I wrote this note in response to a post on "Peachhead2," a parents' bulletin board.
"With all due respect to Dr. Gordon's article and his opinion posted [on Peachhead2] I would love to hear [another] doctor's opinion about the H1N1. I talked to a neurologist last week and he mentioned to me the concern being young children and the possibility of being hooked up to a respirator."
It is exactly this kind of absurd, exaggerated rhetoric (not from our Peachheader, but from the doctor she's quoting) that is creating anxiety and fear and making it harder to make an informed intelligent decision.
The possibility of your healthy child "being hooked to a respirator" because of Swine Flu is incredibly small. To imply otherwise is an unintelligent scare tactic.
I am very much aware of children and adults who have suffered severe and even fatal consequences from Swine Flu. You may know someone or, if you're a health care professional, you may be caring for one of those patients. There is no way to minimize how devastating this is. 70-90% of those patients belonged to high-risk groups, and it was for them that the H1N1 vaccine was created. Media and government misinformation may actually lead to fewer of these high-risk children having access to a vaccine they need as they are moved aside by people with better access to medical care.
I believe I have seen dozens of children with Swine Flu. This H1N1 Influenza is uncomfortable, inconvenient and could certainly even be life-threatening to a very, very small number of people. A doctor implying that it's actually an extremely dangerous part of this or any other winter is doing a disservice to you and the community. Many other (non-vaccinable) illnesses pose a far greater threat. And even they should not keep you away from your usual life's schedule. A related worry is that the community's focus on Swine Flu might lead to a missed diagnosis of other febrile winter illnesses.
The vaccine is not dangerous but will cause harm to a tiny percentage of those who receive it.
(Youtube videos circulating and scary vaccine-reaction stories are not a fair characterization of the facts.)
The illness will also cause harm to a tiny percentage of those who contract it.
Declaring this a "national emergency" while vaccines are not even available to 99% of people was ill-advised to say the least.
I have practiced medicine through the era of polio, HIB meningitis, and much more. I've diagnosed two cases of botulism, one case of diphtheria decades ago and cared for patients with tetanus. I have seen hundreds of children and families survive pertussis -- with no whooping cough fatalities in thirty years of practice. I have hospitalized children with RSV many winters in a row. For doctors and the government to imply that we have a dangerous pandemic on our hands distorts the entire community's approach to health care, scares people and, yes, the anxiety provoked is causing more medical problems than the disease itself.
Below is an interesting new article about the European flu shot. An adjuvant is a chemical which "jump starts" or irritates the immune system and causes it to respond to a smaller amount of actual vaccine. This saves money for the manufacturer and also "stretches" the vaccine supply. There may be unintended consequences to creating that much irritation/inflammation in the immune system and in the entire body.
This journal article addresses this topic. The American H1N1 vaccine does not contain an adjuvant at the present time, but the president's declaring a "national emergency" may allow the addition of the chemical discussed in the article.
Med Microbiol Immunol. 2009 Oct 23.
Bhakdi S, Lackner K, Doerr HW. Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University Medical Center, Augustusplatz, 55101, Mainz, Germany, email@example.com.
Programs for vaccination against the new influenza A/H1N1 targeting many hundred million citizens in Europe and the USA are to be launched in the fall of this year. The USA is planning to employ a non-adjuvanted vaccine, whereas European nations are opting for inclusion of MF59, the adjuvant contained in an alternative seasonal flu vaccine, or the related adjuvant AS03 that is contained in a recently developed H5N1 vaccine. We draw attention to unappreciated hazards of using adjuvanted vaccine in Europe. Evidence from animal experiments in conjunction with clinical epidemiological data indicates that, quite irrespective of cause, stimulation of the immune system may accelerate atherogenesis. Application of adjuvanted flu vaccines to individuals at risk may therefore aggravate the course of underlying atherosclerotic vessel disease with all the clinical consequences. The same may hold true for other widespread diseases that are propelled by deregulated immune mechanisms. Safety trials conducted to date have not specifically taken these possible side effects into account, and unexpected serious adverse effects thus may follow in the wake of a general vaccination program. A prudent consequence would be to establish careful survey systems alongside with mass application of new adjuvanted vaccines, or to hold mass vaccination in reserve for use only in situations of true need, such as would arise with the emergence of a more virulent new H1N1 virus strain, or to use non-adjuvanted vaccines in individuals who are potentially at risk for adverse side effects.
PMID: 19851782 [PubMed -- as supplied by publisher]
This is not a discussion of vaccine safety, autism or similar issues. This is a discussion of medical honesty and integrity.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more