Boards warning/threatening each of us that we would have our licenses to practice revoked if members of our medical board deemed that we were “spreading dangerous disinformation” about the pandemic or the “vaccines”. This was effectively an unprecedented “gag order” to discourage physicians from sharing any information, or offering their own clinical opinions about your personal healthcare, that differed from the rinformation, ercommendations and treatment guidelines created by the CDC and other federal public health bureaucratic agencies.

    Unfortunately, this policy of censorship implemented by these authorities has likely had the opposite effect of it’s intended purpose. Refusing to give Americans citizens the transparency they deserve and by aggressively silencing and banning any voices or information that questions or differs from the government’s narrative, has predictably made many people suspicious of what is being hidden from them…and why. Without access to the complete and accurate information upon which to make their decision, many have opted to avoid the products …to risk the Covid “devil that they know” rather one that they do not.
    This aappears to have been one of many mistakes made by our government’s response to the pandemic leading to poor outcomest

  12. Person Place and Thing

    I am really glad to see this article, and applaud the Mtn X for allowing this information to be seen and discussed. I understand that people have a lot of strong feelings about vaccine safety, correlation and causation, and the health care choices they feel others should make. Over and over I see people discard information or experiences that dont confrom to the story that these vaccines are safe and healthy. Peoples individual stories are discarded as anecdotal. You know what else was anecdotal? Cancer caused by Roundup and Asbestos, long term health care challenges for 9/11 first responders. And the one avenue that exists to actually track and verify these events (VAERS) is now also not valid? Because any licensed physician can enter data? Let me see if I can get this straight: we dont trust peoples own experiences, shared by millions of Americans, not just one here and there. We dont trust government regulated reporting portals for adverse events, which show exponential upticks in reported events since covid vaccine rollout (link below), because it is, what, somehow a hugely organized conspiracy by licensed doctors to demonize and unfairly misalign a vaccination campaign, to some unknown end, apparently?. And we trust without question for profit pharma corporations with long marked histories of lost lawsuits over data tampering, bribery and other wonderful things, who 134% more in 2021 than 2020, with major polical sway due to advertising and lobbying efforts. The strangest thing to me in all this is my staunch liberal democrat friends who prior to the pandemic would rail to no end about how untrustworthy big pharma and for profit healthcare is, and how entrenched it is in health care policy. And somehow now, that industry is not only spotlessly clean and altruistic, but also beyond questioning to any degree, lest you be called a conspiracy theorist. As a former marketing person, I have to applaud the incredible job theyve done on the american people, screwing us over for profit and making us argue with one another instead of holding even a shred of accountability.


  13. Jordan Foltz

    This takes courage, Niko and Xpress. Never has there been such a superstitious and authoritarian orthodoxy as the unilateral prohibition of critique on these “vaccines”. Bullies will bully—but the truth is rarely fashionable. God bless.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      ‘Truth is fiction in the Empire of Lies’ … Dr. Ron Paul.

  14. D Hurley

    It’s not hard to follow the narrative. First it was no masks needed, then 1, then 2 (numbers kept rising). Then get the vaccine and be protected from getting Covid and no longer wear a mask. People raced out to get the vaccine. A short while later – wear masks again and oh yea… the vaccine won’t keep you from getting Covid, so get another, and another. Then ships full of vaccinated people get Covid and it’s apparent that the vaccine doesn’t work to protect against so they change the narrative to it lessens the effects of Covid. Many many many people have gotten Covid and survived just fine. As a matter of fact, the recovery rate is about 98%. This whole thing has been a disaster. Now there are millions of people running around with a very new technology introduced into humans. No long-term studies. No studies on pregnant women. No studies on how it affects children’s development. For what? To “lessen” the effects of a virus that has a 98% recovery rate? It wouldn’t be that bad if people had options, but they didn’t. If you didn’t get vaccinated you didn’t get to work. Many people were fired. From this whole ordeal, we have become further divided. People don’t trust one another. People have less trust in our governments, This has been one giant nightmare at all of our expenses.

    Thanks for writing a well thought out article and challenging the main stream narrative that has blind sided so many.

  15. Timothy Birthisel

    I was disappointed to learn of the basis for feelings of distrust of our public health and pharma institutions. I think part of the doubting by medical professionals is the fundamental understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of the vaccines, coupled with the understood phenomenon of “nocebo” (psychosomatic) problems that can affect our complex mind/body relationships in negative ways, sometimes triggering latent physical problems like strokes that were lurking prior to the triggering event. Nevertheless, all of the medical professionals and technicians who oversee vaccinations need to duly report any negative reactions and let the medical statisticians sort out what;s really going on. It is sad that so many distrust science today, it is for certain a very useful tool for our future survival, along with a faith that supports morality that can drive our best behaviors.

  16. Lou

    It is so sad but not surprising to see the number of commenters who immediately jump to Freedumb! Big Brother! Population Control! Discrimination! Civil Rights! REALLY? Where were you absolute useless people when a six year old black kid was arrested for picking a flower? IN NC?? How about all those Trump flags 2020 still flying? That YOU? This town is so full of ignorant reactive backsliding christians that y’all can’t see facts for your ignorance. I feel sorry for you and your kids and their kids because they will have to claim you as ancestry. Read a science book. Lastly STAY AWAY FROM US. You are the enemy within.

  17. Ann

    Thanks for the article!
    I’m pro-vaccine and I personally think that covid vaccines did more good than harm during this pandemic. But I wish there were more coverage and research on their side-effects, because people who get these side effects sometimes feel helpless and abandoned.
    For example, I see a wave of Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria (hives, itching, dermatographia, etc.) cases after the booster shots, and I have it as well. There are over 4700 members with this diagnosis in the Facebook support group. It lasts for weeks and months, there is no real treatment (just antihistamines to deal with the symptoms), the timeline is still undefined (in the beginning I was told it would last 6 weeks; now I hear that it probably may go away after 16 weeks). Some people with severe cases have to go to the ER, some can’t work. And barely any mention of this side effect in mass media. Bummer…

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