One of the Truly Great Things about America is our Constitutionally Guaranteed Right to Free Speech. Well, such as we still have after political correctness and hate speech sensitivities that is. This very blog is a celebration and testament to my comfort and certainty in my constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech. I can hop on the internet and post pretty much whatever I choose to post and many readers, in the United States and elsewhere around the globe, can hop on the internet at their end and read my words. Of course, there are some countries where freedom to speak and freedom to read are not guaranteed – and in some cases are energetically and jealously guarded against “too much of the wrong thing.”
Because of America’s Grand Tradition, we have all manner of people spouting off about all manner of things, and yes, I am included in that category. The “consumers” of the products of America’s Grand Tradition are not always well served, and on occasion even harmed, by “consuming” the “product” of some other person’s free speech. Someone who listens is invested with the presumption of reason to independently ferret out the helpful, the benign, and the harmful when such “ferreting” is prudent — such as in matters of health and physical safety.
With Global Warming, believing one side’s “experts” over the other side’s “experts” has no ramifications to one’s health or life [despite what one side likes to say occasionally]. As in: we have only ‘X’ years to fix the issue or we’re all going to fry under the parching sun, our cities will drown, and our crops will fail, causing death and destruction on a “Biblical Scale” [my phrase].
Although the issue of Global Warming may chafe and bruise my sense of logic and reason, what I choose to believe and disbelieve will have no effect on whether I, or a minor child in my care and custody, will become ill, possibly severely – possibly even fatally so. The same cannot be said for what I believe about the efficacy and safety of the pandemic A/H1N1-2009 vaccine.
Since I tend to lean rather heavily on “the science”, even if I wind up investing that science with a great deal of “personal emotion”, I do restrict that investment to scientifically credible issues. In other words: an emotional plea is just not enough for me, it has to be backed by science – credible science.
There is little doubt that the issue of pandemic influenza vaccination is driven by a great deal of emotion, on both sides of the issue, but “the science” speaks for itself… assuming one actually bothers to look at the science — even the dumbed-down layperson’s “science” on the issue.
The A/H1N1-2009 vaccine is no different than the seasonal influenza vaccine we have been manufacturing for decades. It is made precisely the same way.
The only material difference is the new HA and NA [the two genes that code for influenza's two outer proteins]. These two genes are swapped in our seasonal vaccine with a certain cyclical regularity, anytime the virus changes enough that the [then] current vaccine is no longer a “good match” to the strain [then] circulating. We’ve had enough of these swaps in recent years that it should not be difficult to remember the news about “pooly matched” vaccines.
The American A/H1N1-2009 vaccine does not contain an adjuvant. Period. The British and Canadian versions will contain an adjuvant, but the US vaccine DOES NOT.
The veracity of the Thimerasol controversy aside: The single dose vaccine for children under six years of age does not contain the preservative, nor does the inhaled vaccine known as FluMist. FluMist can be given to children two and older. The single dose Thimerasol-free vaccine is also being made available to pregnant women. So, if one happens to believe the debunked Thimerasol/Autism link: Please know and understand there are Thimerasol free options available for your children.
Those three very simple – basic – FACTS are easily – and understandably – documented with a simple search of the internet or trip to the local library. Knowing how easy the FACTS are found, FACTS backed up BY SCIENCE and not just “he said” or “she said” or even the very authoritative sounding “Doctor so-and-so said…” I was stunned to find out about – and view – a recent tirade by Rush Limbaugh [video below].
Say what you will about Rush Limbaugh, he is usually much more thorough about checking his facts.
Mr. Limbaugh has fallen victim to the same “infectious disease” as many on the vaccine issue: letting emotions decide a scientifically based medical issue.
Mr. Limbaugh states his doctors have never suggested he receive an influenza vaccine previously, and there is good reason for such: he has always been outside the recommended age brackets, traditionally those over 65, and recently, those under 5, and very recently those under 18 as well. As you can see, Mr. Limbaugh never met the age criteria when the criteria were operative, so he never warranted a doctor’s recommendation to get a seasonal influenza vaccine.
Healthy adults under age 65 have not been viewed as needing a vaccine because with seasonal influenza healthy adults are not usually at risk of severe illness and/or death. That doesn’t mean the occasion severe/fatal outcome didn’t happen, but when it did it was a truly freak happenstance of some really bad luck.
With A/H1N1-2009 the only folk who seem to be getting any sort of “influenza free pass” are the folk older than 65, the very same folks who are at greater risk from traditional seasonal influenza.
That may seem “weird”, or counter intuitive at first, but with pandemic influenza no one has existing immunity. Since A/H1N1-2009 is a “genetic cousin” [so to speak] of the influenza virus A/H1N1 circulating prior to 1957 [when H2N2 replaced it] and after 1978 [when a version was accidentally reintroduced into the human population] some of us are presumed to have at least some pre-existing immunity, those over 65 seem to have drawn the lucky straw on this one and appear to have the most pre-existing immunity.
Those who have never had an infection of seasonal A/H1N1, and there are a goodly many who have not, will not “enjoy” any of the benefits of that pre-existing immunity – at whatever level it may [or may not] exist in reality for each of us as individuals.
There is a blood test that can be done to determine if someone has ever had an infection of A/H1N1, and at what level circulating antibodies specific to A/H1N1 exist. That takes laboratory analysis, a technician’s time, and a lot more money than a vaccine would cost, to say nothing of not being covered by any health care plan one might have.
Or, one can do as Mr. Limbaugh seems to have decided to do: Not be vaccinated and risk being infected.
Mr. Limbaugh is probably almost 100% safe in his gamble – almost a “sure bet” if you will. His age is right to be at little risk, though somewhat more than those over 65, still, not very high. He’s also quite well off financially so if he does suffer a severe infection and lands in the hospital he can afford all those medical bills. And, if he is really – really – unlucky and ends up one of the statistically rare fatalities for his age bracket and general health then he won’t be around to care – or even know – that he was dead wrong.
Mr. Limbaugh is making the decision for himself. He’s a grown adult in possession of all his mental faculties, even if some would question the veracity of that statement, he is. As such, his decision is of no concern to me.
What is of concern to me is that he allowed the propagation of falsehoods on his show for what may have only been a political point. That is the only explanation I can assume given how easily the FACTS – “the science” if you will – could have been ascertained. FACTS that are EASILY ascertained by just about ANYONE, let alone someone with the staff and resources Mr. Limbaugh has at his disposal.
For the record: I haven’t listened to Rush Limbaugh since “Bush Senior” was our president. I do not dislike Mr. Limbaugh in any form or fashion, but neither am I a “fan”. I know him to be a man of intelligence and sharp whit, even if occasionally “flawed” – in the same respect that I myself am flawed [imperfect] – and you are – and you are – and all are.
I am not writing this to score any sort of “point” at Mr. Limbaugh’s expense, whatever he believes and chooses to do is his business [there are no minor children in his "decision tree"], but the same cannot be said for those that tune into his show and heard his emotionally and politically driven tirade propagating and reinforcing the lies and disinformation campaign of the anti-vaccine lobby.
And so I raise my tiny voice to the Godfather of Talk Radio: “Check your Freakin’ Facts man! ‘Cos that is so NOT like you — to get it sssoooooo WRONG!“