The Greater Good (film)

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The Greater Good
Directed by Kendall Nelson, Chris Pilaro
Produced by Leslie Manookian Bradshaw
Written by Leslie Manookian Bradshaw, Jack Youngelson
Starring Gabi Swank, Jordan King, and the Christeners[1]
Music by Stephen Thomas Cavit
BNP Pictures
Release date
  • April 2, 2011 (2011-04-02) (Dallas Film Festival)
  • October 14, 2011 (2011-10-14)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Greater Good is a controversial film about vaccines.[2] It debuted at the Dallas International Film Festival on April 2, 2011,[3] and began playing in Los Angeles, California on October 14, 2011.[4] Well-known vaccine experts who appear in the film include Paul Offit, Melinda Wharton, and Norman Baylor of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. The film was endorsed by controversial doctor Joseph Mercola on his website, as part of "Vaccine Awareness Week", a joint venture with the anti-vaccine organization National Vaccine Information Center.[5]


The film covers three stories which are said to be examples of vaccine harm:

  • Gabi Swank of Wichita, Kansas, who received a HPV vaccine and attributes a number of adverse reactions, including a seizure, to this vaccine,
  • Jordan King of Portland, Oregon, who was said to have regressed into autism following routine vaccination, and was one of the test cases for the autism omnibus proceedings, a case which was rejected by the Special Master, and
  • Victoria Grace Boyd Christener of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who died at the age of 5 months after receiving her childhood vaccines.

According to the film's website, the following mix of 'leading authorities in vaccines and vaccine safety' and those who 'ask probing questions about regulation and administration' are featured in the film.[6]

Scientific validity[edit]

The conjecture presented in the movie that vaccines might cause autism is contradicted by all existing scientific evidence on the subject.[7]

As of August 20, 2009, the FDA has not found a connection between Gardasil (an HPV vaccine) and seizures.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

The New York Times criticized the movie, calling it "emotionally manipulative," and "heavily partial."[9]

Variety's John Anderson reviewed the film, saying that it is "swimming in ethical contradictions." Anderson also stated, with regard to the film's potential bias, "Admittedly, it would have been difficult for the filmmakers to show the other side of those scenes; how do you focus on subjects who haven’t died from smallpox, diphtheria or pertussis because they were immunized as children? But that would require an approach that doesn’t take advantage of the audience’s emotions."[10]

David Gorski criticized the movie in a blog post,[11] lamenting that the film "which could have been a provocative debate about current vaccine policy based on asking which vaccines are necessary and why, in the end opts to be nothing more than pure anti-vaccine propaganda of the lowest and most vile sort."[5]

Gary Goldstein described the film as "provocative" and "an effective eye-opener."[12]

LA Weekly's Veronika Fredman wrote that "Though there are pro-vaccine interviewees, this film has a clear agenda in encouraging skepticism toward vaccination."[13]


The Greater Good won awards from the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival[14] as well as the cinematic vision award at the Amsterdam Film Festival.[15]