More antivax distortion: the Swine flu version

By Phil Plait | August 18, 2009 2:24 pm

The Daily Mail is a UK newspaper that has a tendency, oh, every so often, of printing articles that sometimes don’t exactly represent reality.

This is one such article. It links vaccinations for the swine flu to a neurological disorder called Guillaine-Barré Syndrome, or GBS. The article inflates the danger from vaccinations and may scare people into not getting their inoculations.

And you know how I feel about that.

Happily, a real doctor, my friend and fellow skeptic Steve Novella tears this apart in exquisite detail. Basically, GBS is an illness where a persons’s immune system attacks the myelin protein sheath covering nerves. This can lead to nerve damage and other problems, as it did in the swine flu outbreak in 1976. However, in general, if caught early it can be treated and the patient can expect a nearly complete recovery.

Why are vaccinations involved? As Dr. Novella says,

GBS can not only be triggered by the flu or other infections, but also by vaccines used to prevent infections. This is because vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system, to provoke an immune response – which is what causes GBS. The risk of getting GBS from the flu vaccine is about 1 in a million. This is very reliable data, as we have been using the same basic technology for the flu vaccine for decades and we have reliable statistics on GBS as treatment requires hospitalization. Some cases may be missed if they are very mild (probably rare, but also if a case is too mild to be recognized then who cares) or from misdiagnosis (also probably rare as it is fairly easy to eventually confirm the diagnosis even if it may be difficult initially).

So yes, vaccinations can in fact trigger GBS. However, this is nothing new, despite the breathless Daily Mail article. It’s been known for years and doctors are trained to keep an eye out for it.

And how big a risk is this?

So the risks from the vaccine may vary slightly as new strains are being targeted, but over the last 30 years since the 1976 episode the risk of GBS has been steady at about 1 in a million – far less than the risk of the flu itself.

Therefore the accusation that the upcoming H1N1 flu vaccine is untested is not a fair or accurate statement. It is highly tested.

So the antivax crew going around with their heads on fire screaming about the swine flu vaccine are, as usual, wrong, and presenting incredibly distorted "information". When you encounter anything the antivax people say, you really need to dig deeper than the info they give you. Like Apollo deniers and all the other antiscience crowd, they distort reality and don’t tell you everything you need to know to understand the actual situation.

Does medical science know everything? No, of course not. But it sure knows a whole lot more than the antivaxxers do. As Dr. Novella says:

The risk of GBS from the flu vaccine has been around 1 in a million – a very rare complication. The risk may not be any higher for the H1N1 vaccine. It is actually not known why the 1976 vaccine had a higher rate of GBS, but it has not been repeated in the last 30 years. Perhaps there is something about H1N1 that increases the risk of GBS, and for this reason monitoring GBS as the vaccine is administered is reasonable. So far, in preliminary tests of thousand of individuals with the new vaccine there has not been any increased risk of GBS, but this process in ongoing.

There are no absolute guarantees in medicine – but the best evidence we have to date strongly suggests that the risk of the H1N1 flu is likely to be much greater than the risk of the vaccine itself.

That’s something to always remember: despite the garbage conspiracy theory-toting antivaxxers are purveying, diseases tend to be a lot more dangerous than vaccination. Talk to your doctor, read what Steve Novella has to say, and get the real scoop on vaccination.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience

Comments (73)

  1. Now if only they had a flu vaccine for people who are violently allergic to eggs. *sigh*

  2. I’ve also addressed some vaccine myths at http://antiantivax.flurf.net (also available by clicking on my name). Please give it a read before voicing concerns about vaccines.

  3. “So far, in preliminary tests of thousand [sic] of individuals with the new vaccine there has not been any increased risk of GBS, but this process in [sic] ongoing.”
    If I’m reading that right, they’ve tested at least a thousand individuals and not found any increased risk of something that has a 1 in a million chance of occurring. Would we expect to? The incidence of the disease would have to increase by at least a couple of orders of magnitude for it to have a good chance of occurring once in a thousand individuals. But, anyway, they’re still testing, so okay.

  4. JGW

    If only they had a vaccine for people who are violently allergic to the Daily Mail

  5. Don’t forget to counter the anti-vax pro-disease nutters with facts, not fantasy!

    http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.html

  6. dhtroy

    But Dr. Plait,

    If they don’t say that the Swine Flu vaccination is evil, then how are they going to successfully market the Herbal Supplements they sell, that can be “taken in-place of the vacciantation”?

    Not to mention all the other media, like books, that will come out:

    Is the Government Injecting Nano Bots into your Blood Stream?
    The Vaccination Mind Control Connection
    Aliens Created Swine Flu to Take Over World!
    Government Created Swine Flu to Kill Aliens!
    Swine Flu for Dummies. How to Get Infected, Fast.

    :P

  7. Randy Monteiro

    Dr. Novella is awesome. He should be surgeon general.

  8. Only if we could re-apply the antivax vaccine… (the basic common sense and a desire to learn that we should have from primary schooling).

  9. LucyInDisguise

    We’re all gonna DIE!!!!!

    Well, no … not really. Well, yes, actually, but probably not from this.

    OT – btw, has anyone seen my Galileoscope around here anywhere? Nobody over there ever answers the phone or responds to messages, and emails get bounced by an autoresponder. Even though it’s been four months and everyone else seems to have already received theirs, I’m still really trying to be patient.

    Honest.

    Lucy

  10. Ernest

    Phil,

    Allow me to play the devil’s advocate here.

    We are told that vaccines have been thoroughly tested and that the test results are very reliable. Fine.

    But I came across this study that seems to suggest otherwise:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005738

    I agree this is just one study, and that more are needed, but it appears to be very well done. In my opinion, it casts some doubts on the ethics of researchers:

    “Once methodological differences were controlled for, cross-study comparisons indicated that samples drawn exclusively from medical (including clinical and pharmacological) research reported misconduct more frequently than respondents in other fields or in mixed samples. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first cross-disciplinary evidence of this kind, and it suggests that misconduct in clinical, pharmacological and medical research is more widespread than in other fields. This would support growing fears that the large financial interests that often drive medical research are severely biasing it “.

    These fears are often presented by the antivaxxers and it would appear that they are somewhat validated by this paper.

    I admit I have more questions than answers. How do we move away from such an unhealthy relationship between the medical research and the financial interests that drive it? Do we involve more independent labs? Do we have public (NGO) labs doublecheck the results?

    I don’t know. What do you think?

  11. Kirk

    OT to Lucy — I ordered mine in March, I believe. It was right when Phil put up that post saying they were going to cease production if they didn’t get more orders, so I figured I’d better do it soon. I got mine a couple weeks ago. It sounds like you might have ordered later than I did, so you still might be on an OK timeframe.

    To Phil’s tweet about worrying about not getting any anti-vaxxer hysteria yet. Lemme see…. How about — But I heard that Obama’s death panels are using the vaccines as easy ways to kill off the old and infirm by making them autistic?

  12. I was always somewhat skeptical of similar articles in newspapers but after reading Bad Science by Ben Goldacre this kinda stuff make my head hurt

  13. LucyInDisguise

    OT – Thanks Kirk – we probably ordered on the same day (order # in the low 8000’s) … this is why we be worried.

    Just got hold of a volunteer that works for them – she says she will try to track it down. It’s very rare, but there are times when living in a rural area has it’s DISadvantages. We now return you to our regularly scheduled antivax rant.

    Lucy

  14. Corey

    You know… if stupid people don’t get the vaccine and there are otherwise shortages of the vaccine come fall… doesn’t that mean smart people are more likely to get vaccinated?

    I’m failing to see how it is a bad thing to concentrate the vulnerability on teh stoopids?

    If xx people will not be vaccinated and yy of the un-vaccinated will die, it may as well be them.

  15. JoeSmithCA

    What the newspapers should be saying is, don’t get the flu shot if you’re allergic to eggs without talking to your doctor. I’m very mildly allergic to eggs, so I get a flu shot and tolerate a little bit of itchyness for a day. My son won’t be getting the flu shot as he’s so strongly allergic to eggs, it’d kill him.

    That reminds me, why don’t the anti-vaxers go after egg usage? Are the reasons so rock solid that they can’t nit pick it? I mean there is a real threat* not mercury, plutonium, EBS, Hobgoblins, Obama and the illuminati (Steve Jackson games makes a neat game by the way).

    *I personally think the whole thing is actually a cooked up by astronomers. Those telescopes are excellent wave guides for alien mind control. Hmmm This means Phil is under the control of aliens. Oh no! That’s why he noted in his book “Death from the Skies” (now in paperback!) that alien attack is very remote. He’s trying to to lull us into a false sense of security.

    The rest of the book, “To Serve Man”, it’s… it’s a cookbook!

    You’ve gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We’ve gotta stop them somehow!

    Look, you fools, you’re in danger! Can’t you see?! They’re after you! They’re after all of us! Our wives, our children, everyone! THEY’RE HERE, ALREADY! YOU’RE NEXT!

  16. mickf

    The Now Show(BBC radio comedy show) were talking about this. They were pointing out that while the main Daily Mail was running this story about the government killing children by giving them this vaccination, their Irish edition was campaigning against the Irish government claiming they are killing children because they haven’t yet started giving out the vaccinations.

  17. I'd rather be fishin'

    So, you’re telling me “Damned if you and damned if you don’t” is not just a common saying, it is the TRUTH!

    I sometimes wonder if some anti-vaxxer/homeopathethic nutbar is actively promoting that stuff just as a marketing gimmick for the latest miracle cure and acne treatment? If so, would that put some of us in violation of restraint of trade and anti-trust laws?

  18. I’ve had GBS. It was triggered by your garden-variety viral infection.

    So yeah, bollocks to that.

  19. That reminds me, why don’t the anti-vaxers go after egg usage?
    Because they suck eggs.

    Ah, that feels better.

  20. Corey, when they do not get vaccinated, the place our infants and other vulnerable at risk.

  21. tacitus

    Compounding the problem is the difference in the way the risks present themselves.

    Either you:

    1) decide not to give the swine flu vaccine to your children with, say, a one-in-ten-thousand chance of them becoming seriously ill,

    2) decide to give the swine flu vaccine to your children with a one-in-a-million chance of them becoming seriously ill.

    Logically, which option you choose is a no-brainer. One in a million is far better odds than one in ten thousand. But, psychologically it doesn’t feel as clear cut.

    With option (1) you’re essentially maintaining the status quo. You don’t have to arrange for your kids to get the shot, you don’t have to make appointments, etc. If your kids get sick, then that’s just unlucky — down to chance.

    Option (2) however, requires you to make the explicit decision to take your kids to the clinic and make them take the shots, and if they get sick because of the vaccine, it was your fault. Something you did directly resulted in your kids getting sick.

    Of course, this is a simplified scenario. In real life it’s impossible to calculate the odds as clearly, except to say that one is much greater than the other, and it’s especially difficult when the parents are told that we don’t even know if the swine flu will mutate into a more dangerous form and that we don’t know for sure how effective the vaccine will be. On top of all that, the anti-vaxxers have nothing to lose by exaggerating and lying about the risks of the vaccines, all of which reinforces the preference of the parents to do no harm—which seems a reasonable course of action on the face of it, even if it is dangerously wrong.

    The only saving grace is that if there really is a deadly outbreak, the terror will outweigh all of these more abstract concerns and the anti-vaxxers will be drown out in the flood of people seeking the vaccine. I just hope the system will be able to cope.

  22. Daughter of a Polio survivor

    My husband also had GBS, trigger unknown, but definitely not a vaccine. It is perhaps worth noting that BBS can be mild, but still very inconvenient. My husband lost the ability to lift his feet for about a year. I’m guessing that cases like this often get reported (as adverse effects) when associated with vaccines, but are lost to the statistics when they have no particular cause. Thus, I’m guessing that mild GBS is both more common than statistics would suggest and less correlated to vaccines.

  23. Tried posting some info on GBS a couple times, but my post keeps disappearing. Discover Magazine folks, what’s going on? Someone else had the same problem on another thread.

  24. Gary Ansorge

    To vax or not to vax, that is the question. Whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous infection or, by raising the arm to needle, overwhelm them.

    See. Even Shakespeare had it nailed. Sort of.

    GAry 7

  25. Corey

    Heidi, if you assume there are enough vaccines for everyone, what you say is true.

    But it is my understanding there will not be enough. My point stands. If some percentage of the population will NOT be vaccinated due to shortages, it may as well be the idiots that think that’s safer.

  26. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W.,

    Did your post in question contain any links?

    @ Phil Plait,

    At the fourth paragraph, in the second line, that should be person’s, not “persons’s”.
    ;-)

  27. Ernest

    @ Todd W.,

    Turn off your invisibility button before you post your comment. :-)

  28. Didn’t you guys know that H1N1 was developed by the government to promote their new “vaccine” so they can infect us all with autism?!

  29. Why is it every time I read a post from IVAN3MAN I hear the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons?

    ;-)

  30. Ernest

    @ Sarah

    Not quite!

    But here’s some interesting background and info on H1N1 (formerly referred to as “swine flu”) as provided by the HSUS:

    http://www.hsus.org/farm/news/ournews/qa_on_swine_flu_050209.html

  31. @IVAN3MAN

    Tried it both with and without the links. No “Your post is awaiting moderation” or anything. Looks like Pat Cahalan had a similar issue in the previous antivax thread.

  32. @Todd W.
    Try Rot13ing the post. It may confuse the spam filter.

  33. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W.,

    I think that it’s because of the likes of QUASAR/ZERO/BUNNY messing about in the comments section, which then forced Phil Plait to jack up his anti-spam filter and, consequently, it results in some legitimate posts, such as yours, being dumped because of some ‘bad’ words or what-have-you.

  34. ColonelFazackerley

    “The Daily Mail is a Newspaper”?

    That’s stretching it a bit. http://www.badscience.net/category/media/papers-mail/

  35. captain swoop

    BBC Radio 4 had a nurse on the ‘PM’ news show last night advising other nurses and hospital staff not to get the Flu shot that is going to be offered to them first. SHe was claiming that all vaccines are a bad thing and the Swine FLu shot is the worst, it’s more of a risk than the Flu.

  36. GBS does kill

    Interestingly in the rebuttal it mentions that he has never seen a death from GBS.

    Well, my grandfather died while in the hospital with GBS. He has a severe case with respiratory problems. From the GBS support group I meet many others who had also come close to death or had been paralysed for many months. Although that was nearly 20 years ago.

    We never did find any reason for my grandfathers case, although it was always assumed to be a very mild flu.

  37. Thanks for posting this Phil. I just realized that you sent me this item.

  38. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oh joy. The local sensationalist newspaper printed such an article yesterday.

    vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system, to provoke an immune response – which is what causes GBS.

    So vaccines would provoke ~ 3 (bad flu at 30 % of population) – 20 (ordinary flu at ~ 5 %) more cases, all else equal? Likely even the same individuals is at risk.

    But the 1976 episode shows that not all else is equal. Possibly then the flu, giving a large immune reaction, provokes on the same order of cases. [It could be the reverse, a definite reaction barring GBS complications, immune system responses are complicated and paradoxical at times. But it isn’t as likely.]

    Perhaps vaccine even prevents GBS?! If so, take that, anti-vaxxers!

  39. Monkey

    The article aside, check out the comments!! They blow my mind with ignorance.

  40. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ #11 Ernest:

    How do you expect to overturn science and surveys by more science and surveys? (o.O)

    But seriously, you are quotemining like a creationist:

    … biasing it [50], [51], [52]. However, as all survey-based data, this finding is open to the alternative interpretation that respondents in the medical profession are simply more aware of the problem and more willing to report it. This could indeed be the case, because medical research is a preferred target of research and training programs in scientific integrity, and because the severe social and legal consequences of misconduct in medical research might motivate respondents to report it. However, the effect of this parameter was not robust to one of the sensitivity analyses, so it would need to be confirmed by independent studies before being conclusively accepted.

    So at the very best, it is inconclusive. It is also inconsistent, because the reporting of self and of others are at large discrepancy, so this isn’t a reliable method. (In a news release Fanelli tries unsatisfactorily to explain that by failure of anonymity, but even understanding the failure doesn’t make the method reliable.)

    Moreover, a correlation between reporting misconduct and fear of biasing isn’t shown, and for reasons of statistical artifacts it must.

    Also, finally, such a correlation doesn’t prove misconduct nor biasing – reading the paper there is reason to believe that the objective measures that shows misconduct on the order of reporting self are consistent and reliable.

    But, in the interest of a discussion, if actual misconduct would be an order or two more frequent, would that make the method of science unreliable by biasing? I don’t see how, competition would still point out wrong results.

    And specifically here, a few erroneous publications wouldn’t detract from the well known and robust results we have: that vaccines works very well and are exceedingly safe, especially as medicines goes but also compared to most other human endeavor. I’ll bet medical exams hurt more people. :-/

    [Fanelli’s institution has an interest in ecology and politics, I see. The urge to fight the windmills of political and corporate interests must be overwhelming.

    Also, Fanelli declares no conflict of interest. But this is likely a make or break work for him, trying to carve out the expected result from that particular grant and from his research. Not that I suspect him of any misconduct… :-o]

  41. kris

    C3-PO says “Vaccinate your kids!”

    Public service announcement

  42. Typo: it’s Guillain-Barré. You put an extra “e” in there.

  43. Heather

    I wish people would understand the undercurrents in governments around the world. Our new Science “Czar” John Holdren wrote a book back in ’77 talking about eugenics. How to force sterilize the population, and how the population needs to be kept under control. I would also like to point out a certain place in Georgia(the state) that has some “guidestones” out in the middle of nowhere. On these stones, written in all the languages we have on the planet, are what the global elites would really like to do to humanity. The first line in english states that the world population needs to be brought down to 500,000,000.

    I would like to also point out that this swine flu thing is fear mongering by our governments of the world. When you consider that in the U.S. alone 36,000 people die from normal flu EVERY YEAR then consider that as of a month ago less than 2,000 people have died from the swine flu, and the Docters admit that most of those people had other complications and they are usually dying in 3rd world countries where living conditions are horrible and medical care is sketchy at best. They are hyping you up to take a vaccine for a disease that is insignifigant. DON’T YOU EVER STOP AND ASK YOURSELF WHY? The government and main stream media tried this same tactic with the West Nile Virus, 2,000 people a summer get sick and 20 die. What kind of pandemic is that?

    I tell you people now, the governments of the world are going to pull out all the stops this fall. Martial law, forced vaccinations, FEMA camps, you name it. IF you are all so determined to let the government inject you with god knows what in their vaccinations then I say more power to you. You are the very people we are trying to wake up to the real and present danger that is on our doorstep, but since you won’t wake up and take a real look around you then I hope you take the vaccine, I hope it puts you in the ground because when the real trouble starts I don’t want to have to take time protecting my family from the minimum wage traitors to slap you out of your hysteria. Have a great day.

  44. Ernest

    @ Torbjörn Larsson, Om

    Thank you for your feedback.

    Like I said, this is one survey only, the first meta-analysis of its kind to be made on this specific topic, according to the author. And I find it is well documented. It’s a good starting point, but more is needed.

    Overturn science? Science is overturned each time a new discovery is made that invalidates the theories that were previously standing.

    I was not trying to cherry pick by selecting a quote from the study, if this is what you are suggesting. I just used this quote to illustrate one of the arguments put up by the antivaxxers. People will read the whole survey, and then draw their own conclusions, just like you did.

    And I fail to see how liking me to a creationist is relevant in this matter. If, as you did, I were to jump to conclusion, based on this one statement of yours, I would say that you are clearly biased and that everything you say needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But aren’t we all just a wee bit biased? :-)

  45. I call Poe on Heather.

  46. JoeSmithCA

    There are some people who don’t evoke any immune response to vaccines, that’s one I bet the anti-vaxxers won’t nit pick on. “Get a flu shot and nothing will happen to you! nothing at all!” So the scenarios for getting the flu shot and then you are exposed to the real flu (in order of likelyhood or weirdness):

    Body evokes the proper response and you don’t get the flu

    Body evokes the proper response and you get a mild case of the flu

    Body doesn’t evoke any response and you get the full blown flu

    Body evokes a proper response but the virus strain is different and you get either a muted version of the flu or the full effects of the flu

    Body evokes a nasty immune system response because you’re allergic to eggs because you didn’t pay attention to all the warnings about eggs allergies

    Body evokes a GBS response

    You get a blood clot

    Body evokes a proper response and destroys all the RFID tags in the flu shot but Obama’s evil plan to kill off most of the world works and you die.

    Body does not evoke a proper response, some men in white clothes come by take you away and turn you into Soylent Green chips.

    Somebody got confused and gave you a dose of morphine, you wander around in a daze for several hours and later find your ankle is sprained from tripping off a curb then you get the flu anyways

    Your body is now under the control of the alien controlled evil astronomers, your are forced to believe the world is round, the moon landings happened and you are doomed to live a long normal life without paranoia

    Your body evokes an proper immune response just as a rather large undetected asteroid slams into the earth right next to you.

    You fall madly in love with the nurse administering the shot, unfortunatly one of you is married. A jealous spouse gets involved and shoots both of you but then the spouse comes down with the flu and dies as well.

    Your body evokes a proper immune response but just then CERN is turned on and the entire universe is converted into strange matter.

    Your body evokes a proper immune response just as the gamma ray machine is switched on. You wake up later in the middle of a desert half naked and wearing purple shorts.

  47. IVAN3MAN
  48. Andrew

    My grandmother was one of the lucky few who got GBS after the 1976 flu vaccine. So I will not be taking any flu vaccine. Not because of any other vaccine fears, or wanting to please Jenny McCarthy, or the general concern about GBS – if my grandmother hadn’t had it, I’d probably be on board for the vaccine. But with a legitimate family history, it just makes more sense.

    I’ll manage, somehow. It’ll help if everyone else gets the vaccine. Do it for me!

  49. @IVAN3MAN

    rofl. Lovely.

  50. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W.,

    Thanks!

  51. Gary Ansorge

    49. JoeSmithCa

    I woke up in the desert once.
    Don’t know about gamma rays
    but the light was intense,,,

    GAry 7

  52. IVAN3MAN

    The Chemist (#48):

    I call Poe on Heather.

    Worst. Poe. Ever.

  53. Thanks IVAN3MAN. It’s been ages since I’d checked out the kitteh. At least an hour of work down the drain this morning (that is a good thing).

  54. Heather

    Your Poe, whatever that means, means nothing to me. I’ll see you on the other side, then we’ll know who’s right.

  55. A Nonny Moose

    I think the new meme reply is “It’s like talking to a dining table”.

    Scuze me while I remove the tin foil from my casserole.

  56. I was just listening to PZ Myers talking to a dining table, sorry Ken Ham, on the radio* when another bloke, Dr Jason Lisle**, came on talking about what is the ultimate truth. He said,

    “Basically the ultimate proof of creation is that the bible has to be true because if it weren’t you couldn’t prove that anything is true. It turns out that the biblical world view and only the biblical world view can account for those things that are essential for reasoning, for science, making ethical judgements…”

    In the face of such logic my brain to turned to mush, leaked out on to the floor and was mopped up by a cleaner by the name of Hey Zeus. So, sorry Heather, can’t be bothered playing right now.

    * http://www.scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/ken_ham_on_the_air_lying_again.php
    ** An astrophysicist from Uni of Colorado who works for Answers In Genesis?

  57. Nigel Depledge

    @ Heather (46) –

    OK, I’m gonna assume that you are genuine and not merely trolling…

    Heather (46) said:

    I wish people would understand the undercurrents in governments around the world. Our new Science “Czar” John Holdren

    Who?

    wrote a book back in ‘77 talking about eugenics. How to force sterilize the population, and how the population needs to be kept under control. I would also like to point out a certain place in Georgia(the state) that has some “guidestones” out in the middle of nowhere. On these stones, written in all the languages we have on the planet, are what the global elites would really like to do to humanity. The first line in english states that the world population needs to be brought down to 500,000,000.

    If these really exist, it would be trivially easy for you to link to a photograph, wouldn’t it? So, why not do that? Then your claim would be backed up by, y’know, evidence.

    I would like to also point out that this swine flu thing is fear mongering by our governments of the world.

    Rubbish. It really does have the potential to be a pandemic.

    When you consider that in the U.S. alone 36,000 people die from normal flu EVERY YEAR

    Yes, the “normal” flu being several different strains (technically, serotypes) and these deaths being mainly among the elderly and infirm.

    then consider that as of a month ago less than 2,000 people have died from the swine flu,

    OK, the grammar-nazi in me feels compelled to point out that people are discrete entities, not a substance. It’s fewer than 2000 people, not “less”.

    Anyway, assuming that your figure is correct, what makes it different is that it is a serotype to which humans have not been exposed for a considerable time. It appears to be killing a broader cross-section of the population (i.e. not just the elderly), and, in the southern hemisphere (which, BTW, is just coming to the end of winter) it has replaced all of the normally-circulating serotypes.

    It is this last factor that is the strongest indicator of the potential of this new variant.

    and the Docters admit that most of those people had other complications and they are usually dying in 3rd world countries where living conditions are horrible and medical care is sketchy at best.

    Again, assuming this to be correct, this new variant seems to be following the pattern of previous pandemics, i.e. that it begins with a very mild wave, and is subsequently followed by a much more severe wave (the pandemic itself). We’ve had the mild wave. What next?

    Well, if we all take the appropriate precautions, there will be no pandemic.

    If we take no precautions, there may or may not be a pandemic. All we know at this stage is that the new variant has the potential to cause a pandemic and that it is following the pattern of previous pandemics (most especially in supplanting all other flu serotypes).

    All it needs to do to turn into our worst nightmare is become a little bit more virulent.

    They are hyping you up to take a vaccine for a disease that is insignifigant.

    It may be insignificant now. That is the initial, mild, wave of infection. It has the potential to kill hundreds of millions worldwide.

    Is that a risk you want to take?

    DON’T YOU EVER STOP AND ASK YOURSELF WHY?

    Yes, indeed. Don’t you ever try to find out the facts of the case? You seem to have cherry-picked a few of the most reassuring facts and based your decisions on those, rather than trying to understand the epidemiology of the virus. There is a good reason that the WHO is seriously concerned about this.

    The government and main stream media tried this same tactic with the West Nile Virus, 2,000 people a summer get sick and 20 die. What kind of pandemic is that?

    WNV, fortunately, did not become very infectious. Was this due to chance or due to public health policy? We may never know the answer to this.

    However, since viruses evolve so fast, WNV did indeed have the potential to cause a severe epidemic (I do not think the word “pandemic” was used in the coverage of WNV) that could have killed hundreds of thousands.

    I tell you people now, the governments of the world are going to pull out all the stops this fall.

    And would you rather they ignored the potential of this virus to cause a pandemic?

    Martial law, forced vaccinations, FEMA camps, you name it.

    Presumably, if you have seen these plans, you can post them online and link to them, right?

    Martial law I will believe when I hear it from an official source.

    IF you are all so determined to let the government inject you with god knows what in their vaccinations then I say more power to you.

    Well, I know what’s in a flu vaccine and I don’t think I’m a god. Seriously, it is very easy to find out the key components of a vaccine. Go to a good library and look in a virology textbook.

    You are the very people we are trying to wake up to the real and present danger that is on our doorstep, but since you won’t wake up and take a real look around you then I hope you take the vaccine, I hope it puts you in the ground because when the real trouble starts I don’t want to have to take time protecting my family from the minimum wage traitors to slap you out of your hysteria. Have a great day.

    Well, since you don’t even specify what the “real and present danger” is, you’re not doing a very good job, are you?

    Seriously, this last bit is completely incoherent. Maybe you should go back on the meds, hmm?

  58. Chris

    After Heather’s first rambling screed I posted a link to an editorial cartoon related to that, but it never got out of moderation. I am going to try again with a munged link:
    dub dub dub dot seattlepi.com/horsey/viewbydate.asp?ID=1979

  59. Frank

    “Anti-AntiVaxers”

    Just once, even once, I’d like to see an “Anti-AntiVax” (Pro-Chemical-Injection) article that addresses any of the relevant facts. Please, just 1 relevant fact. Is it too much to ask? You could start with addressing the fact that in 1976 more people died from the vaccine then died from the supposed disease. You could then address the fact that most of our H1N1 tests aren’t even accurate and anybody with a cough is labeled “Swine Flu.” Then you could address why historically – 100% of the media Flu death statistics are misconstrued by combining Flu and HOSPITAL-INDUCED pneumonia deaths (see page 33 and notice only 1,800 died from the flu in 2005 according to the CDC):

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_10.pdf

    The media portrays Pro-vaccine zealots as scientists and saints. In reality, Pro-Vaccine sycophants are just a bunch of pathetic internet dunces who can’t read Basic English and who failed elementary mathematics.

    Real Science = Engineering and Technology.

    Fairy-Tale Science = Big Pharma Medicine, Life-Origins, and Astro-Anything.

    Sincerely,
    Frank

  60. Chris

    Wow, Frank, you really know how to lose friends and create enemies! Your little real science equals engineering and technology equation is sophomoric, and an hint that you know little about basic science.

    Another big flaw in your “argument” is that if one part of medicine fails, that means all medicine is bad. That is like saying since de Havilland Comets tended to break up and fall out of the sky, all jet aircraft are prone to breaking up and falling out of the sky for the same reason.

    Actually, there is a blog that answers your questions if you are willing to actually read, http://www.virology.ws/ .

  61. @Frank

    In addition to Chris’ link, you may also take a look at http://tinyurl.com/ry6jyt for additional vaccine-related info.

    You could start with addressing the fact that in 1976 more people died from the vaccine then died from the supposed disease.

    Here’s some info on the 1976 event: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol12no01/05-1007.htm

    You’ll find that that incident was a rather complex situation, and that it does not apply to vaccines in general, but was rather a unique occurrence.

    You could then address the fact that most of our H1N1 tests aren’t even accurate and anybody with a cough is labeled “Swine Flu.”

    You have some citations that a) the tests are not accurate and b) that anybody with a cough is labeled swine flu?

    HOSPITAL-INDUCED pneumonia deaths

    So…where exactly did you get the “hospital induced” part of that? I couldn’t find any mention of hospitals in the link you provided. Perhaps this is simply your bias peeking through?

    Also, I see that the report you linked to provides numbers for flu deaths separate from pneumonia. Where have you seen reports of flu deaths that have included pneumonia that was not a complication of influenza? Assuming that the media is inflating the numbers, my guess is that they either don’t know how to read the reports, or they are going for sensationalism, trying to get more readers. But then, if you’re going to the media to get your science…

    At any rate, what the media says has nothing to do with whether vaccines work or not.

  62. Joe

    I never really put much stock in what the Daily Fail says. But H1N1 is just a mild flu, i’ll take my chances and get the flu rather than risk complications from a rushed vaccination. I never get flu shots either, even though i’ve been offered them the last few years. I prefer to stay away from doctors when at all possible.

  63. SteveA

    It looks like the Daily Mail story has just shown up in a newer version on MSN:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32524843/ns/health-more_health_news

    It seems to contain much of the same misinformation & sloppy reporting as the original article. If you want to see some really disturbing stuff, read the comments on the story. Lots of conspiracy theory nuts commenting on a story that they clearly haven’t read. I posted a link to Dr. Novellas blog on this subject, but I doubt it will do much good with that crowd.

  64. @Nigel Depledge [~60]

    HEATHER: John Holdren

    NIGEL: Who?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Holdren

    NOTE: Check his ‘early works’ for the ‘claim’ Heather made… totally wrong, right out of Glenn Beck/Sean Hannity/etc.

    HEATHER: Georgia(the state) that has some “guidestones” out in the middle of nowhere. On these stones, written in all the languages we have on the planet, are what the global elites would really like to do to humanity. The first line in english states that the world population needs to be brought down to 500,000,000.

    NIGEL: If these [guidestones] really exist, it would be trivially easy for you to link to a photograph, wouldn’t it? So, why not do that? Then your claim would be backed up by, y’know, evidence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Guidestones

    NOTE: The stones were created anonymously.

    Now, that took me about 2 minutes (including reading the entire articles – but I DO ‘speed read’) to do. Apparently Heather doesn’t know about (care)Google or Wikipedia. (or facts)

    J/P=?

  65. econcurious

    The problem is that there is still a level of uncertainty with regard to potential side effects from the vaccine. In fact, there are even quite a few doctors and nurses who say they will not take the drug because of this lack of certainty. And yes, the virus could very well be far more dangerous than the vaccination. But what if it is not? And since there is likely not enough vaccine to go around at this point, perhaps it is only acceptable for the most-at-risk groups to take anyway.
    If anything, it’s scary that these vaccines could not only bring on GBS, but possibly other problems as well. There’s a video that brings up different points of view on these issues at newsy.com. It’s worth watching:

    http://www.newsy.com/videos/h1n1_vaccine_needed_but_not_ready

  66. BH

    I say that if a parent chose’s not to vaccinate that’s his or her prerogative……..I myself have NEVER had the regular flu vaccine and guess what have never had the flu……My parents whom regularly had the flu vaccine because of jobs always got the flu after getting the vaccine….hmmm what does this say……Give those who chose to let their children’s immune system do what it was built to do a break will ya….I am a mom whom is on the fence about pumping my two and three year old children full of something that hasn’t been out on the market long enough to know the long term effects of this new vaccine……

  67. Paul

    @BH

    “….hmmm what does this say?”

    Nothing at all. It’s just an anecdote.

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