Source: William Sullivan

There must be a lot of money to be made in peddling medical treatments and prescription drugs to Americans, or else there’d be no way the advertisements pitching these treatments and drugs to the public could be so plentiful.  But you may have noticed a feature of those ads that is conspicuously absent in the public pitch for COVID-19 vaccines.

Let’s consider that commercial (or any of the hundreds exactly like it) entreating you to get vaxxed as a means to “get back to life,” showing happy images of travel passports, college, family meals, and visiting grandparents.  But, we’re assured, “it’s okay to have questions,” like “how were the vaccines tested?” and “why should I get vaccinated?” 

How were they tested?  “In rigorous clinical trials among adults of diverse backgrounds,” we’re assured.  Oh, well that’s a relief. 

Why should I get vaccinated?  Because “protecting yourself also helps protect the people around you.”  You don’t say?  Hadn’t heard that.

“Back to life?” the commercial ends.  “It’s up to you.”

There are two things that the average American might notice here. 

The first is that this commercial, just like every COVID vaccine pitch ever created, treats us, the skeptical-yet-potential consumer, like a child being persuaded by a desperate parent to believe that Santa really showed up on Christmas Eve.  “I saw him on the Santa Tracker app.  Honest!”

The second is the absence of all that fine-print disclosure that commonly appears at the bottom of most American drug commercials, accompanied by a swift recitation of those horrifying potential side effects in a pleasant voice.  And curiously, after not being reminded that there are potential side effects to the COVID vaccines or what those side effects are, we’re also not reminded that we should talk to our doctor before “deciding” to take this new drug.

As it turns out, there’s a reason that all those American drug manufacturers and their pitchmen have always put all those uncomfortable disclosures in their commercials, and it’s not because they’re really bad salespeople or because they love being the subject of countless parodies for presenting side effects that are often worse than the cure they promise.

Nope.  It’s thanks, in part, to this little nuisance of a concept called “informed consent.”

“Informed consent to medical treatment,” according to the American Medical Association, “is fundamental to both ethics and law.  Patients have a right to receive information and ask questions about recommended treatments so that they can make well-considered decisions about care.”

Pharmaceutical companies peddling their wares in America, almost uniquely in the global context, are able to market prescription drugs directly to potential patients.  Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeks to keep the drug peddlers honest, believing this to be part of the process by which potential patients are informed, and therefore requiring them to present the negative effects of any medical treatment alongside potential benefits.

The other reason is personal injury lawyers, who will scour every advertisement a drug company puts out to find a client that experiences some negative impact as a result of an undisclosed side effect, but that’s another story.

In sum, that appears to be why COVID vaccine commercials don’t include side effects to inform the public about any potentially negative side effects.  It’s a loophole.  They don’t disclose the details because they’re not marketing a specific brand of the product to the public.  It’s just a public service announcement that (coincidentally, I’m sure) does what the pitchmen of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, or Moderna couldn’t legally do as a matter of consumer protection — and that is pitch their products by promising all of that vague upside without presenting any of the potentially negative side effects. 

So, the advertisements for the COVID vaccine are neither informative nor balanced, despite being presented as such.  And even more sinister than that, they seem to offer the false proposition of our being given a choice in taking the jab.

It’s not a very convincing pretense, to be fair.  Even the language in the commercials amounts to a thinly-veiled threat that noncompliance will be punished.  You can’t get “back to life” unless you get the shot, it unapologetically presumes. 

But it’s presented as if any of this might be a matter of personal choice.  “It’s okay to have questions,” we’re told.  It’s just not okay to reach any conclusion that involves a decision to not take the jab for any reason.  You’re free to have reservations about it, of course, so long as those reservations eventually (and hopefully soon, the rest of society is counting on you!) become assuaged by the soothing, vague bromides that have been provided by the product manufacturers and their pitchmen.

This, like the masks, and like stupid the distancing rituals we became accustomed to last year, is just theater. 

When you sit for the jab, the nurse will likely give you seven pages of warnings and disclosures.  Maybe, if she’s really honest, as one happened to be while giving my brother-in-law the shot, she’ll tell you that this list of disclosures is about six pages longer than the typical set of disclosures that accompanies a “normal” vaccine.

Sure, you could put on your readers and glance at all those warnings and disclosures for a few minutes as if the information therein might affect your decision to let that nurse plunge the contents of that syringe in your arm, but that’s just theater, too.  There’s nothing in there that’s changing your mind.  The nurse knows you’re going to let her do it, just as you likely know, as he did, that you may not have a job next month if you don’t.

Over the threat of COVID, and in spite of this virus being miraculously undeadly to children and most healthy individuals while only threatening a fairly specific demographic in society at any significant level, the government took away our right to go to church, our right to conduct commerce in our communities, our children’s right to the education for which we overpay, and even our ability to smile at one another when we pass each other in the grocery store. 

If you work for the government, do you think, even for a moment, that the same government that did all of that to you would not now do everything within, and even beyond, its newfound power to force you to take these vaccines as a condition of employment? 

If you work in the private sector, are you so naïve as to think that this coercion may not be imminently coming for you, in the form of corporate leviathans doing the bidding of the government with whom it now openly shares a bed in order to force you, at all costs, to unwillingly plunge into your arm the drugs that our government has already bought from these drug companies?

They’re not interested in our consent and are deeply interested in limiting our access to information.  There is no “informed consent” involved here. 

It’s just tyranny.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Photo credit: US Secretary of Defense CC BY 2.0 license

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