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.
October 24, 2004
“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 defences. 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 research director at Consumer Policy Institute. To contact, e-mail: LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com.