Have you decided what you're going to do about the swine flu vaccine yet? Have you heard anybody yet talk about it that you trust? Will you take your chances with the swine flu or the vaccine? Will you take the vaccine and give it to your children? How much do you trust your government?
I think that's the main question. Do you trust your government in a couple of things: A, that this crisis is even real, and B, that they have competently worked with the best medicine to develop, distribute and administer a potentially lifesaving vaccine? Do you believe that?
Are you even troubled by the fact that we have to ask these questions of ourselves? I am, quite honestly. I can't believe that we live in a world that we do now, where there is such a lack of trust.
Unfortunately, there is that credibility issue in Washington, with science — with the science that comes from the world organizations like the WHO, or really it's the U.N. that bothers me so much. We have been lied to before. We have been lied to by the media. We have been lied to by both sides of the aisle, and politicians — with politician and doctors are wrong. I'm not alone in asking these questions.
There is a recent poll out by Consumer Reports that found that two-thirds of parents planned to delay or skip giving their children the H1N1 shots altogether. I thought about how to do this show, and I thought about it long and hard. I have made my decision about the swine flu vaccine, but because of the enormity of the ramifications here, we are facing a potential pandemic. I believe in pandemics and I believe we're due for one. Trying to decide what is best to protect my family is what I have done, but that's now in your hands, finding out how you're going to protect your family. Therefore, I'll keep my decision private.
I'm trying to give you the facts with no opinion. So, what I want to do is arm you with as much information as possible, so you can make the best choice for your family. We have worked hard to compile the best information from the best doctors and experts available. I've personally spoken to a couple of the best doctors in the world and some of the experts on both sides in order to help you make an informed decision. So, let's start with some facts that we already know.
Flu pandemics have struck before, and with deadly results. The biggest one was 1918 to 1919. It was the Spanish flu pandemic. It swept the planet, killing at least 40 million people worldwide. This was the nasty one here in America. More than 500,000 people died in the United States. Forty years later, there was another one — in 1957-1958, Asian flu hit the world, causing about 70,000 deaths in the United States. We also had the Hong Kong flu from 1968 to 1969 that caused about 34,000 deaths in the United States. Earlier this year, there were hundreds of reported deaths from H1N1, but it paled in comparison to the death rate of even the annual garden variety flu, about 36,000 people each year die just from the seasonal flu here in the U.S.
Right now, according to the experts I have talked to, H1N1 may actually be less virulent than its predecessor earlier this year, although it still has proven at times to be capable of taking life. The fear, of course, is that a more deadly strain of H1N1 will circulate. That's what happened in 1918-1919. First, I think it started in about 1916 and it was fine; 1917, fine; and then 1918, it swept through and killed a lot of people. The World Health Organization recently warned that H1N1 could kill millions and cause anarchy in third world countries unless $1.5 billion is raised to help poor countries pay for the vaccine.
OK. We also know that here in New York, it has been mandated that 500,000 health care workers must be vaccinated. Well, as you can imagine, that's not going well with some workers here in America. These people were protesting, I think it was last week. Americans generally bristle at the mere thought of being forced to have something injected into their bodies, whether that's some bureaucrat saying that it's good for us or a doctor or not, it doesn't matter. Some of these people may have actually believed it was for the best. But once freedom of choice is removed from the equation, to many, the rest of the argument is moot.
However, one physician with whom we spoke, Dr. Marc Siegel put it this way, "The decision whether to make the vaccine for the novel H1N1 flu mandatory for health care workers is not a moral or ethical problem. It is simply a question of health mathematics. In this case, the math is on the side of the vaccine."
By the way, Dr. Siegel will be appearing later on this program, but I was bothered by the "simple math" part of that. I mean, I'm not a number. These people were not numbers. Those who are being forced to take the injection, it's not numbers. If they don't take their injections, they lose their jobs. It may or may not be a moral or ethical problem, but it certainly raises questions of freedom and liberty. Were their rights trampled?
I don't think I can go that far, because you do have the option of not receiving the vaccine. You just have to go and find other employment. Again, as Americans, something, though, seems inherently wrong in that scenario, and the off repeated refrain from Ben Franklin jumps to mind, "Those who are willing to sacrifice their freedom for safety deserve neither and will lose both." We can debate Ben Franklin some other day.
I want to focus on helping you make the best decision for this vaccine for your family. So, let's start here: Why should you get the vaccine?
Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control, swine flu, "can be life threatening in some people with underlying health conditions. The H1N1 vaccine can help prevent infection and also help people prevent the serious complications that can lead to death in some people." Certain age groups should be particularly concerned. Make sure they receive the vaccine. "These groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age, health care and emergency medical service personnel, and persons between the ages of six months and 24 years old, also people ages 25-64 years of age who are at a higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems."
Another compelling reason to receive the vaccine is that this particular strain, if it gets nasty, you and your family are going to be completely unprotected and at its mercy without the vaccine, and you might be wishing you took it. There were no vaccines for the Spanish flu in 1918. How many lives could have been saved? Even the last time around for swine flu in America in 1876, we were nowhere near where we are today in terms of medical advancement. When this shot does become available nationwide, it will be a two-stage process for children under nine. Doctors tell me that makes all the difference in the world.
But there are those on the other side of the issue with some compelling arguments as well. Among the most compelling, there is a concern that the vaccine was rushed to market in just a few months. Was it developed carefully enough? Who developed it? What was the process? Is it reasonable that we went from zero to 60 this quickly with this vaccine? The vaccine also contains thimerosal. Some experts believe it can cause severe damage in some people. They argue that the vast majority of people who take this vaccine would tolerate it just fine, but there would be some that would be more susceptible to those effects.
Dr. Kent Holtorf is an expert in infectious diseases. He warns there is a risk with this multiple vaccine approach of a side effect very similar to the Gulf War syndrome. He stresses that the flu mist nasal version doesn't have the same negative immune system modulating potential. He will be here appearing later on the show.
So now what? What do you do as far as this vaccine is concerned? It's really up to you. Hopefully you will receive some information that will help you make the decision. I have been saying on radio and television now for some time, it really is only a matter of time before another pandemic happens on the scale of 1918 devastating our globe. It has been happening since man first walked the Earth. Over and over it will happen again.
If that flu would strike again, only a handful of people living today could even begin to relate of what life would be like. We must take this threat seriously. I think the government has done a responsible job so far. However, the arrogance of those in science and politics that we have seen lately should give us pause. We are no longer living in the Dick Van Dyke-Mary Tyler Moore 1950s kind of mentality where people were better living through pharmaceuticals.
It's time now to know the facts and make your own decisions.
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