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Media, money and medicine

Is the flu vaccine the next bad drug?

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Each winter the flu intrudes into our lives. But beyond fever and chills, this villain virus generates media, money and mayhem.

With flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plan "The Seven-Step Recipe for Generating Interest in and Demand for Flu Vaccines" creates a massive pro-vaccine media campaign each year. In a single week last September, 1,026 media messages were broadcast or published, including "this could be the worst flu season ever," "the flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu" and "flu season kills 36,000 per year." But what evidence is there to back up this scare that produces long lines of frightened souls hoping to score dwindling doses of vaccine? Are they effective or even safe? And, when vaccine manufacturers routinely report seasonal revenues upward of $500 million, are there financial incentives for product safety?

The nearly 5,000 flu vaccine-related autism injury cases currently pending in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims suggest negative answers to these questions. According to Barbara Loe Fisher, former consumer member of the FDA Vaccines Advisory Committee (1999 to 2003) and cofounder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), "Many of the world's most highly vaccinated children are contracting far fewer infections in childhood but are growing up chronically ill with various kinds of brain and immune system dysfunction." She adds, "Government health officials and the American Academy of Pediatrics put out an Autism Alarm to the public announcing ... a stunning 200 to 7,000 percent increase in autism in every state over the past two decades."

The government's vaccine risk assessment database, the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), recently detected a statistical link between vaccines containing the mercury-laced preservative thimerosal, a neurotoxin, and developmental and behavior disorders, including but not limited to autism. But this information was withheld from the public. Fisher started a petition to allow full access to the VSD by independent researchers, and almost 10,000 people signed immediately.

Fisher also links vaccinations to 3 million learning disabled schoolchildren; 4 million with ADHD; 9 million with asthma; 300,000 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; and 1 in 400 to 500 with diabetes.

Senior citizens may also be negatively affected by flu shots. According to immogeneticist Dr. Hugh Fudenberg, M.D., individuals who received five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 are ten times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who received zero, one or two shots.

But the number of injuries may be even greater, as doctors can refuse to report adverse effects and face no consequences. And even when a link can be proven, vaccine manufacturers are not liable. Since the flu vaccine was added to the federal vaccine compensation program in 1986, those injured by vaccines now face the federal government, which is defended by the Department of Justice.

Beyond the side effects, the question remains as to whether the flu vaccine is actually effective enough to be worth the risks. Last season 82,000,000 people were vaccinated in the United States, but according to NVIC "only 3 to 14 percent of those who got vaccinated were protected against the flu." WebMD adds that in a Denver hospital, "people who got vaccinated were just as likely to get flu-like symptoms as those who didn't get the vaccine." And Morbidity and Mortality Weekly reports the vaccine had "no or low effectiveness" against flu-like illness.

Like a muscle, immunity must be developed. Infectious agents stimulate an inflammatory response, which signals the production of antibodies. The antibodies then resolve the inflammation, and healing begins to take place. But according to British Medical Journal, when vaccines artificially manipulate immunity, the natural immune response may be compromised. For example, Haemophilus influenzae type b infection rates are now higher than they were before the vaccine program was introduced. The reason, according to researchers, is that reduced exposure to the disease means antibody levels or "natural" immunity, are no longer being boosted. When the disease begins to rise once again, many victims are less equipped to fight the infection.

Despite these conclusions, vaccine mandates continue to be pushed by state legislators--but parents are pushing back by becoming educated about legal exemptions for school admittance. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that 93 percent of physicians reported at least one parental vaccine refusal in their practice in the past year. Typically, 80 to 90 percent of Americans don't get the flu each year. Although flu strains vary the body's defense is the same: a strong immune system. Those looking to augment immune function through non-vaccine measures may find relief through natural (alternative) health care including homeopathic remedies or chiropractic care.

In recent years, doctors and pharmaceutical companies have encouraged millions of Americans to partake in the magical powers of Fen Phen, hormone replacement therapy, Ephedrine and Vioxx, among others, only to later learn that the miracle drugs are quite dangerous drugs with life-threatening side effects. Beyond the hype, is the flu vaccine the next bad drug?

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