On June 11, the World Health Organization classified the H1N1 swine flu as a level six pandemic and urged governments to institute a mass vaccination program to stop the virus’ spread.
Alarm Over Rushed Approval of Largely Untested Vaccine
Some concerned citizens and health care providers have responded with alarm at the accelerated rate of approval of the newly developed vaccine, causing many to question the safety of the vaccine.
While governments and health officials continue to promote the vaccination program, others are questioning the wisdom of a wide scale immunization campaign. Some of the concerns include the following:
- Has the vaccine been adequately tested for safety?
- What are the long term effects of this vaccine?
- Who should get the vaccine?
- Who should not get the vaccine?
- Are children already over vaccinated?
- What is the cumulative effect upon the immune system of this vaccine in conjunction with all the others in the recommended immunization program?
- Is the adjuvant (an additive used to hype up the body’s response to the vaccination) safe?
- Will this vaccine mimic the 1976 vaccine which caused an increased risk of developing Guillain-Barre Sydnrome (a sometimes fatal inflammation of the nerves)?
- Is this vaccine safe for children?
- Is this vaccine safe for pregnant women?
- Why is mercury-containing thimerosal being used as a preservative in this vaccine?
- Which poses a greater risk to the nation’s health – the H1N1 virus or the vaccine?
- Will the vaccine become mandatory?
An Interview with Vaccine Safety Expert and Researcher
Popular online natural health proponent Dr. Mercola, recently interviewed Barbara Loe Fisher , author of A Shot in the Dark and co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center , a vaccine safety watchdog. In the interview, Ms. Fisher raised concerns about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine and reminded viewers of the fallout from the 1976 swine flu immunization campaign.
Swine Flu Less Virulent Than it Was Expected to Be
She also pointed out that from reports of the flu’s effects on populations in the southern hemisphere, where H1N1 has already run its course (Australia’s flu season in now over), it has proven to be a less virulent form of influenza than others. Says Loe Fisher, “H1N1 is not causing excessive mortality.”
Unimmunized Elderly Not Getting Sick With the Swine Flu
She also notes that the elderly, those who grew up before mass immunization programs were rolled out, seem to be generally immune to the H1N1 virus because they developed immunity to precursors of the current virus. “That’s the way you get natural, long-lasting, robust immunity, is you recover from an infection and you have those antibodies that last you for a long time, which of course is not true with vaccination,” says Loe Fisher.
Unanswered Questions About the H1N1 Vaccine
The rapid implementation of a general immunization program for H1N1 swine flu virus has raised concerns for many. But questions about the H1N1 vaccine will likely remain unanswered until the results of the campaign have been studied and become well known. That could be many years down the line.