The following citation is an extract from ‘The Greater Good’ press release, the link of which appears at the end of the extract.
THE GREATER GOOD looks behind the fear, hype and politics that have polarized the vaccine debate in America today. The film re-frames the emotionally charged issue and offers, for the first time, the opportunity for a rational and scientific discussion on how to create a safer and more effective vaccine program.
Our society has reached a crossroads on vaccines. Americans are asking questions about safety but are confused about where to turn for answers. Government agencies are charged with implementing sound policies that will keep vaccination rates high and disease rates low. But to accomplish this noble goal, does the government go too far in shielding the public from possible side effects?
THE GREATER GOOD explores this pressing question and sheds light on an issue that is already on the minds of expecting mothers and fathers, grandparents, doctors and healthcare professionals across the country. Human stories of families forever changed by their vaccine choices engage audiences while vaccine experts help refocus the discussion of vaccine safety within a troubled system.
For many prospective parents, the months leading up to their child’s birth are a mixture of excited anticipation and worry about the decision they know they’ll be pressured to make within hours of being blessed with a full-term healthy baby.Vaccinate?
THE GREATER GOOD explores the cultural unwillingness to grapple with this question, the limited avenues parents have to pursue answers and the consequences they face for saying "yes,” "no” or simply asking the question at all.The public debate on vaccination is deeply polarized, aided by a media that peddles fear and reduces the issue to over-protective mothers battling against well-meaning, white-coated doctors. This sensationalized debate distracts everyone from the legitimate scientific issues of vaccine safety.
On the "Need-To-Know-More,” vaccine-awareness side: parent-activists whose children have suffered devastating vaccine side effects are joined by doctors and scientists who have concerns about vaccine safety and ask for more research.
On the "Can-Do-No-Harm,” pro-vaccine side: doctors and public health officials who believe the negative side effects from vaccines are extraordinarily rare, that vaccines have saved countless lives, eradicated diseases and are necessary for the greater good. American children are now the most vaccinated population on the planet.
One would think they would also be the healthiest, but consider these alarming statistics: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 children has a learning disability or behavioral problem, 1 in 9 children is asthmatic, 1 in 110 children suffers from autism and 1 in 450 is diabetic.
THE GREATER GOOD is a character-driven documentary that explores the areas where parenting, modern medicine and states’ rights clash with politics, groupthink and Big Pharma. The film offers parents, doctors and policy-makers a safe space to actively listen to and learn from one another. Mixing verité footage, intimate interviews, 1950s-era government-produced movies and up-to-date TV news reporting, THE GREATER GOOD weaves together the stories of families whose lives have been forever changed by vaccination.
The Schrags/Swanks are a middle-American family from Wichita, Kansas, caught in the crossfire generated by Merck’s new cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil. After she saw a "be-one-less” Gardasil ad on MTV, Gabi Swank, a healthy, 15-year-old honor student, told her mom, Shannon, that she wanted the vaccine to ensure that she wouldn’t become a victim of cervical cancer. At the doctor’s office, Shannon wasn’t warned of any possible side effects, but within hours of the shot Gabi started to feel them. We accompany mother and daughter to the neurologist who confirms a diagnosis of vaccine injury. We follow along as Gabi’s new life unfolds, unable to attend school most days and embarrassed by her wheelchair when she does. We attempt to join her at the homecoming dance where she was voted sophomore princess, but watch as a seizure ruins those plans and sends her to the hospital instead.
The King family from Portland, Oregon, struggles with the challenges of raising their 12-year-old son Jordan, who regressed into autism after routine vaccination. Fred and MyLinda recall the promise life held for Jordan while Maya, their gifted 10-year-old daughter, is a constant reminder of what Jordan should have been. Fred, 58, and MyLinda, 48, both worry about Jordan’s future. Will there be a place for him after they are gone? Will his younger sister Maya bear the burden? How will society deal with this growing epidemic?
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dr. Stephanie Christner had never questioned the safety of vaccines. In medical school she learned they were totally safe and were essential to the health of her children and all other children. But on her journey to find answers, she was shocked to learn that studies documenting vaccine injuries have been published in major medical journals for a century. She wonders what else she might have missed before her daughter died at 5 months of age.
Beginning with the introduction of the small pox vaccine in 1796, parents and medical doctors alike questioned the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Today, the media spends a great deal of time covering vaccine issues, but the public remains uninformed and grasping for some absolute scientific truth. A recent University of Michigan poll found that vaccine safety is the number one concern of American parents. Given that Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, instructed the media to not cover those who raise questions about vaccine safety can Americans trust the media is presenting the whole story?
In 1986, Congress passed the National Vaccine Injury Act, which recognizes that vaccines can injure and kill. The law serves to compensate victims, but medical authorities still proclaim the absolute safety of vaccines. So who is right? Do vaccines save lives or are they dangerous and ineffective? Is there more to the story than the media, health authorities and doctors admit?
In 1980, American children received 23 doses of 7 vaccines; today children who follow the CDC recommended schedule receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines. To some this is a disturbing development constituting an assault on young immune systems. Others see laudable advances in modern medicine.
The ingredients in some vaccines include mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, cells from animal organs and tissues, cells from aborted fetal tissue, antibiotics, and diseases. Some argue that trace amounts of these ingredients are harmless while others insist they are not only potentially harmful but that they cause many of the chronic illnesses we see today.
While the scientific community continues its research, people are judged harshly for their beliefs, choices and questions. Some parents whose children have been injured by vaccines have angrily threatened vaccine-proponents. Parents who choose not to vaccinate are accused of child medical neglect. Some medical professionals are reluctant to question vaccines, wary of retribution from medical authorities and licensing groups.
The controversy is not a uniquely American phenomenon. Many industrialized nations have banned certain vaccines following serious adverse reactions and death. The French government has been sued over some vaccines; children in India are still contracting polio despite receiving numerous polio inoculations; Australian children are having febrile seizures after the fl u shot, and there are frequent reports of death and other adverse reactions to vaccines in children all over the developing world.
In this environment of controversy and confusion, a few health authorities have spoken out. Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health in the UK, publicly stated that he had seen a "steady accumulation of evidence” from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is causing brain damage in certain children. But he added: "There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.”
In 2008, Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, revealed that the Institute of Medicine directed researchers to not search for susceptible groups to vaccines in 2004 despite research in lab animals showing cause for concern. In a nation that prides itself on scientific study and integrity THE GREATER GOOD asks, ‘How is this possible?’
While there have been other documentaries made on the subject, they are generally one-sided, not well known and they have been made for a limited audience, either pro- or anti-vaccine. As a result, these films have not had credibility nor have they gained access to a mass audience or the leading decision and policy makers today. Our commitment to investigative and balanced storytelling has allowed us to gain access that no other filmmakers have.
The retired developer of the rubella vaccine, Dr. Stanley Plotkin, granted us his first interview in years.
Dr. Melinda Wharton, Deputy Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases ((NCIRD) (formerly the National Immunization Program (NIP)) at the CDC, and Dr. Norman Baylor, Director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review in the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, also took time to explain their policies and share their perspectives.
Barbara Loe Fisher, the co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) as granted many interviews, but had never let filmmakers into her life, home, and family. We are breaking new ground by delivering these policy-makers and thought-shapers to the public as never before.
Few issues are more controversial, more hotly debated or more divisive than vaccines. As new parents, we wanted to dig deep into this complex and polarizing issue so that we could learn firsthand what experts believe, share that information with the public, and open the hearts and minds of viewers to the fact that vaccine injuries do occur. Our goal is to create a rational discussion on the subject of vaccine safety and to help ensure a safer and more effective vaccine program in America today.
The topic of vaccinations is right up there with religion and politics as something "not to discuss around the Thanksgiving table.”
THE GREATER GOOD aims to change that paradigm. The film looks at the issue through a new lens, taking a step back to see the bigger picture. We present the issue with all of its complexities and nuances and hope to create a safe space by bringing the rational back to the discussion of vaccinations. We hope the film will serve as a resource for parents, physicians and other concerned target audiences to support a national dialogue on vaccines and vaccine safety.
Here is the link to the web site: