Is the flu vaccine the next bad drug?
by Dr. Madeline Behrendt, D.C.
Each winter the flu intrudes into our lives. But beyond fever and chills, this villain virus generates media, money and mayhem.
With flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plan “The Seven-Step Recipe for Generating Interest in and Demand for Flu Vaccines” creates a massive pro-vaccine media campaign each year. In a single week last September, 1,026 media messages were broadcast or published, including “this could be the worst flu season ever,” “the flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu” and “flu season kills 36,000 per year.” But what evidence is there to back up this scare that produces long lines of frightened souls hoping to score dwindling doses of vaccine? Are they effective or even safe? And, when vaccine manufacturers routinely report seasonal revenues upward of $500 million, are there financial incentives for product safety?
The nearly 5,000 flu vaccine-related autism injury cases currently pending in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims suggest negative answers to these questions. According to Barbara Loe Fisher, former consumer member of the FDA Vaccines Advisory Committee (1999 to 2003) and cofounder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), “Many of the world’s most highly vaccinated children are contracting far fewer infections in childhood but are growing up chronically ill with various kinds of brain and immune system dysfunction.” She adds, “Government health officials and the American Academy of Pediatrics put out an Autism Alarm to the public announcing … a stunning 200 to 7,000 percent increase in autism in every state over the past two decades.”
The government’s vaccine risk assessment database, the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), recently detected a statistical link between vaccines containing the mercury-laced preservative thimerosal, a neurotoxin, and developmental and behavior disorders, including but not limited to autism. But this information was withheld from the public. Fisher started a petition to allow full access to the VSD by independent researchers, and almost 10,000 people signed immediately.
Fisher also links vaccinations to 3 million learning disabled schoolchildren; 4 million with ADHD; 9 million with asthma; 300,000 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; and 1 in 400 to 500 with diabetes.
Senior citizens may also be negatively affected by flu shots. According to immogeneticist Dr. Hugh Fudenberg, M.D., individuals who received five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 are ten times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who received zero, one or two shots.
But the number of injuries may be even greater, as doctors can refuse to report adverse effects and face no consequences. And even when a link can be proven, vaccine manufacturers are not liable. Since the flu vaccine was added to the federal vaccine compensation program in 1986, those injured by vaccines now face the federal government, which is defended by the Department of Justice. Beyond the side effects, the question remains as to whether the flu vaccine is actually effective enough to be worth the risks. Last season 82,000,000 people were vaccinated in the United States, but according to NVIC “only 3 to 14 percent of those who got vaccinated were protected against the flu.” WebMD adds that in a Denver hospital, “people who got vaccinated were just as likely to get flu-like symptoms as those who didn’t get the vaccine.” And Morbidity and Mortality Weekly reports the vaccine had “no or low effectiveness” against flu-like illness.
Like a muscle, immunity must be developed. Infectious agents stimulate an inflammatory response, which signals the production of antibodies. The antibodies then resolve the inflammation, and healing begins to take place. But according to British Medical Journal, when vaccines artificially manipulate immunity, the natural immune response may be compromised. For example, Haemophilus influenzae type b infection rates are now higher than they were before the vaccine program was introduced. The reason, according to researchers, is that reduced exposure to the disease means antibody levels or “natural” immunity, are no longer being boosted. When the disease begins to rise once again, many victims are less equipped to fight the infection.
Parents are pushing back by becoming educated about legal exemptions for school admittance. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that 93 percent of physicians reported at least one parental vaccine refusal in their practice in the past year. Typically, 80 to 90 percent of Americans don’t get the flu each year. Although flu strains vary the body’s defense is the same: a strong immune system. Those looking to augment immune function through non-vaccine measures may find relief through natural (alternative) health care including homeopathic remedies or chiropractic care.
In recent years, doctors and pharmaceutical companies have encouraged millions of Americans to partake in the magical powers of Fen Phen, hormone replacement therapy, Ephedrine and Vioxx, among others, only to later learn that the miracle drugs are quite dangerous drugs with life-threatening side effects. Beyond the hype, is the flu vaccine the next bad drug?
 comments (81 views) |
As we mandated more and more vaccines with thimerosal without adding up the total mercury exposure, babies were receiving 40 to 60 times the EPA limits for mercury. At the same time, autism rates in the United States in one decade went from 1/10,000 to 1/166.
Autistic children often share similar traits. Interestingly, the symptoms of mercury poisoning and autism are identical. The rate of autism in California increased 300 percent in a decade during the 1990s. But after voluntarily removing thimerosal from children’s vaccines, they’ve seen three-consecutive quarters with 35 percent reductions in the autism rate. This is the first time ever that
California’s numbers have been declining.
Califormia has now banned thimerosal in children’s vaccines, as Iowa has also done. Yesterday, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control, told a congressional hearing that, at best, the preservative may be eliminated from the vaccine by 2009. FIVE YEARS ago the American Academy of Pediatrics and the federal health agencies urged drug manufacturers to remove thimerosal. AND NOW, it’s still going to another FIVE YEARS to do it?
That’s hardly oversight by the CDC. It’s more like rubber-stamping. With over 700 waivers for conflicts of interest for people in our health agencies, who also work for drug companies, it’s easy to see why they’re in no hurry.
Anne McElroy Dachel
Chippewa Falls, WI
Clarification: The 5000 autism cases pending in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program are not suspected to be related to the flu vaccine but to thimerosal, a mercury based preservative used in vaccines. The flu vaccine was only recently recommended for universal use for children and so has only been recently added to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
National Vaccine Information Center
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
October 16, 2004
'Dire' CDC warnings hiked flu shot demand
Alarming demand for flu shots
By Mark Benjamin
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Washington, DC, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A top spokesman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last April told doctors that emphasizing "alarm" and "dire outcomes" from the flu increased demand for flu shots, according to an outline of his presentation reviewed by United Press International. That official -- outlining for doctors what he called a "recipe" for increasing demand -- said that "heightened concern, anxiety and worry" drove demand for flu shots. The presentation reminded doctors that the flu arrives "in cities and communities with significant media outlets," including newspapers and television stations.
Glen Nowak, now the CDC's acting director of media relations, delivered the presentation at an April meeting of the American Medical Association. It includes a section titled, "'Recipe' that Fosters Higher Interest and Demand for Influenza Vaccine," according to presentation materials. The recipe
includes "framing of the flu season in terms that motivate behavior (e.g., as 'very severe,' 'more severe than last or past years,' 'deadly')."
Nowak, who was at that time the CDC's associate director of communications for the National Immunization Program, told UPI Wednesday that he was analyzing factors that increased demand during the 2003-2004 flu season, not coaching scare tactics to increase demand for flu vaccine.
"Recipe is in quotation marks" in the presentation, Nowak said. "People wanted to know what was learned in the 2003-2004 vaccination season. It is a look backward as to how demand was created." Nowak said flu shots are an important part of preventing flu, which can be deadly. CDC officials have expressed concern at low rates of vaccination among some risk groups. The recipe is in a section of the presentation titled "Getting Ready for 2004-2005: Lessons (Re-) Learned [Including the Seven-Step Recipe for Generating Interest in, and Demand for, Flu (or any other) Vaccination]."
A vaccine safety advocate said the CDC's rhetoric does not match the risk from flu.
"We have known for several years that the CDC is employing behaviorists and communications specialists to instill fear and anxiety in the public about infectious diseases in order to promote mass vaccination. But the rhetoric about flu risks has been especially over the top," said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, which does not take money from vaccine manufacturers.
"The public is not being well-served by federal health officials who use deceptive propaganda techniques to panic people into standing in lines to get flu vaccine rather than tell them the real truth about flu risks as well as vaccine risks."
An unexpected shortfall in vaccines this year -- combined with strong demand or the vaccines -- has left scores of the elderly waiting in line for flu vaccinations. British health authorities Oct. 5 shut down Chiron Corp.'s flu vaccine plant in Liverpool, barring nearly 50 million doses from the U.S. market. Press reports cite concern over contamination.
When discussing flu shots, the CDC's director has said that boosting vaccine manufacturers' profits would improve reliable vaccine supplies. "There have been many evaluations of why our vaccine manufacturing capability is becoming increasingly limited," CDC Director Julie Gerberding said at an Oct. 12 press conference. "One of the major reasons is that the manufacturers are leaving the market. Obviously, if there was a profit to be made, they would be in the market." A presentation on flu vaccines by manufacturer Aventis Pasteur at the same conference last April says: "Demand for influenza vaccine drives increased supply. Steady, predictable annual increases in demand will ensure increased capacity to meet immunization goals."
The CDC last flu season targeted for flu vaccinations people over age 65 and people with certain chronic medical conditions. This year, the CDC also recommended that children under age 2 get vaccinated. Nowak's presentation last April also discusses people in age groups 18-49.
Twice in Nowak's presentation he cites the threat to children, noting that "visible/tangible examples of the seriousness of the illness (e.g., pictures of children)" was part of the recipe that increased demand for flu shots. The CDC received reports of 152 flu deaths among children during the 2003-2004 flu season. It says it is unclear whether that number is high or low. "The answer to this question is not known," a CDC statement says. "Because the number of influenza deaths in children has not been tracked before, it's not possible to compare the number of deaths in children this year with previous years."
Each year, the CDC tries to anticipate the strain of flu that will hit the United States and provides a seed virus to manufacturers. Last year, the vaccine did not match the flu virus. In January, the CDC released a fact sheet stating that in an initial study, "the 2003-2004 influenza vaccine was not effective or had a very low effectiveness against 'influenza-like illness'" in one group of health care workers. The CDC said that study does not prove that the vaccine was totally ineffective.
In his CDC presentation on increasing demand for flu shots, Nowak used as a good example a statement by the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Greg Poland about the risk of flu last season. In an article headlined, "Mayo Clinic official predicts worst flu season in 30 years," Poland told USA Today last November, "This will probably be the worst flu season we've had in several decades. My guess is that we'll be in the 50,000 to 70,000 deaths this year due to this strain."
The CDC said that states are not required to report deaths from flu, but that a data analysis indicated that the percentage of people who died from pneumonia or flu last year "was higher than the epidemic threshold for nine consecutive weeks."
The CDC's "Questions and Answers" about the flu, available on its Web site, says that "flu seasons are unpredictable...Before a flu season begins, it is not possible to accurately predict the features of any season."
National Post October 22/2004 Vaccine fevers by Lawrence Solomon
Americans are being told that a manufacturing problem in a U.K. pharmaceutical plant has led to the U.S. shortage of flu vaccines. Americans aren't being told (and we aren't either) that the real manufacturer at fault is a U.S. government agency, the Centers for Disease Control, along with the World Health Organization and other vaccinate-anything-that-moves ideologues that have fabricated a phony crisis over the flu vaccine. "Epidemics of influenza typically occur during the winter months and are responsible for an average of approximately 20,000 deaths," the CDC stated in 2002. That number mutated to "36,000 flu-related deaths" in November, 2003, and by December a gathering of public health officials warned that the toll could reach 70,000 this year.
In concert with the ramp-up in death statistics, the government-steered vaccination industry has run an elaborate bureaucracy designed to hype vaccine use, as seen in a slide show presentation last April by Glen Nowak, the CDC's spokesman for the National Immunization Program, to the American Medical Association. Here is the "Recipe that fosters influenza vaccine interest and demand," in the truncated language that appears on his slides: "Medical experts and public health authorities [should] publicly (e.g. via media) state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes) – and urge influenza vaccination." This "recipe," the slide show indicated, would result in "A. Significant media interest and attention [and] B. Framing of the flu season in terms that motivate behaviour (e.g. as 'very severe,' 'more severe than last or past years,' 'deadly')." Other aspects of the CDC's "Seven-Step Recipe for Generating Interest in, and Demand for, Flu (or any other) Vaccination" includes "Continued reports (e.g., from health officials and media) that influenza is causing severe illness and/or affecting lots of people – helping foster the perception that many people are susceptible to a bad case of influenza." and "Visible/tangible examples of the seriousness of the illness (e.g., pictures of children, families of those affected coming forward) and people getting vaccinated (the first to motivate, the latter to reinforce)."
This motivational slide show was designed to push the bounds of the vaccinated. Where once only at-risk populations were targeted – chiefly the elderly – the vac-crats now aspire to vaccinate the healthy. In the 2002-2003 flu season, the last for which the CDC has reliable numbers, almost 21 million healthy Americans between the ages of two and 64 were vaccinated. The unabashed goal of the vaccination ideologues is universal vaccination, starting with the universal vaccination of children. Because vaccinations in the United States, as in Canada, are generally a pre-condition of admittance into the school system, children make easy prey for the vaccine totalitarians. The U.S. government, in fact, spends more than US$1-billion a year – 55% of the entire childhood vaccine market – to purchase childhood vaccines for poor and uninsured children.
But doesn't all this vaccinating save countless lives at virtually no risk? In truth, no one knows, because the studies haven't been done, even in the case of highly sensitive childhood vaccinations. During the last flu season, for example, the CDC received reports of 152 flu deaths among children. Is this high or is this low?
"The answer to this question is not known," the CDC stated. "Because the number of influenza deaths in children has not been tracked before, it's not possible to compare the number of deaths in children this year with previous years."
As for evidence of the efficacy of flu vaccinations in the general population, again, the CDC is operating in the dark. When asked last year if annual follow-ups were performed to determine if the vaccine was effective, the CDC's Nancy Cox, chief of its influenza branch, admitted, "There is no systematic follow-up to see, to document whether the general population who receives a flu vaccine is infected by a flu virus, because it's an impossible task. I mean, we have 80 million doses or 70 million doses given and it would be impossible to follow up." To add to the futility of even trying, Dr. Cox explained that most cases of flu-like illnesses – about 80% – in fact are caused by "many other pathogens."
The bottom line on the medical benefit of flu shots for healthy people? No one knows. The benefit is entirely a matter of faith among the true believers in the vaccination bureaucracy. The bottom line on the medical harm caused by flu vaccines? Again, no one knows. Various studies do raise concerns, however. One year ago, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences found weak evidence that the flu vaccine triggers neurological disorders, and the IOM's immunization safety review committee also found that other studies, based on poor data and poor methodologies, do not give vaccines a clean bill of health. Said the committee's chairman: "The possibility that neurological disorders might be related to vaccines must be given serious consideration."
New flu vaccines, such as those made from live viruses, pose new types of risks since the vaccines themselves could become unintended disseminators of the flu. Because some 80% of recipients of this type of vaccine shed it to the environment, doctors are advised to avoid prescribing it to those in close contact with at-risk populations, such as those who have compromised immune systems.
The biggest risk of all from flu vaccines, however, may come from weakening the human body's natural defenses. If children are inoculated against the flu as babies, they will never develop the strong, natural immunities they will need to fend off new strains, making them dependent on the vaccine industry's ability to stay ahead of ever-mutating viruses. Last year's experience with the dreaded A/Fujian flu provides a chilling scenario. When a vaccine for this flu proved difficult to mass-produce in time for the annual flu season, the World Health Organization, under pressure to do something, gave labs around the world the go-ahead to produce an alternate vaccine, for a different strain of flu, likely to be of little value. As expected, the vaccine proved to have almost no value, although the countless people around the world who lined up for it didn't know that at the time. Fortunately, people had natural defenses, which are far more potent and longer-lived than vaccines, to protect them. In future, a population vaccinated from the cradle that had never fought off the flu on its own could be highly vulnerable.
Without the international medical bureaucracy that now controls the vaccine industry and annually whips up public fears, sometimes to the point of public panic, the demand for vaccines would fall to a fraction of current levels. Without other government intervention – everything from industry subsidies to an unhealthy bias in what research government will and will not fund – vaccine safety would be improved, the science would not be dominated by ideologues tilting toward universal vaccination and the demand for flu vaccines would fall further still, to more closely correspond to the real, not hyped, public needs. There would be no crisis.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Toronto-based Energy Probe Research Foundation. www.Urban-Renaissance.org