Outfoxing H1N1

By Phil Plait | August 27, 2009 9:30 am

Man, it must be easy to work at Fox news.

Well, not at first. I imagine when they remove most of your brain it might be painful at first, but after that it’s easy enough. After all, how much energy did it take to create this poll?

Fox news swine flu poll

The current results aren’t surprising: Fox news readers think taking the vaccine is a higher risk by a margin of almost 2 to 1 (out of 18,000+ votes). And I thought most antivaxxers were on the left side of the political spectrum! It sure is nice to know that Fox can agree with left-wingers on something. And of course they’re both wrong.

… and I can’t help but notice the disclaimer on the bottom: "This is not a scientific poll". Are they bragging?

Tip o’ the needle to Cristiani Senni.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience

Comments (103)

  1. But technically it’s a low risk that you’ll even get the H1N1 virus in any case, and many people believe vaccinations give you a small dose of the illness to immunise yourself against it, so it’s no wonder the poll turned out that way.

    I guess that’s still medical ignorance, though.

  2. eliterrell

    This is sort of funny because it compares the risk of 2 outcomes (getting sick from H1N1 and getting sick from the vaccine) that most people aren’t equipped to calculate let alone compare. It’s like the media is trying to figure out which kind of panic to fan the flames of. I’m not downplaying the danger of an epidemic- obviously at some point people need to be inoculated and it’s probably wise to get a head start on medical personnel and so on BEFORE it is a real problem. It’s just not something I feel the need to lose any sleep over.

  3. drow

    by not getting the vaccine, i avoid the risk of the nurse going all psycho and jabbing the needle repeatedly into my brain while chanting the epithets of mighty cthulhu, who shall rise from the depths to destroy the pathetic works of man. QED FTW.

  4. Ray

    I’m less than enamored of your continued Fox bashing. That poll question, while not very good, is just as bad as the ones CNN runs. Yet you don’t bash CNN when they run similar questions.

    You could at least make an honest attempt at objectivity.

  5. Ugh! I made the mistake of reading some of the comments there. Of course the 1976 swine flu came up, and one commenter had the following tidbits:

    This is a pandemic, not a epidemic and is very reminicsent of 1976 when the goverment wanted the population to take the first Swine Flu vaccine.

    Is this person implying that a pandemic is not as serious as an epidemic? They also noted:

    It also contains mercury as well despite what some professionals and critcs say aboutt this and children.

    Oh noes! The spectre of mercury-causes-teh-autisms! And, seeming to offer this as advice:

    Many are taking the Pneumococcal vaccine in addition to the influenza vaccine instead of taking the Swine Flu Vaccine that has no long term studies on safety.

    All well and dandy for them, but it won’t do squat against the swine flu.

    They did, however, offer some practical advice that would actually help:

    Common sense to stay out of crowded enviroment that carry germs and WASH YOUR HANDS!

    Lots of comments saying that there is no evidence of safety. Lots of links to ObamacareTM.

  6. Michael Schuler

    I have to vote not taking the vaccine for myself. I have an egg allergy that prevents me from taking it. But I’d be insane if I didn’t let my daughter get the vaccine.

  7. Michele

    Dear god. My brain hurts. I am so sad about the prevalence of ignorance in this country. Ow, ow, ow.

  8. Wes

    The decision for adults to get vaccinated is more nuanced than your post would imply, especially for a fast track vaccine and a new bug. By taking the fundamentalist position that there’s only one right answer, you do the thinking portion of the adult population a disservice.

  9. Patrick

    The subject of the safety of the H1N1 vaccination is a hot topic in the public. The public needs to be educated on the safety of this thing and the greater chance of living in the future by taking it.

    This poll shows what the view of 18000 Fox viewers is. But what the heck does that have to do with Fox News itself? Blasting Fox for those views is like suing Google for indexing a blog post where you came off as an idiot with a Fox Bashing agenda.

  10. @Ray ‘You could at least make an honest attempt at objectivity.’

    Tell that to Fox. Fair and Balanced me arse.

  11. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    This is the only flu vaccine I’m contemplating taking. Sure there is a risk with the vaccine but I prefer that instead of the risk of contracting H1N1.

    “Oh, but come on, it didn’t do a whole lot. It wasn’t that bad.”

    Not yet, but since it’s still going around during a time when most people are outside and not crowded, the chances of contracting it during a time when people come in from the cold weather inside of buildings will be bigger.

    Lots of people may become sick. Being sick with H1N1 will cause lots of missed work days. Some of those people will be seriously ill and be hospitalized. Of those that are hospitalized, a few will die. I don’t even want to risk that first part, much less that last one.

  12. No wonder they say it isn’t a scientific poll. One could vote (say, for “Not Taking the Vaccine”), then click Return to Poll, then VOTE AGAIN! Not only is multiple voting a possibility, it’s a feature!

    Not that I’d encourage throngs of BadAstronomy voters to go in and vote repeatedly for “Not Taking the Vaccine.” Because telling throngs of BadAstronomy voters to go in and vote repeatedly for “Not Taking the Vaccine.” So I am definitely not telling throngs of BadAstronomy voters to go in and vote repeatedly for “Not Taking the Vaccine.” ;-)

    EDIT: I just tried (for scientific experimental purposes) and it looks like multiple voting doesn’t actually work. I probably just saw someone else’s vote going through. So ignore my previous post. Of course, if everyone here went in and voted for “Not Taking the Vaccine”, it would still help to tip the scales of the poll.

  13. gnoerpf

    The answers probably just show that high-impact risks (like death) are assumed to be more likely/troublesome than low-impact risks (like catching H1N1 for two weeks).

  14. @ray: The one big issue with FOX news is the way they worded the question. The H1N1 vaccine is a flu vaccine. It is NOT being “fast tracked”. They have swalled the antivaccine carp about it being “untested” and everything else that is wrong with the way they worded that poll. Of coures people are going to react negatively! Phil is good to call them on it.
    This strain of flu is novel, not the vaccine itself.

  15. JohnW

    Taking a fast-track vaccine whose safety and effectiveness can be questioned by reasonable people, versus getting an overhyped strain of flu not much more deadly than the common. _0- -0_

    FOXX ARE THE IDIOTZZ!!1!1

  16. jsb16

    I wonder how many of the people who are panicky about the risks of taking the fast-tracked swine flu vaccine because it doesn’t have a safety record would buy a newly redesigned car in its first model year. Would these people worry because the new car doesn’t have a safety record, or would they think “Well, it’s very close to these other cars that have an established safety record, so it’s probably safe”?

  17. Charles

    The vaccine is being promoted by a Democratic administration. It must be bad.

  18. JohnW

    @TechyDad – that only works with the Weblog Awards. Cha-ching!

  19. Thanny

    Yes, it’s quite silly of Phil to pick on Faux News because of this poll. He should be mocking it because of the relentless stream of lies and distortions it broadcasts under the mantle of “news”.

    But it’s true that all news sites have horribly stupid polls.

  20. farciliptus

    Obviously taking the vaccine is the greater risk, it is guaranteed to infect you with the virus.

    Even if the virus is dead.

    You still feel yucky.

    Yucky… I’ll take my chances with death!

  21. In looking for updates on the clinical trials for the vaccine, I happened upon the FDA’s list of products for which false claims are being made in relation to H1N1: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/h1n1flu/

    I also found the following article, talking about the clinical trials: http://tinyurl.com/n77zc8

    So far, no major adverse events appear to have been reported.

    Edited to Add: I am provisionally for getting the vaccine when it becomes available, based on the current (though early) safety evidence.

  22. TheLoneIguana

    Fox News seems like they’re experiencing the down-slide from that surgery in “Flowers for Algernon.” They just keep getting dumber and dumber.

    Of course, I don’t think the surgery was very successful to begin with.

  23. mike

    FoxNews is #1 at Political PROPAGANDA….give them some credit. Hey, do call themselves CON-servatives don’t they?

  24. Kerry Maxwell

    #3 the nurse going all psycho and jabbing the needle repeatedly into my brain while chanting the epithets of mighty cthulhu

    That is precise;y my fetish.

  25. @William ‘Tell that to Fox. Fair and Balanced me arse.’

    Which makes it perfectly ok to be completely un-objective about them in return. Right? People can bash Fox News all they want, but nobody ever seems to note the fact that almost all mainstream news sources are no longer very objective about anything, I don’t care which channel it is. That’s why I get my news from Fark. :)

  26. Gadfly

    Patrick – absolutely right.
    William – careful, your own prejudice is showing. Non-partisan university based studies have invariably proven that Fox is, in fact, fair and balanced. Yes there are conservative commentary programs. And they are labeled as such. Commentary. Watch the news and you’ll actually learn both sides of an issue. Unlike any other cable channel. Which is why they beat the next four cable news channels combined in viewership.

  27. Ubiquitous

    Phil needs to stick to astronomy instead of his tedious political dogma.

  28. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    Now, the punchline:

    Kids are 14 times more likely to get infected by H1N1 than the elderly.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=apjNe9a4e6To

    “CDC reports on swine flu cases in young Chicagoans”
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-il-swineflu-chicago,0,6306588.story

    From the 1557 cases in Chicago.

    Small sample. Seven adults have died, with two of those deaths by adults in their 20s. No children have died.

    Apparently, the young are more susceptible to H1n1 than the elderly, with young adults taking a serious hit. Another report states that those with lung disease are at extreme risk.

    I, being almost 4o, is less at risk for contracting H1N1 than my nephews and nieces. My lungs are healthy, so I am not at extreme risk. However, I am an adult and it seems from other reports that even seeming healthy adults can die, after becoming infected.

    “H1N1 death projections: doing the math”
    http://wellness.blogs.time.com/2009/08/25/h1n1-death-projections-doing-the-math/

    From here, the death rate of H1N1 is the same as the flu. (“See I told you it was all hype.”) However, the infection rate is much higher than the standard seasonal flu. (“So, I’m still right.”) That means more people are going to get it and more people will die. (“So what, lots of people die from the flu. No one ain’t in no panic. This is just MMS hype, from the media.”)

    This time, the elderly are not hit as hard as the regular flu. Instead, young adults are dying and kids are contracting it far more than the elderly, thus far. (“La-la-la-la.”) The risk has shifted from the normal target–the elderly–and has shifted to adults who work and breed. (“….”)

    Yes, the possible risk may be more than health, it may have financial and economic repercussions.

    (“Yeah, well you’re still a sumo-intellekshul doody-head.”)

    Whatever, good luck with your saline-shots, er, I mean homeopathic vaccine.

  29. Its because we all know that what they are really doing is rounding up our children to send them to some evil alien race to use to get high. I saw it on TV and everything. Never trust the government.

  30. 8. Patrick Says:
    August 27th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    This poll shows what the view of 18000 Fox viewers is. But what the heck does that have to do with Fox News itself? Blasting Fox for those views is like suing Google for indexing a blog post where you came off as an idiot with a Fox Bashing agenda.
    ____________

    It’s perfectly valid to blast the Fox “News” network for the opinions of its braindead viewers. They’re only regurgitating the crap that Fox jams down their throat. These “polls” are more like pop quizzes – they don’t measure opinion, just how effective the network has been at propagandizing.

  31. 7. Wes Says:
    August 27th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    you do the thinking portion of the adult population a disservice.

    What do they have to do with anything? This is a Fox poll, remember?

  32. Quiet Desperation

    Pretty much all online polls are listed as not scientific, and I have my doubts about so called scientific ones. I’m skeptical of anything resembling a self report study.

    Could the smart folken just accept that the whole “Left Versus Right” thing in this country became a real life version of “Spy Versus Spy” from Mad Magazine decades ago, only without less nuance and far less humor?

    I want a Bad Astronomy review of District 9, dang it! ;-)

  33. @Gadfly. I believe the real reason Fox is ‘#1′ is because they pander to the lowest common denominator. I will never leave it up to Fox News or any other single organization to educate me on ‘both’ sides of a story. ‘The News’ is in the business of selling soap more than ever and they will sensationalize anything to attract viewers. That is my personal commentary as this site is Phil’s personal commentary. Prejudice? Nah, just carefully crafted opinion.

  34. @John W.

    an overhyped strain of flu not much more deadly than the common.

    According to the World Health Organization, as of Aug. 21, there have been over 182,166 cases of H1N1 reported, with 1,799 deaths worldwide. That works out to about 9.8 deaths per 1,000 people infected. In the Americas, there have been 105,882 cases with 1,579 deaths, or 14.9 deaths per 1,000 infected.

    Seasonal flu may have a somewhat higher risk of death (can’t find the numbers right now, so this is from memory). So, while you might be correct that the H1N1 strain is not as bad as seasonal flu, the odds still are not all that great.

    Edited to Add: Looking at the 1976 case, 48,161,019 people received the vaccine. 25 died. So that’s about .05 deaths per 100,000 vaccinated. Hmm…~15 deaths/1,000 from the current swine flu vs. .05 deaths/100,000 from the ’76 vaccine… Food for thought.

  35. 35. William Says:
    August 27th, 2009 at 10:58 am

    @Gadfly. Yes, my prejudice is naked. I believe the real reason Fox is #1, as you say, is because of pandering to the lowest common denominator.
    __________

    Exactly. Lots of people like Bud Light, Wonder Bread, and American Idol. It doesn’t mean any of these things are good.

  36. llewelly

    And I thought most antivaxxers were on the left side of the political spectrum!

    Having grown up in Utah (home to the nation’s largest producers of “supplements”, and Orrin Hatch), which is
    hard right and stuffed to the brim with nuts who think the “medical establishment” is “totally wrong”, I’m
    baffled to encounter people that believe antivaxxers, detoxers, and other promoters of So-Called Alternative
    Medicine are mostly leftists. Where, exactly, do people get that bizarre idea?

  37. Reuben

    While I agree with you about vaccinations in general and the awfulness of Fox News, there really doesn’t seem to be much need to get the H1N1 vaccine unless you have other health problems that make getting the flu especially dangerous. H1N1 is no worse than the normal flu and this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion.

  38. 34. Quiet Desperation Says:
    August 27th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Could the smart folken just accept that the whole “Left Versus Right” thing in this country became a real life version of “Spy Versus Spy” from Mad Magazine decades ago, only without less nuance and far less humor?
    ____________

    It’s true – Left and Right are just granfalloons designed to channel people into the mindset of a two-party system. You can’t capture the full depth of political thought with a one-variable continuum. Are people who are simultaneously pro-drug legalization and anti-corporate regulation left or right? Are people who are anti-abortion rights and anti-war left or right?

    It’s a self-reinforcing bias – people identify with one side or the other, then filter out any facts that don’t confirm the assumptions their chosen side has conditioned them to believe.

  39. RL

    I think it’s an incorrect conclusion to say that Fox News and those on the right agree with antivaxxers. This appears to be a poll on a single vaccination and it’s risk. I have seen headlines challenging the safety of the vaccine. Not a surprise that people may be wary. But there is a difference between that and antivaxxers. Maybe more education is needed but that’s all I see here.

  40. Chip

    Fox (Faux) News is “Fair and Balanced” and that’s the problem because the real world is unfair and unbalanced and honest news reporting would reflect that. Accuracy is going to be unfair to somebody. Propaganda, subtle or blatant, or appealing to the lowest common denominator for ratings is always touted as “fair”.

  41. Sean Greenwalt

    I’ve decided to play it safe and get the vaccine while not getting the vaccine. That oughta do it. Or should I get half the dosage? Frankly, I’m torn…

  42. PaulG

    Phil — My guess is that many of the older antivaxxers are probably from the “fluoride is a commie conspiracy” crowd — which was definitely a far right-wing group. Couple that with the general “gub’mint can’t do anything right” mentality of the FoxNews groupie and I suspect you have a complete explanation of the poll results.

  43. MrMarkAZ

    “I can’t help but notice the disclaimer on the bottom: ‘This is not a scientific poll’. Are they bragging?”

    No, they’re being uncharacteristically truthful. That’s surprising.

  44. Joe Bogus

    Please, please, PUH – LEEZ!!!

    I guess the underlying theme here is “bad science”, but can we move ON!?

  45. wourm

    I don’t give credence to any poll that begins with, “Do you think…”

    Because too many respondents don’t.

  46. Scott

    I stopped acknowledging FoxNews a long long time ago.

  47. Savino

    Nope, it´s just a flu.

  48. John

    There used to be news and tabloids such as the National Inquirer. Now it’s all “National Inquirers” with Fox the worst of the lot.

  49. Moose

    I’d have to say undecided. But not for the reason Fox would assume:

    Taking the vaccine is very low risk (and only because it’s a ‘new’ vaccine. A well-understood one, but the human trials aren’t complete as far as I’ve heard.)

    Getting H1N1 isn’t especially risky either*. The ordinary flu strains that rip by every year individually have bigger body counts still.

    * Unless you’re already seriously ill, have limited access to healthcare and sanitation, and/or flat out refuse to get it treated in anything resembling a rational manner.

  50. Zyggy

    Watching FOX for your news is akin to getting medical advice from Jenny McCarthy.

    @24. Mike – FoxNews is #1 at Political PROPAGANDA.

    Exactly. My biggest problem with this is that they refuse to admit that fact, and continue present their party’s OPINIONS as NEWS. Why is it that one can propagate lies on a worldwide news network, as long as it is presented as an “opinion” piece?

    They present it with such regularity and fervor that it causes the Sheeple that watch this (Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly, et al.) drivel to go out and repeat it to their friends. They “spread the word” with the comfort that they “saw it on FOX News, so it must be true”.

    I live in Utah, and I can’t get local news that hasn’t been drenched in religion and conservative overtones. National “news” networks aren’t much better most of the time.

  51. Ron

    The Faux News mentality has produced such memorable things as the sign at a town hall meeting that read “Keep Government Out of Medicare” Or that paranoid grouplet called “birthers”

    The Onion’s take on birthers: http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/afterbirthers_demand_to_see?utm_source=onion_rss_daily

  52. Scott Nutting

    I submitted this post to reddit,com… it could use a little help though… there are plenty of anti-vaxers there. Anyone care to up-vote?

    http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/9eqta/fox_news_wants_to_know_whats_worse_getting_the/

  53. Tom Rhoads

    I like the negative wording of the question.

    You have to admit, Fox News knows how there audience thinks. :)

  54. NewEnglandBob

    Faux News – The first and foremost at inappropriate behavior.

  55. Big Fat Earl

    Exactly. My biggest problem with this is that they refuse to admit that fact, and continue present their party’s OPINIONS as NEWS. Why is it that one can propagate lies on a worldwide news network, as long as it is presented as an “opinion” piece?

    I would ask the exact same thing about CNN, which, as people have stated, doesn’t get the same level of bashing. CNN presents the same thing, except spewed from the mouth of the other party (political cult, really, since that’s what both have become). Bias is a wonderful thing…

  56. Quiet Desperation

    It’s a self-reinforcing bias – people identify with one side or the other, then filter out any facts that don’t confirm the assumptions their chosen side has conditioned them to believe.

    Politics = religion for many. Ideology dissolves skepticism and rationality on contact. It’s a mental disorder.

  57. I'd rather be fishin'

    Not a scientific poll? Then what bloody use is it? I know the three basic types of lies, but this poll makes a mockery of statistics. I guess no one at Fox news would be able to understand any sort of real statistics anyway.

    I was recently in the US on holiday and ran across Glenn Beck on Fox. I thought it was some sort of weird ‘humour’ show; sort of like the Colbert Report. My wife convinced me he was serious.

    My local cable company here in Canada stopped carrying Fox ‘News’ after it made fun of our troops in Afghanistan. This ‘news item’ came only a few days after a Canadian soldier died in action. I knew him, he has a former student of mine.

    The Powers That Be at Fox were probably very proud of the ‘not scientific’ line underneath the poll.

  58. Chipper

    Good golly! One freakin’ news channel with a right-leaning editorial staff. A dozen left-leaning. THAT’s why Fox has higher ratings. All the lefties split their viewership. Admit it, we watch and listen to what we agree with. The intelligent among us read/listen to the opposite viewpoints to see what they have to say. If the other side proves its point – well done! If all it does is name call (like SO many of you in this thread do) that is true simple-mindedness.

  59. If all the smart people take the vaccine and all the wingnuts don’t and die of super flu, then, what are we worried about? :P

  60. @Timechick

    If all the smart people take the vaccine and all the wingnuts don’t and die of super flu, then, what are we worried about?

    The innocents that suffer because of the idiots. In other words, those who have egg allergies, are on immunosuppressants, HIV/AIDS patients, infants too young for the vaccine, etc.

  61. Mark Hansen

    Hey, Ubiquitous, do you post in the astronomy threads at all?

  62. Beagledad

    It never occurred to me that there was an ideology associated with being an antivaxxer. I just thought you had be kind of self-involved, irresponsible, and stupid. Not that I’m calling names or anything. I got my kid his latest round of shots this week. He’s not glad we did it, but I am.

  63. Kimpatsu

    Pharyngulate this poll! Err… BA this poll…
    Oh, you know what I mean. Let’s all go there and vote to change its outcome. PZ has his minions do it all the time.

  64. Jack Mitcham

    I know it’s a small sample size and a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, but the one time I got the flu vaccine was the only time I got the flu in my life. So, I won’t be taking this vaccine, even it it was free, which I’m sure it won’t be.

    I’ll take the small risk of getting the flu over the hassle of getting the shot.

  65. 46. PaulG Says: “My guess is that many of the older antivaxxers are probably from the “fluoride is a commie conspiracy” crowd — which was definitely a far right-wing group”

    Ripper: “I will not stand by and allow Communist subversion, Communist infiltration, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids! You know when fluoridation first started, Mandrake?”

    Mandrake: “No, Jack, I don’t.”

    Ripper: “1946. 1946, Mandrake! How that that fit in with your post-war commie conspiracy?”

    Mandrake: “Good heavens!”

    Ripper: “And did you know there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, sugar, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake! Children’s ice cream!”

    Mandrake: “No!”

    Ripper: “So get over here and feed me [the ammunition belt]. C’mon! Feed me, boy! The Redcoats are coming!”

    – Jack (typed from memory)

  66. McCorvic

    It’s weird how so many comments try to take Phil to task for “bashing” on Fox News or conservatives or whatever. That’s not the point. It’s about the crazy anti-science these people beleive and, in turn, Fox happens to spread more than other cable networks.

    Go to the poll and read the comments people are posting. It’s SCRAY. The total insanity of all these people actually scares me. Not because they watch fox, not because they think Obama has some cray mad scientist scheme, but the total lack of critical thinking and anti-science posion they spew forth.

  67. It seems that some people like Fox news.

    Don’t bother trying to talk any sense to them though. They ban anyone who does not strictly toe their party line. Even if you don’t imply that you’re an atheist, if you mention sites like Talk Origins that they don’t like, you’re gone.

  68. TheoB

    First this: “I try very hard to base my opinions on well-grounded, evidence-based reasoning, and I try very hard not to extrapolate beyond what is reasonable.”

    Then: “Man, it must be easy to work at Fox news.
    Well, not at first. I imagine when they remove most of your brain it might be painful at first, but after that it’s easy enough.”

    Epic fail. Both the reasoning and/or the humor.

  69. martin

    Hey, normally i would take every well-established vaccine that is available but i will pass on this one. I will not play guinea pig for them even if the risk might be low to suffer from any side effects. Here in Germany no one has died from the illness, allmost all cases were very mild and people could stay at home while being ill. In my unscientific guess work i have calculated that the risk of dying from H1N1 is lower than suffer from side effects from the not proper tested vaccine.

    The WHO has not called the H5N1 Virus a pandemic because it did not fit to its standards (i.e. large number of deaths). This year the WHO has changed its standards. the number of dead people is no longer relevant to call out defcon pandemic. Guess who sits at the table when such things are decided – representatives from Glaxo-Smith and Novartis.

    By the new standards almost any illness that effects a large population base can be called a pandemic. So next time they could decide that the common cold or the yearly flu has reached pandemic status and every nation has to buy vaccines or else there people might run out of tissues and drown in a flood of snot.

  70. @Martin

    In my unscientific guess work i have calculated that the risk of dying from H1N1 is lower than suffer from side effects from the not proper tested vaccine.

    See the numbers I crunched above.

    The H1N1 reached pandemic levels well before the WHO declared it such. From what I’ve heard (sorry, no source on this), they delayed declaring a pandemic, as part of such declaration mandates that member nations produce a vaccine.

  71. martin

    @Todd

    …there have been over 182,166 cases of H1N1 reported, with 1,799 deaths worldwide.

    How many of those dead people were already ill from something else or suffering otherwise?

    The reason i am a little bit careful is the recent change in the WHOs standards and also that the representatives of those vaccine producing companies are deciding about the dangerousness of h1n1. Since the vaccine was announced the share price of those companies made a jump upwards. So if you believe like me, that most people are selfish a**h***s, it would be clever to buy shares of those companies before a vaccine is announced to the public, because you know of it beforehand – illegal, so what as long as you are not caught.

    It’s as if Obama knows that he is going to attack some country and buys shares of most defence companies beforehand.

    Let’s just say that i will not be in the first wave of people who get the vaccine, maybe later.

  72. Laurel

    Jack Mitchum: “I’ll take the small risk of getting the flu over the hassle of getting the shot.”

    Really? I’ve only had it twice, but the last time I had “plain old flu,” my temp went up to 105 and I didn’t get out of bed (except to visit the bathroom) for 5 days. I was 22 then, and much sturdier. I’m 44 now. I’ll take the “hassle” of the vaccine over any-sized risk of getting any form of Captain Trips–er, flu–ever again.

    The comment on that poll are amazing. Some folks just love dressing up their racism in pretty new clothes so they can call it something else.

  73. @martin

    Since the vaccine was announced the share price of those companies made a jump upwards. So if you believe like me, that most people are selfish a**h***s, it would be clever to buy shares of those companies before a vaccine is announced to the public, because you know of it beforehand – illegal, so what as long as you are not caught.

    A bit OT, but you say that the share prices jumped after the vaccine was announced, then talk about buying stock before it was announced. I’m not sure what your point is, here.

    As to how many of those deaths had other underlying conditions, I don’t know. The numbers from the WHO only showed the number of cases and the number of deaths. I realize that it is pertinent info to have. That said, however, there is no reason to suspect that the H1N1 vaccine is unsafe. The technology is familiar. It’s following a similar path to the production of seasonal flu vaccines (i.e., just being developed for a new strain, rather than a novel vaccine in its entirety). Safety reporting from the trials so far has not included any adverse reactions other than pain/swelling at the injection site.

    What level of risk would you accept from the vaccine in order to take it?

  74. martin

    The point is, that people from the WHO could know of the vaccine before the announcement of the vaccine. They also know that the label pandemic will make people or nations buy the vaccine like crazy, which will make the share price rize.

    In the case of h1n1, the vaccine should not have any permanent side effects or side effects that are more dangerous than the flu itself.

  75. Nigel Depledge

    Eliterrell (2) said:

    I’m not downplaying the danger of an epidemic…

    Well, not to sound too nitpicky, but you’re using the wrong term if you wish to avoid downplaying the threat. It’s not an epidemic, that would be a mere local / national issue. It’s a pandemic. That means it threatens the whole world.

  76. Nigel Depledge

    Patrick (9) said:

    This poll shows what the view of 18000 Fox viewers is. But what the heck does that have to do with Fox News itself? Blasting Fox for those views is like suing Google for indexing a blog post where you came off as an idiot with a Fox Bashing agenda.

    Did it not occur to you that there is something more subtle at play here?

    Why is Fox asking its viewers, when it is (allegedly) a disseminater of news? Should Fox not, instead of asking its viewers what they think now, first provide some objective, informative news coverage* and then ask its viewers what they think?

    * Latest weather report from Hades is that the temps are dropping fast.

  77. Nigel Depledge

    John W (16) said:

    Taking a fast-track vaccine whose safety and effectiveness can be questioned by reasonable people, versus getting an overhyped strain of flu not much more deadly than the common.

    OK, according to comment #15, the vaccine is neither fast-tracked nor untested.

    It uses existing flu vaccine technology to produce a vaccine specific to the pandemic H1N1 strain. The same thing happens every year – the same technology is used to produce vaccines against the currently-prevalent flu strains.

    What makes this H1N1 different?

    Because it originated in pigs before switching to humans, it carries forms of the viral proteins that the human immune system will not recognise. Normally, with influenza, immunity against one strain (say, H3N2) confers resistance or partial immunity against other strains. But that partial immunity relies on the new strain being closely related to existing strains, to which the person has already been exposed (and against which he/she is therefore immune).

    The main components of the flu virus that are recognised (and attacked) by the human immune system are the surface proteins Haemagluttinin (H) and Neuraminidase (N).

    The new H1N1 strain has (IIUC) a haemagluttinin protein acquired from pigs, so humans are completely unable to fight it.

    As is typical behaviour for a pandemic pathogen, this latest strain of flu started with a wave of very mild infection. Subsequently, in the southern hemisphere’s winter, H1N1 has replaced all of the other strains of flu circulating in the population. This, too, is typical of a pandemic pathogen.

    If the new strain of flu alters just a little bit (which is likely enough, given how rapidly flu viruses evolve) so that it becomes more virulent, it does indeed have the potential to become a global pandemic.

  78. Rift

    I’m in the high risk category for the flu, ANY flu, I’m taking the vaccine because humans are less able to naturally fight off this strain than the yearly normal flu, like Nigel just said. And I have a bad enough time with the seasonal flu. With my asthma, and scar tissue on my lungs from pneumonia, catching the yearly flu is bad enough. Catching H1N1 is a huge fear of mine, and I’m getting the vaccine AS SOON as it is available. I’ve talked to nurses, and my doctors about this and I’m getting it, I don’t care what some silly poll says. The risks can’t be worse than dying…

  79. @martin

    The point is, that people from the WHO could know of the vaccine before the announcement of the vaccine. They also know that the label pandemic will make people or nations buy the vaccine like crazy, which will make the share price rize.

    Okay. But you said the share prices rose after the vaccine was announced. That would suggest that the knowledge beforehand did not slip out to cause buying of stock before the announcement, so nothing illegal there. As to knowing that the label “pandemic” makes people/nations buy vaccines like crazy, it also forces the nation/people to spend money to create the vaccine. In the case of flu, that’s relatively cheap, as other variations of the disease are already known and vaccines already exist. For novel diseases, that would be very expensive and time-consuming. Regardless, the disease still needs to reach a specific level of prevalence (X infections in Y countries) before it can be called a pandemic. And even without including a “deaths caused by disease” requirement in the definition, the WHO still delayed calling it a pandemic. Again, what’s your point?

    In the case of h1n1, the vaccine should not have any permanent side effects or side effects that are more dangerous than the flu itself.

    There is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine has any permanent (or even temporary) effects that are more dangerous, or even the same as, the flu itself. If you have some evidence, though, I’d be happy to hear it.

  80. @Rift

    Thanks for sharing. That’s one of the reasons I plan to get the vaccine (barring any notable AEs coming out of the trials prior to release), even though I’m not in a high risk group. I have friends, however, who are. So, while I might not be particularly susceptible to major complications from the strain (though if it’s anything like the past strains that were worse in healthier populations), my friends are at risk. I don’t want to be a carrier that could spread it to them.

  81. Jack Mitcham

    @#75 Laurel:

    Yes, but I did get the vaccine, and that year I also got the flu. The vaccine clearly didn’t work. I don’t know, maybe it was a different strain of influenza than what I was vaccinated against.

    I was young when I got it… 16 or 17 or so. I remember it wasn’t fun, but in 26 years, I’ve only gotten the flu once. And as I said, I did get the vaccine that year. So, I’m not sure how effective the flu vaccine really is, I don’t think the risk of getting the flu (swine or otherwise) is any real danger, and I don’t want to go through the hassle of paying for a shot.

    Maybe I’m just desensitized to media pandemic scaremongering. First it was west nile virus. Then bird flu. Then SARS. Now swine flu. Wake me up when there’s a real emergency.

  82. I’ve taken other polls (from supposedly reputable organizations) and they put about as much thought into them.

    #84 – The numbers on swine flu are much higher (countries involved and number of people affected) than in the other examples you gave. In a perfect world, new organizations would place such things in context.

  83. I left them a nice little comment to, basically, not listen to each other’s insanity, and go to the CDC website and get the facts themselves. I doubt anyone will bother. All of the comments above and below mine are very anti-vax, including several conspiracy theories, one of which says that doctors are trying to depopulate the world with vaccines. I hadn’t heard that one before.

    http://www.theflucase.com/

  84. Frank M

    well,
    since you decided to play at politics on what I thought was an astronomy site…. I will be leaving now.

    You just lost a reader man. I thought those of us in acedemic circles refused to feed into the dumbing of america; on either side.

    -dissapointed

  85. Michelle

    I love my yearly flu vaccines, cuz I hate the flu.

    Any flu. It doesn’t sound like this h1n1 one is any more dangerous than the other types, but I still don’t want it. *shudders*

    And yes, it doesn’t mean I won’t get the flu… But at least I’m protected against the most common strands of the year!

  86. Laurel

    @Jack Mitcham –There’s been some scaremongering for sure. There have also been some dead people. I think there’s a middle ground between “The media is absolutely trustworthy” and “Nothing the media tries to scare me about will ever happen.” When I want to research this stuff, I turn off the TV and go to science/medical sites I trust.

    So to those more savvy I address the question: Don’t flu shots in general contain killed virus/es? Is it at all possible to get the flu from the vaccine? (Not that Jack is saying that’s what happened, but he seems to think it might be what happened.)

    There are so many varieties of flu that the vaccine is no guarantee, but since it does me no harm, I take it for the chance it will do me good. Also, I live with my elderly mother and I teach. For the good of those around me as well as my own, I’ll be getting the shot.

  87. For some really biased polls, check out the two scans I got that came from the Republican National Committee (and I have a third that I haven’t posted.

    http://members.cox.net/ditto-busters/R2009.htm
    Obama Agenda Survey and
    State of Republican Party Survey

    J/P=?

  88. Mike

    I think this is more a counter-reaction to the H1N1 hysteria than anything else. I don’t want the vaccine either and I’m hardly an anti-vax lunatic.

  89. @Laurel

    Don’t flu shots in general contain killed virus/es?

    I believe you are correct. You cannot get the flu from the flu virus. However, the flu vaccine only contains the three or four strains that researches determine will be the main threats for the season. There’s still a chance of getting some other strain, but you cut your chances of getting the flu by quite a bit by getting the vaccine.

    @Mike

    Why do you not want the vaccine? Just out of curiosity.

  90. Beelzebud

    I think it’s a sweeping generalization to claim that anti-vaxxers are a product of “the left”.

    The most popular website for “the left”, dailykos.com, regularly features stores from their science guy Darksyde that has dealt with the anti-vaxxers head on.

    This isn’t a partisan issue. anti-science comes from all political fields. It’s a bit shortsighted to claim that it’s only a product of “the left”.

  91. Mark Hansen

    One hopes the Academic circles in America that Frank M moves in do not include teaching spelling or grammar. It would be disappointing to learn otherwise.

  92. 91. Phil Plait Says: “Don’t let any electrons hit you on the butt on the way out.”

    Ouch! That’s harsh! Where’s the love, bro?

    – Jack

    PS – :-)

  93. Stuart Van Onselen

    I’m disappointed that any Americans still believe the old “librul meeja” BS, with its “11 left-wing channels and one right-wing”. What they really mean is “11 channels that don’t hate Arabs, Muslims, immigrants and the poor enough and one that does.”

    OK, let’s move beyond the question of bias. How about simple honesty? And yes, hold both sides to that standard. If CNN suddenly produces an Obama birth certificate with “Father: H. Ghost. Father’s Race: Spirit” on it, then call them out!

    And when Fox “accidentally” labels each and every Republican politician who falls from grace with a “D” for Democrat, don’t keep quiet about it because you don’t want “your side” to lose face!

    (Not entirely OT: I suspect that a lot of the problems with American politics come about because you treat your political parties more like sports teams that you will support come hell or high water. And then you treat the other side as “evil” simply because they are “the other side”.)

    (Largely OT: How many Americans are even aware that “Arab” and “Muslim” are not synonymous? That a minority of Arabs are actually Christian, and that a majority of Muslims are non-Arab (e.g. Indian/Pakistani, Malaysian))

  94. Hecalder

    I would like to say no for now, until more results are out, very simple reason, I want answers from NC example, they have had 2 deaths from people with immune compromised health, that were told to put the vaccine on, and they had bad reactions and causing there death, Carolinas medical Center has the issue at this point.. Not blaming the Medical Hospital in Charlotte, NC but why can’t they say what happend? Thanks
    Concerned Citizen for those that already have Health issues,
    PS: they were ok till the vaccine was adminstrated

  95. OK…I’ve read all the jibberish from the uneducated and the semi-educated, and a few of the educated public. Enough Fox bashing. Flu bashing is fine with me. But…don’t make assumptions about what this vaccine is going to do to you or anyone else based on what you THINK or what you have read until you have a sample size of significant quantity to make an educated statement as to whether or not you’ll feel, YUKKY! I have had both the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine, and NO…I never felt YUKKY! And I didn’t get paralysis, mercury poisoning, brain disorders, etc. I am a registered nurse who was exposed to H1N1 and caught the darn bug in the early part of it’s entrance into North Carolina. It didn’t feel good, although I didn’t feel as though I were going to die either. After I got well enough to go back to work, I took the vaccine to ensure that I had enough antibodies to prevent a second exposure. I mean, you never know. So from someone who has had the H1N1 vaccine, and who also has a Masters Degree in Business, and owns a lucrative teaching company, I highly recommend taking this vaccine because your chances of getting very ill with bacterial pneumonia or blood clots secondary to the H1N1 virus is incredibly high, and with either of those you CAN, and VERY POSSIBLY WILL, die! I was just lucky that I didn’t get either, thank GOD! And I work in Charlotte and can say that Hecalder’s information is incorrect regarding any deaths secondary to vaccines. I appreciate your worries, but trust me, you’ll want the immunity over the virus any day. And thanks for allowing me to give you my input.

  96. I located your blog whilst looking for something different on The search engines about topics related to movies, but I got the chance to look over this article and I found it very useful indeed.

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