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Flu vaccine shortage, crisis

or needless panic?

       Not unlike Henny Penny running to warn everyone within earshot that the sky was falling, all the media are taking every opportunity to warn us of the flu vaccine "crisis" as

if the virus were indeed about to rain down upon us.

        This media induced "crisis" fueled  by  the commercial and government health industry has caused people to panic.  "Thousands line up in desperate bid for flu vaccine," read one head-line. Those of an age that makes them eligible for one of the available doses have been lining up in the wee small hours of the morning hoping to be at the head of the line to receive one of a finite number of shots to be administered later in the day. 

       Tragically, one woman, weakened from standing in line for five hours, died after falling and hitting her head.   A number of others were hospitalized after collapsing while waiting in line.

       One doctor arranged to fly to Canada hoping to be able to buy enough vaccine to inoculate his patients.

       The problem is more a media induced panic than a crisis, however.  Sherri J Tenpenny, DO, an internationally recognized vaccine researcher estimated that the actual number of US deaths from flu last year was less than 175 in contrast to the Centers for Disease Control's report of 36,000. (Presumably, this discrepancy arose from whether a death was attributed to flu or a pre-existing  cause.)

       Print and TV reports do not usually point out that the composition of flu vaccines is  largely determined by a guessing game to predict  which strains of the flu virus are most likely to emerge during the next year's "flu season".

       So far, as of October 26, the few cases that have occurred  here in the US have been attributed to last year's dominant A/Fujian strain of the virus against which this year's vaccine is targeted.  Flu viruses are forever changing, however, and the A/Wellington strain has been responsible for most cases in New Zealand.  A/Wellington has also appeared in Norway.  We won't know until after the fact which strain will infect the most people during the coming flu season in the northern hemisphere.   

       The frantic media reports do not  warn us that flu vaccines contain toxic mercury, aluminum, and phenol (aka carbolic acid, a disinfectant) or that flu vaccines have caused myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) in some people.  According to Charles Shepherd, MD, "A vaccination mimics the effects of a viral infection, so it is not surprising that  it can have the same effect."  Shepherd,  medical advisor to the ME Association, is not opposed to vaccinations in general, however. 

       Because they are designed to place stress on the immune system, vaccines  can cause illness in persons who happen to be harboring a disease agent, such as an entero virus, that is being held in check by their immune systems. This has led many people who became ill after a flu shot to deduce that the shot  gave  them the flu.  Others, who suffered over a longer period of time, years in some cases, have been diagnosed with ME.

       It will be interesting to see what effect a decrease in the number of flu shots will have on the number of flu cases in the coming months UNLESS the threat of an avian influenza pandemic similar to the "Spanish flu"  that killed over 20 million (Estimates range as high as 50 million.) people around the world in 1918 should materialize.

       The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu virus  has killed 32 people in Asia (as well as a clouded leopard and 23 tigers in a Thai zoo who were fed chicken).  In the case of a mother caring for a sick child, there even appears to have been "probable" human-to human transmission.   Health authorities are  concerned  that the virus could mutate and become more easily transmissible from birds to humans and, worse yet, from human to human.       

      Humans are not usually susceptible to bird viruses.   In 2003, however, 1000 people in the Netherlands were infected with the less virulent H7N7 strain of the virus  which infected workers in the poultry industry and was transmitted to other family members.

       Another human case was identified in British Columbia, this time the less lethal (for humans) H7N3 strain of the virus.  Despite the use of protective clothing, it occurred in a worker engaged in removing infected chickens from a chicken factory.  In this case, 365,000 chickens were killed to prevent the outbreak from spreading.

       In the 1918 pandemic, the virus is thought to have been transmitted to humans through pigs.  The fact that chickens and other fowl are commonly raised in proximity with pigs in Asia is additional cause for concern because humans are more susceptible to pig diseases than those of birds.  Over 100 million domesticated fowl were reported to have died or been culled in Asia by March and the slaughter is stepped up every time the disease breaks out again.  Every single chicken was killed in Hong Kong when the disease broke out there, for example.

        If the worst case scenario, if an H5N1 avian flu pandemic affecting humans should develop and reach the United Sates, it is all too likely to be attributed in the public mind to the vaccine shortage even though this year's vaccine is not designed to resist the H5N1 strain of flu.   This would be unfortunate, not only for the increased illness and loss of life, but because it would interfere with a an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of  flu vaccinations. 

        In any case, people disturbed by the media hype who are unable to get vaccinated can take comfort that they will be avoiding another dose of toxins to add to the load they are already carrying.

Various sources, including AP reports and  newsletters from National Vaccine Information Center, Chet Day's Health and Beyond, and Mercola Newsletter

COMMENT: Both the manufacturers and the FDA test  vaccines on animals but, as always, because of interspecies differences, the first humans to receive the first doses of a new drug or vaccine are the ultimate test animals.  Animal testing did not warn of possible ME infection.

Skin injection more effective than

the customary muscle injection

    Researchers at the Iomai Corporation found that injecting one-fifth the normal flu vaccine dose into the skin of the upper arm resulted in antibody levels as high or higher as a normal dose injected into muscle.  This experiment was conducted on 100 men and women between the ages of 18 and 40.

    A second study at St Louis University sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline got similar results using two-fifths of the normal dose.  This study included a group of 130 volunteers over 60.  In this group, the lower dose was less effective in one of the three strains tested.

    One of the study's conductors, Gregory M Glenn , noted that only 30 to 50 percent of the elderly who get vaccinated in the normal way develop full protective immunity (emphasis added) and that "even a modest improvement would have a big impact on morbidity and mortality of the flu." -  Science News, November 13, 2004

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The Civil Abolitionist

         Autumn 2004  v.15 no. 2


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