Thursday, 03 September 2009 14:00

Risks of the Swine Flu Vaccine

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Swine flu shotThe coming swine flu vaccination campaign is expected to begin in October. But with vaccine safety tests being fast-tracked under “public health emergency” rules and the use of some questionable ingredients, many health experts are warning about a myriad of risks associated with the vaccine and the importance of being educated.

“Right now, you need to become educated about vaccination, influenza, vaccine risks and the public health laws in your state,” warned Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center. “You need to find out what your rights and options are under new public health laws that may require you — and your children — to be vaccinated or quarantined.”

So what are the risks of the swine flu vaccines? It depends on who you ask.

“There can be no argument that unnecessary mass injection of millions of children with a vaccine containing an adjuvant known to cause a host of debilitating autoimmune diseases is a reckless, dangerous plan,” explained Dr. Joseph Mercola, a health activist, author and strong critic of the swine flu immunization program. He proceeds to provide evidence justifying his concerns.

The adjuvant Mercola is referring to is based on an oil known as squalene. It is used to reduce the amount of viral antigen required in vaccines, which allows companies to produce more vaccines for less money at a faster rate.

But according to countless medical professionals and experts, using it in immunizations is a bad idea. It is also going to be somewhat experimental. There isn’t a single vaccine containing squalene that is approved for use in America, according to Meryl Nass, M.D., who notes that Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline will make use of it as a “novel feature of the H1N1 vaccines.” 

Squalene is a naturally occurring oil, found in the human brain, joints, and other places. The problem, according to some experts, comes when it is administered in a vaccine. They claim that in this circumstance, the body creates antibodies to attack the oil. And it is believed by many to be responsible for the wide variety of symptoms that were called collectively "Gulf War Syndrome," a sometimes debilitating set of phenomena present in a large number of U.S. military personnel who served during the first war in Iraq. 

“The substantial majority (95%) of overtly ill deployed GWS patients had antibodies to squalene. All (100%) GWS patients immunized for service in Desert Shield/Desert Storm who did not deploy, but had the same signs and symptoms as those who did deploy, had antibodies to squalene,” noted a Tulane Medical School study published in Experimental Molecular Pathology. “In contrast, none (0%) of the deployed Persian Gulf veterans not showing signs and symptoms of GWS have antibodies to squalene.” The study has been challenged, but it is still widely cited.

Another study published in the American Journal of Pathology highlighted problems with the use of the substance as well. One injection of squalene into rats led them to develop what humans know as rheumatoid arthritis, or “chronic, immune-mediated joint-specific inflammation.”

Another potential risk from the vaccine was highlighted by Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, the chairman of the health committee in the German parliament and the European Council. As reported in an article entitled "German health expert’s flu warning — Does virus vaccine increase risk of cancer?" in the German newspaper Bild, “the nutrient solution for the vaccine consists of cancerous cells from animals,” and according to Wodarg, "we do not know if there could be an allergic reaction.”

Johannes Löwer, the president of the German government’s Paul Ehrlich Institute, also warned that the side effects of the shot could be worse than the actual swine flu, according to the article. 

Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that will also be used in the swine flu vaccine, has come under fire from a broad array of medical experts. Despite a number of studies that concluded the substance does not cause autism, there are critics of the various studies. Also critics point to widespread concern about other mercury-related complications.

The Food and Drug Administration actually told pharmaceutical companies to stop using the substance in early childhood vaccines. But many still contain it. And the swine flu vaccine will be no exception, though Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that because of concerns over the preservative, there will be some vaccines available without it.

Critics, however, are still not satisfied. "We don't have adequate safety studies on this vaccine before we are moving forward to market," noted Lyn Redwood, the president of a non-profit organization called SafeMinds (Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders) dedicated to investigating and raising awareness about the risks associated with mercury in medicinal products. "I'm really not convinced that we know for sure that the risk of the disease outweighs the risk of the vaccine, especially since this is a brand new additive that we have never used before in combination with thimerosal."

But thimerosal, squalene, and cancerous animal cells are far from the only concerns.  Among other potentially dangerous chemicals and substances often found in influenza vaccines are formaldehyde, antibiotics, and even ethylene glycol, known as anti-freeze. Various health experts have varying opinions about the effects of all of these additives, but many doctors still warn against them.   

Another cause for concern surfaced in the United Kingdom when the government’s Health Protection Agency sent a letter to senior neurologists warning that the new swine flu vaccine is linked to the deadly nerve disease known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), the Daily Mail reported in an article entitled "Swine flu jab link to killer nerve disease: Leaked letter reveals concern of neurologists over 25 deaths in America." The risk of contracting the paralysis-inducing illness was reportedly eight times greater in those who received the infamous government swine flu vaccine of 1976, which killed more people than the actual virus. The leaked letter warned recipients to keep an eye open for GBS and report it immediately.

Many vaccine opponents go much further than highlighting the potential risks, with some making unsubstantiated claims that it will be used as a tool for mass depopulation or eugenics. Some point to anecdotal evidence like comments by Obama’s science czar, who called for drastic population reduction methods in a book called Ecoscience. But what is certain is that the vaccine carries risks — a lot of them according to experts.

The people who seem totally convinced about the inoculations’ safety and efficacy — or who are at least downplaying the potential risks and side effects — appear to be mostly government bureaucrats or people with vested interests. Virtually every medicinal product carries some risk, and these vaccines are no different. To say otherwise is disingenuous. 

What is important is that the population be educated about the potential complications and then decide with their families and healthcare providers what approach they would like to take, taking into consideration the risks of the vaccine and of the swine flu. It should be an individual decision without bureaucratic interference or propaganda.

Photo: AP Images

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