• top stories
  • read
  • newsarchive
  • by deepjournal
14 November 2009
This article is part of the series Swine Flu.
| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 |
Is the Swine Flu vaccine dangerous? The facts and the fiction

By Daan de Wit
Translated by Ben Kearney

Despite the urgent advice of the government and reassuring words from the minister responsible, there remains much doubt. To be or not to be vaccinated against the Swine Flu? While there are long lines to get the shot, many others are choosing not to be vaccinated. 'Almost half of all nurses already know that they aren't going to be vaccinated against the Swine Flu', writes the NOS. Part of the controversy surrounding the vaccine are the additives, such as squalene and the mercury compound Thiomersal. How dangerous are these substances in reality?

The program Full Focus produced by KPBS points out that the Autism Society of America, with the help of data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has concluded that 'children are 27 times more likely to develop autism with exposure to mercury containing vaccines'. The national average is now 1 in every 150 children who exhibit autistic behavior. How does that compare to an Amish community, where vaccinations are not allowed? UPI journalist Dan Olmsted sorted through the numbers in 2005 and calculated that there should have been around 130 autism sufferers in the Amish community he visited, based on the national average. But there are only four. And all four have a high level of mercury in their blood, either as a result of a vaccination the child received before being adopted or because the child lived near a power plant that emitted mercury. In June of 2007 Olmsted wrote about a large study that showed that vaccinated children in the U.S. run a 'significantly greater risk' of neurological disorders.

Not everyone agrees with Olmsted. One of the most vocal opponents, someone who appears in the mainstream media quite often, is Paul Offit. It's his opinion that vaccines are so safe that a healthy baby could withstand 100,000 vaccinations. He gets annoyed by criticism of Swine Flu vaccinations, and writes in The New York Times that vaccinating is impeded by 'various myths, spread on TV talk shows and Web sites'. That same newspaper supports him by offering the content of a group lesson for schoolchildren on its website under the title of 'Debunking Myths About Swine Flu Vaccine'. Who is Offit? Newsweek reports that he 'has served as both a paid and unpaid member of a scientific advisory board at Merck, which makes [vaccine] RotaTeq'. 'To hear his enemies talk, you might think Paul Offit is the most hated man in America', writes Wired in an article that cautions against not getting vaccinated. A panel of the Council on Foreign Relations was presented with the question as to what the best strategy is in the battle against 'crazy people' who are against vaccinations. The answer according to Jon Cohen, who is also a reporter for the magazine Science, is that arguments work the best. Dutch health minister Klink says: 'We still have some progress to make in the competition with the internet'.

'Whoever digs into the website www.grieppandemie.nl will notice that the Institute for Public Health and the Environment is beating around the bush', writes the 5 and a half months pregnant science reporter Nienke Beintema in NRC Handelsblad. In part two of this DeepJournal series we saw how the Institute for Public Health and the Environment could not be compelled to make their information publicly available, even through legal action. Beintema is refusing the vaccine. Her argument sounds logical: 'Seventeen deaths in The Netherlands? I mean, every year a few hundred people die in The Netherlands of the regular seasonal flu'. And there is still a question as to whether or not those seventeen really did die from H1N1. An investigation done by American CBS showed that most Americans who were thought to have the Swine Flu didn't have it at all. And the same pattern seen in The Netherlands can be seen in the United States - the Center for Disease Control is also refusing to make it's data public. Only after continual urging and a Freedom of Information request by CBS did the CDC come through with the numbers on the actual cases of H1N1.

The CDC won't need to be so obstructive in supplying this data in the future because in July it hastily decided to stop testing and counting H1N1 cases. Why they did this is unknown. The result is that information about the spreading of the disease in America since July isn't based on any facts. The CDC is now advising anyone who has 'probable' or 'presumed' H1N1 to get vaccinated. The lack of factuality in and of itself is evident in this headline: 'Swine flu infects over 250 Georgetown students'. The number doesn't actually come from laboratory results but from estimates of the numbers of students that had gone to the doctor with flu symptoms. In his 2005 series of reports, the above-mentioned journalist Dan Olmsted cites an NBC interview with Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the CDC. She says: 'Right now the scientific evidence doesn't provide any framework for concluding that Thimerosal or immunizations in any way affect autism. [...] But we have to have an open mind about that'. That mixed reaction could be the product of a meeting that took place five years earlier. At the meeting were representatives of the CDC, the FDA, and vaccine manufacturers. They discussed a study that demonstrated a potential link between autism and Thiomersal/Thimerosal. The minutes of the meeting at which this study was discussed were kept secret, but were released after a Freedom of Information request was filed.

From the minutes it's clear that the people present at the meeting repeatedly expressed alarm over the results of the study. It's also clear that, for example, the younger the patient is, the more dangerous the mercury is for the child. 'This association leads me to favor a recommendation that infants up to two years old not be immunized with Thimerosal containing vaccines if suitable alternative preparations are available', said Dr. Johnson, Michigan state public health officer and a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Johnson, who also chaired the meeting, added a personal note: 'My gut feeling? It worries me enough. Forgive this personal comment, but I got called out at eight o'clock for an emergency call and my daughter-in-law delivered a son by C-section. Our first male in the line of the next generation, and I do not want that grandson to get a Thimerosal containing vaccine until we know better what is going on'. In contrast to The Netherlands, vaccines in America today only in some cases contains Thimerosal. The Dutch government is advising that children ages between 6 months and 4 years get vaccinated, and the same for women who are more than 13 weeks pregnant.

Sign up for the free mailing list.