Friday Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom Act, prohibiting private employers across the state from mandating the COVID shots. Personally, this was as providential as it could get – exactly two years ago to the day, the first hospital in the country to mandate the shots for its employers, Houston Methodist hospital, retaliated against me for speaking out against mandates, launching a PR campaign against me that has changed my life forever. I’ve fought back hard, and though it doesn’t help all the people already harmed by the mandates, the passage of this law is vindication that I was right to speak out.
Below is an article I wrote on how mandates violate medical ethics, published in the summer 2023 edition of Renegade Health Magazine.
Coercion Is Not Consent
On March 31, 2021, Houston Methodist Hospital made history by becoming the first health system in the US to implement mandatory COVID vaccination for its employees. According to their CEO Dr. Marc Boom, “I think patients should be demanding this at all hospitals, and frankly, I think you will see the floodgates begin to open at hospitals. We’ve seen a whole bunch of hospitals follow suit. It took a couple months, but they’ve been following suit. And I think you’re going to see many, many more.” As he predicted, many more hospitals followed their lead – a conservative estimate is at least 174 health systems mandated COVID vaccines for their employees following Methodist’s actions.
Five months later, the government followed suit; on August 24, 2021, the Secretary of Defense ordered that all military personnel must receive the COVID vaccine. A month later, OSHA required employers with 100+ employees to mandate COVID vaccinations, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandated COVID vaccinations for all workers in health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.
The education system folded next. In November 2021, Rutgers University became the first college to mandate the vaccine for its students, and the majority of colleges followed their lead. Today, around 800 colleges still require their students to receive the COVID vaccine.
Lawsuits ensued; though some have succeeded, we still have students, healthcare workers and employees being coerced into receiving an experimental drug, still in Phase II (long-term) testing. The OSHA mandate was eventually reversed, but the Supreme Court upheld the mandate for healthcare workers. When the government ended the public health emergency on May 11, 2023, the mandate for healthcare workers ended as well. Some hospitals, like Houston Methodist, have chosen to keep the mandate even though our government has moved on.
As a physician with privileges, I was ordered by Houston Methodist Hospital to get the vaccine. Skeptical of the rushed timeline, I studied the data available on the Pfizer trials. Post injection, subject testing was up to the clinician rather than performed systematically; this was the red flag that kept me from going forward. I had also been using monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID patients – with access to safe and effective treatment, I decided to wait on getting the vaccine until more safety and outcomes data was available.
My clinic in Houston became a busy testing center because we offered a non-invasive saliva test for COVID with a quick turn-around time. When the vaccine rolled out in January 2021, I started tracking test results according to vaccination status. That summer, Houston saw a surge in COVID cases, and from our test results, I quickly realized the vaccine wasn’t working. In July, I posted this on Instagram: “We are seeing a huge upswing in positive cases, and unfortunately more than half of our positive cases are in people who have been fully vaccinated. The majority of these people also have symptoms.” While vaccine breakthroughs were happening, I saw the power of early treatment (to date, all of my patients who received early treatment – over 5500 – are alive.) With time, I began to see patients with chronic and debilitating health problems following the vaccine; sadly I now see several patients a week with vaccine injuries. Backed by first-hand experience, I decided to forgo getting the vaccine and became more outspoken about its poor efficacy and potential risks.
Informed Consent: No Medical Procedure Should Ever Be Mandated
As a surgeon, I’m sensitive to the importance of informed consent and even published a paper on the subject during residency. All medical treatments involve risk, and a universally understood tenet is that patients should never be persuaded or coerced to undergo any treatment that involves risk.
Historically, physicians have held a paternalistic view towards their patients, but several court decisions have upheld the fact that informed consent and bodily autonomy are fundamental human rights. “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body…” In 1914, Benjamin Cardozo, a judge in the New York Court of Appeals and later an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, was the first to hand down a decision that formulated the principles underpinning the consent model for undertaking medical procedures. Despite legal precedents, ethical standards and common sense, physicians in the last 3 years followed practices that blatantly contradict these principles – one cannot reconcile vaccine mandates with respecting patient autonomy.
True informed consent requires transparency, with discussion of the risks, benefits, alternatives and unknowns. When the COVID vaccine came out, the ‘unknowns’ were paramount. The vaccine package inserts are blank, and 10 year safety data is absent. Yet patients did not have informed consent discussions with their physicians or pharmacists prior to getting the vaccine.
Ideally, informed consent for the COVID vaccine should have read something like this:
“This is an experimental drug. Since it is still in Phase II testing (the first long term testing phase), I cannot provide a risk-benefit analysis; we do not know the long term effects the COVID vaccine might cause. Death is a risk. No one can force you to take this vaccine, the choice is yours (or in the case of minor children, the choice is their parents). COVID survival rates vary according to age and co-morbidities; survival rates are over 99.4% for most people. Early treatment with monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine and other medications is an alternative. Pfizer studies showed an absolute risk reduction in contracting COVID of 0.84% after receiving the vaccine. Pfizer did not study prevention of transmission, hospitalization or death, severity of breakthrough infection, or long term safety data. Manufacturers will not beheld liable if you suffer a complication after taking this vaccine.”
I’ve performed thousands of surgeries, and I’ve never bounded into the operating room without discussing potential complications – to do so would be blatant malpractice. I’ve never performed an experimental surgery, lacking long-term outcomes data, but if were to do so, I would feel ethically bound to discuss the potential risks and be particularly forthright about the unknowns. And if I were going to perform an experimental operation on a healthy person in order to potentially save another person’s life, the risks of that operation would have to be exceedingly low – and the benefits exceedingly high – to uphold my oath to “First do no harm.” Finally, not once have I told a patient, “If you don’t let me do this surgery on you, you will lose your job… or be denied an education… or be discharged from the military.”
Post WWII, hard to imagine medical coercion to this degree could happen. The COVID pandemic unleashed the greatest crimes against humanity we’ve ever seen; the pandemic is over, but before moving on, we must process what has happened and hold the perpetrators accountable.