Swine flu fact check

Part of prepping is being smart. Educating yourself with existing knowledge and acquiring the skills to accurately and quickly secure and evaluate future information is critical for survival. Preppers should be leaders. People will look to you in an emergency for leadership and direction. Many people already do. As we work to help people understand the importance of prepping, it is crucial that we do it in a way that is not only sincere, but honest. Using scare tactics is not the right approach.

While stories of fear and death may motivate someone in the short term, its effects will not last and will not produce the change of lifestyle required for someone to truly be prepared. Being seen as a conspiracy theorist and a radical nut-job will also not help your efforts to convert friends and family, or worse, progress towards larger efforts for larger subjects nationally and across the world. Regardless of what you believe, where you stand, or which way you lean politically, your actions contribute to the perceived image of a prepper. Whether it’s individual rights, big-brother, small government, war, or the current battle over health care, the way you contribute to the conversation has a dramatic effect over the conversation.

Speaking out is important but not if your words produce a negative effect. Even if you are trying to encourage people to believe something, to wake up and see the urgency and importance of political, preparedness, or economic issues currently at hand, simply presenting your message is not enough. Saying it eloquently is not enough. You have to know what you are talking about. Brains always beats brawn. Strategy and wits always win over force and forgery. Smear campaigns, fear, uncertainty, and doubt are for those that are afraid, not those that are certain in their convictions.

Understandably, there is a lot of talk circulating the internet about swine flu. Pandemics cycle every twenty to thirty years and we are well due for another. While the actual results of the flu have yet to be catastrophic, the speed at which this strain has spread is to be noted. Unfortunately however, there has been a significant amount of rumors, assumptions, half-truths, and even lies spread about the outbreak. It’s understandable that people are scared and that issues related to health and even death are sensitive topics, but it is paramount that we do our part at distinguishing between fact and fiction and helping the community to prepare mentally and physically for what may come.

In the paragraphs that follow, I would like to address several rumors and lies about swine flu (and vaccines in general) currently circulating.

“The swine flu vaccine being developed is based off of Tamiflu and Tamiflu is known to cause serious side effects in children.”

I have searched and searched for any proof that the swine flu vaccine is based off of Tamiflu and have found nothing to substantiate this. Everywhere I have read it has also contained no source for the claim.

“The swine flu vaccination program in the seventies caused paralysis and death!”

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is not unique to vaccinations. In fact, there is a rate of occurence of .75 – 2 out of 100,000 annually in the U.S. In one half to two-thirds of those cases a cold or a gastrointestinal bug proceed the onset of the syndrome. Although the specific cause of GBS has not been identified, it is highly speculated that it is caused by exposure to viruses of many kinds. Not to minimize the effects of this syndrome (as they can be serious), with proper treatment, most gain full recovery. But please note that the flu is a virus and, according to what researchers speculate causes GBS, potentially could initiate a case of GBS in and of itself. (Medical/Surgical Nursing, Black and Hawke, 7th edition, pgs 2181-2182.)

While it is true that 500 cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome were reported following the 1976 swine flu vaccination program and there were 25 deaths, the odds with the vaccine are definitely in your favor. The CDC reports that an average of 36,000 people die each your from the flu in the United States. The number was last updated in 2008. If we adjust for the population in 1976 of 218,035,164, then we can assume that there should have been approximately 26,000 deaths from the flu that year. So, with the vaccine, you stood a 1 in 264,285 chance of dying, but without it you stood a 1 in 8,385 chance of dying anyway. And, the swine flu was a pandemic and not the seasonal flu, so it’s probably even safe to assume that those numbers are conservative.

Additionally, what if the CDC’s numbers are inflated as some believe? The death rate would have to be as low as a meager 1,000 for the ratio to break even. The claim is that out of the 36,000 deaths, only about 250 were the flu and the remaining were pneumonia. I believe the division of statistics between pneumonia and flu to be short-cited however since they are only counting the terminating cause of death. The flu is a respiratory illness. Pneumonia is usually a secondary illness to another cause. Influenza was likely the primary infection in those cases, with progression to pneumonia. Yes, in the end the final diagnosis would be pneumonia. However, the trip getting there was by means of a catalyst, in this case influenza.

“More people have died from the flu vaccine than the flu itself since the flu of 1918.”

I have searched and searched and found nothing to validate this claim. Even if in a particular year there were more deaths do to side effects from the vaccine, the statistic would be worthless since it is impossible to account for all of the potential deaths that could have occurred without vaccination.

“Vaccines cause autism in children.”

There is an ongoing accusation that vaccines cause autism in children and that there is a secret movement by the government and the drug companies to hide evidence. Some of the source for this controversy is due to a council that was held in 2000 where a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten presented a report that he had compiled which proved the ill effects of vaccines. It turns out however that he faked the data, as reported here, here, and here. A federal court also ruled in February that vaccines were not to blame for autism and that the evidence was “weak, contradictory and unpersuasive. The substantial consensus of scientists and doctors also says something; you can’t have that many people in on a conspiracy.

While there are those that still choose to believe this, I believe that it is foolish. As Matt Lambie wrote: “Unfortunately, autism traditionally strikes children between the ages of one and two. It’s around this time that a bunch of vaccinations are typically administered. For about the last decade parents that needed to blame something for their children’s illness sought refuge in attacking “big pharma.” Hopefully this will stop now that the main proponent of this disinformation has been proven completely and absolutely fraudulent.”

“The swine flu vaccine has not been properly tested and the pharmaceutical companies have no reason to properly test them since they have been granted immunity by the government.”

While I don’t agree with a blanket immunity for the vaccine manufactures, how is the immunity for the current swine flu any different from the immunity covering all of the other vaccines administered these past three decades? People mention the “history of side effects,” but without details and documentation I’m going to have to call their error once again, citing the statistics and odds I provided above.

“The WHO and the U.S. government are going to make the vaccination mandatory.”

There is no proof that they are planning on or even considering making the vacine mandatory. I have searched and searched for any proof of this and have found none. You may believe it and you are entitled to, but state that it is your opinion. Everywhere I have read it has also contained no source for the claim besides other sites without sources.

“The vaccine contains known dangerous components.”

Several sites have published lengthy lists of chemicals that are supposedly being “cooked up” in the vaccine and mention how these drugs are used in everything from crop dusting to birth control with side effects that are leaving women sterile. The ingredients are not unique to the swine flu vaccine. They are found in all vaccines (in various combinations and quantities). You have to take into consideration the quantities, purpose, and application of each of these however. Of course they are going to be toxic in levels large enough to dust crops. Carrots would probably even give you cancer if you that’s all you ate. Remember: “moderation in all things.” I’m not saying that vaccines are without risk, but once again, consider the statistics and odds I provided above.

“The vaccine manufacturers could not produce an accurate vaccine because the current strain is still evolving and is resistant to existing vaccinations.”

Every strain of flu is continually evolving and resistant to the vaccinations of previous years. This is the reason that the flu vaccine is not as effective as other vaccines (such as Polio) and why they have to rush it to market so quickly. This is also the reason that the strain that the U.S. seasonal flu vaccine is built from is based off of what is occurring in Australia, as their seasons are mismatched from ours and it gives us a little bit of a head-start.

“The current swine flu vaccine is being based off of the 1918 Spanish Flu.”

This claim requires a little common sense applied. Why would researchers use a strain of flu that is not the currently circulating flu, when it is certainly much easier to get a sample of the current flu virus?

“Drug companies, such as Baxter, somehow knew about the 2009 swine flu a year in advance, as evident by a patent filing for a vaccine preceding the outbreak.”

The claim that Baxter knew about the virus before it manifested itself is silly. The only thing that I can figure people are basing this claim on is that the word H1N1 is found within the text of the patent. The term H1N1 refers to a subtype of influenza A however and is not unique to this year’s flu. Some strains of H1N1 are endemic in humans and cause a small fraction of all influenza-like illness and a large fraction of all seasonal influenza. And “H1N1” will therefore also refer to all pandemics of said subtype, such as the Russian flu of 1889-1890, the Spanish flu of 1918, and the Swine flu of 1976.

In conclusion, I am not proposing that there are no risks associated with vaccinations. I personally have not had a flu shot in many years, but I am very healthy and in my prime. I do believe that the world is a better place because of the medical advancements that we have been blessed with however and family members that are ill, the seniors I love, and my children will most assuredly continue to receive regular vaccinations. Many of us would not be here today due to polio alone were it not for these great medicines. It is up to each of us to decide whether we choose to take the vaccine, but please do your homework and base your decisions on sound logic, and valid research.

14 thoughts on “Swine flu fact check”

  1. Here is another fact check:

    I’ve seen it reported in several places that all h1n1 vaccines will contain Thimerosal. In fact, the manufacturer has reported that they will be making both a thimerosal and and thimerosal-free vaccine. See link below.

    From ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/SwineFluNews/Story?id=8206167&page=1)

    “The anticipation is that we will be producing both a thimerosal-free and a vaccine containing thimerosal. . . (T)here will likely be enough doses of thimerosal-free vaccine for very young children whose parents fear that the chemical will have some negative effect. Taking such steps, he said, may further ensure than those who need this important vaccine will receive it.”

  2. Here is another fact check:

    I’ve seen it reported in several places that all h1n1 vaccines will contain Thimerosal. In fact, the manufacturer has reported that they will be making both a thimerosal and and thimerosal-free vaccine. See link below.

    From ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/SwineFluNews/Story?id=8206167&page=1)

    “The anticipation is that we will be producing both a thimerosal-free and a vaccine containing thimerosal. . . (T)here will likely be enough doses of thimerosal-free vaccine for very young children whose parents fear that the chemical will have some negative effect. Taking such steps, he said, may further ensure than those who need this important vaccine will receive it.”

  3. Manufacturing of a Thimerosal-free version of the influence vaccine was begun in 2002 and approved in December of 2004. It has been available as the single-dose option since then and is available to anyone that orders it. The multi-dose vials are cheaper, so you might have to shop around if your doctor does not have it on hand.

    Another option to consider is the new FluMist® product (a nasal spray) as it also does not contain Thimerosal and is non-evasive.

  4. Manufacturing of a Thimerosal-free version of the influence vaccine was begun in 2002 and approved in December of 2004. It has been available as the single-dose option since then and is available to anyone that orders it. The multi-dose vials are cheaper, so you might have to shop around if your doctor does not have it on hand.

    Another option to consider is the new FluMist® product (a nasal spray) as it also does not contain Thimerosal and is non-evasive.

  5. Thank you, when I visit other prepper sites I cringe at the misinformation spread about the flu and other things. Thank you.

  6. Thank you, when I visit other prepper sites I cringe at the misinformation spread about the flu and other things. Thank you.

  7. One point of correction: Drug manufacturer liability for injuries/ problems with flu vaccines IS different with “swine flu” (H1N1 flus) than with “normal flu”.
    Public Law 94-380 went into effect October 1, 1976 with the government taking all liability for swine flu vaccines BUT also not allowing the manufacturer to make any money on swine flu vaccines. According to some legal opinions I just found online, the law is still in effect. However, the government does retain the option to go after manufacturers for negligence, with limits and constraints flying everywhere – it takes a lawyer to understand it all!

  8. One point of correction: Drug manufacturer liability for injuries/ problems with flu vaccines IS different with “swine flu” (H1N1 flus) than with “normal flu”.
    Public Law 94-380 went into effect October 1, 1976 with the government taking all liability for swine flu vaccines BUT also not allowing the manufacturer to make any money on swine flu vaccines. According to some legal opinions I just found online, the law is still in effect. However, the government does retain the option to go after manufacturers for negligence, with limits and constraints flying everywhere – it takes a lawyer to understand it all!

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