At his funeral, Ernesto Ramirez Jr. wore a light blue suit and the eyeglasses he had worn in so many photographs he’d taken with friends and family during his young life.
The 16 year-old was laid to rest in April when he became one of the hundreds of thousands of Americans claimed by unnatural death during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving his family in shock.
Ernesto’s father looked down on his child one final time that spring day. Wearing a blue button-down shirt, he said farewell to his son, who lay in a casket adorned with a crucifix.
“My good byes to my Baby Boy,” a grieving Ernest Ramirez said in a recent tweet of those final moments.
My good byes to my Baby Boy 💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/TQsbhG3aqp— Ernest Ramirez (@rgvrunner01) September 14, 2021
Ernesto Ramirez Jr. was one of hundreds of American children taken too early during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only, his life wasn’t claimed by COVID-19.
His father and media reports say Ernesto died five days after taking a vaccine that was supposed to protect him.
‘We Clearly Have an Imbalance’
Two months after Ernesto’s death, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that atypical levels of heart inflammation had been observed in some patients following COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in young men receiving a second dose of a mRNA vaccine.
Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, deputy director of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office, told an FDA advisory group that 226 cases of myocarditis (or pericarditis) had been confirmed in people younger than 30 who had taken the vaccine.
“Normally, fewer than 100 cases would be expected for this age group,” NBC News reported at the time, adding that further investigation was necessary to confirm whether heart problems stemmed from the vaccines.
Particularly noteworthy was the fact that, according to the CDC, teens and people in their early twenties represented more than half of the myocarditis cases the CDC found—even though this age group represented a tiny portion of those who received shots.
"We clearly have an imbalance there," Shimabukuro said in his presentation.
These concerns, however, were not serious enough to prompt the government to halt the vaccine for children.
New CDC data show nearly half of all US adolescents are now vaccinated. A recent CNN analysis of government data shows roughly 46 percent of children ages 12-17 have received the vaccine, while some 14 million adolescents have had at least one shot.
Meanwhile, Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Monday their intention to deliver the vaccine to younger children following successful clinical trials that involved more than 2,200 kids ages 5 to 11.
"In participants 5 to 11 years of age, the vaccine was safe, well-tolerated and showed robust neutralizing antibody responses," Pfizer and BioNTech said in a news release, noting they will submit a request for emergency use authorization.
COVID vaccines may very well be effective at neutralizing COVID-19 symptoms, but Ernest Ramirez contests the notion they are safe—or at least 100 percent safe.
“My son received the vaccine and he died a few days later, and the only explanation that was given to me was an enlarged heart,” Ramirez told Life Site News earlier this year.
Ramirez told former Fox 26 Houston journalist Ivory Hecker that he was told the vaccine was one hundred percent safe and effective, which is why he allowed his son to get the shot.
“I kept hearing more advertisements about how it was safe for the teenagers, so I said ‘OK,’” Ramirez told Hecker. “Two or three weeks later the CDC started announcing children were having enlarged hearts.”
16-year-old Ernesto Ramirez died of an enlarged heart five days after the jab, according to his autopsy which showed his heart was double the normal size. This story documents a father’s struggle for answers and justice. My exclusive report: https://t.co/Sgh483Rk7G pic.twitter.com/t6yi8StFVT— Ivory Hecker (@IvoryHecker) August 27, 2021
Enlarged hearts can be a symptom of myocarditis, the Myocarditis Foundation says, which is caused by inflammation that weakens the heart, causes swelling, and creates scar tissue that forces the heart to work harder.
Ramirez said his son played baseball and was in good health, but an autopsy revealed his son’s heart was abnormally large—about double that of a teenager his age.
“A typical heart for a boy this age would be less than 250 grams,” said Dr. Peter McCullough, a Dallas physician featured in Hecker’s video. “In this case it was more than 500 grams.”
Ramirez said he believes claims that the vaccines are perfectly safe are simply not true.
“I love the hell out of my country but I do not trust my government anymore,” he said in an interview this year.
Are the Vaccines Effective and Safe? Yes and No
Data show the vaccines have been effective at reducing the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. CDC data released last month show people who have been vaccinated are 29 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Two states with among the lowest fully-vaccinated rates in the US—Mississippi (41%) and Louisiana (44%)—have seen their COVID mortality rates rise to the highest and third-highest in the country, surpassing New Jersey and New York, respectively.
Mississippi passes New Jersey for the #1 spot in COVID deaths per capita— Jeremy Horpedahl 🍞🔕 (@jmhorp) September 16, 2021
Louisiana passes New York for the #3 spot
What's really tragic is that about 1/3 of the deaths in MS and LA have come since March 2021, when vaccines were available to all adults, with most since August pic.twitter.com/SZzWih6ok7
Though clearly effective—vaccinated individuals are more likely to die from a bee sting than COVID-19, evidence suggests—it is untrue to say vaccines carry no risks. Deaths attributed to vaccination are rare, but they do exist, though these deaths often receive little coverage.
One exception was Lisa Shaw, who died at the relatively young age of 44 in May after what doctors called a "vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia,” a condition that causes bleeding of the brain. Shaw worked for BBC Radio Newcastle, so the event was widely covered. Most are not.
Nevertheless, for many American adults—especially older ones or those with health issues—the vaccination choice remains an easy one; vaccination carries risks, but those risks are much lower than the risk of falling severely ill with COVID-19.
“The risks related to Covid are higher than the risks related to the vaccine,” Dr. Brian Feingold, an expert on heart inflammation, told the New York Times in an article exploring the risks of myocarditis.
What’s clear, however, is these risks for children and adults are different.
For starters, children have far less to fear from COVID-19 than adults. In fact, kids are more likely to die of the flu, car accidents, heart problems, cancer, swimming pools and other factors than COVID-19, CDC data show. Moreover, the risks of health complications from vaccination—though rare—are also less known.
Ernesto isn’t the only American teen to reportedly die after taking a vaccine, but the precise total isn’t known.
Unlike COVID cases and deaths, the government doesn’t have a transparent, reliable way to track complications from vaccines. The closest thing to a centralized, transparent system the government appears to have is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which has two big problems. First, the system relies on self-reporting; second, the information is catalogued but often not corroborated—which means it can be unreliable (which, one could argue, renders it nearly useless for most people).
In August, however, the CDC issued a report that noted myocarditis was listed among 4.3 percent of all VAERS reports and the agency had investigated a total of 14 minors who reportedly died after being vaccinated.
“Among the decedents, four were aged 12–15 years and 10 were aged 16–17 years,” the CDC said in the report. “All death reports were reviewed by CDC physicians; impressions regarding cause of death were pulmonary embolism (two), suicide (two), intracranial hemorrhage (two), heart failure (one), hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and disseminated Mycobacterium chelonae infection (one), and unknown or pending further records (six).”
The CDC also noted that VAERS is a passive system prone to underreporting.
Deleted By GoFundMe
COVID-19 vaccines will no doubt save many lives, but they carry risks as well—for both children and adults.
No one knows this better than Ernest Ramirez, a grieving father whose only son died of an enlarged heart days after he allegedly was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. (I emailed Pfizer’s communications department on Monday and asked if they were aware of Ernesto Ramirez’s death or Ernest Ramirez’s claims. I didn’t receive a response.)
Following the death of his son, Ramirez decided to raise awareness around the issue. So he launched a GoFundMe page—but soon found his page deleted for “prohibited conduct” and his donations forfeited.
GoFundMe cancels grieving father's fundraiser for son who died from vaccine - The BL https://t.co/H3YIGA0Tmv— Ernest Ramirez (@rgvrunner01) September 14, 2021
Ernest Ramirez may simply want to share his son’s story, but the message he wishes to share is a problematic one, for many.
With many still living in fear of COVID-19—even healthy and fully-vaccinated individuals—many view any information that would lend support to the vaccine hesitant as immoral. For this reason, many celebrated when campaigns were launched by Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to crackdown on vaccine misinformation. YouTube alone removed some 800,000 pieces of content “that were misaligned in terms of science,” and the effort eventually resulted in some prominent voices, such a former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson—a vaccine skeptic—being banned on Twitter.
Fear alone, however, isn’t driving the vaccine push; politics is, as well. Across the world, there are efforts to mandate vaccination, including in the US, where the policy is supported by the Biden administration, teachers unions, and progressive leaders across the US.
Indeed, despite its risks, some already are seeking to make the Pfizer shot mandatory for children to attend school or play sports once it is fully authorized—even though children are low risk and the CDC admits vaccinated individuals can still contract and transmit COVID-19.
If regulators approve that 5-11 year olds can be safely and effectively vaccinated against COVID, let's not repeat the mistake of allowing space and time to anti-vax extremists. States should immediately make anti-COVID vaccination a requirement for school, sports leagues, etc.— David Frum (@davidfrum) September 20, 2021
For people seeking to mandate vaccination, Ernesto Ramirez Jr.’s story isn’t just problematic, it’s potentially dangerous. This is why Ernest Ramirez’s campaign to inform Americans of a scientific reality—even effective vaccines that save lives come with risks that can be fatal—is being met with hostility.
Not to be deterred, Ramirez launched a separate fundraising page on Life Funder. As of Tuesday afternoon, he had received $18,514—more than 90 percent of his $20,000 goal.
Ramirez says he’s not telling anyone to not get vaccinated, he just wants to share his son’s story so parents are aware of something he was not.
“Let me clear one thing up,” he said in a tweet. “I am not telling anyone what to do … I’m just trying to tell people what happened to me and my son.”
Let me clear one thing up I am not telling anyone what to do you are all grown people all old enough to make up your own mind I’m just trying to tell people what happened to me and my son CDC put out a report saying that the vaccine effected about 60% of the teenage children— Ernest Ramirez (@rgvrunner01) September 16, 2021
Vaccines are life-saving, but it’s a scientific truth they also have life-claiming power, which is precisely why vaccination decisions can only be morally made by individuals who are fully informed of the benefits and the risks.
Ernest Ramirez was not aware of the risks, which is why he wants others to know them before they choose. Had he known, his greatest treasure might still be here today.
“He was a good kid. Never gave me any trouble,” Ramirez said of his son. “Polite, respectful, loved by all who met him. He was always by my side, my baby boy. I always told him it was me and you against the world.”