Rush Limbaugh-’Pig Flu’-and vaccines

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!

This entry was posted in H1N1 General, Swine flu, Vaccines. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Rush Limbaugh-’Pig Flu’-and vaccines

  1. Geneva Phelps says:

    I wish it were true that Rush usually gets his facts straight, but this is just not the case. He lies, yes, just lies, all the time. His political agenda is clear is most everything he does and facts, have very little bearing on what you hear coming out of his big, fat, mouth!

  2. David says:

    There are facts, there is science, but then there are people.

    People are not infallible, they are human. And humans can often make choices, choices they believe are in the best interest of the rest of humanity, but in order to make those decisions they often choose to overlook facts, overlook “minor complications”, and make tradeoffs. All because they are in the best interests of the People. And these are the good, smart, well-meaning people (leaving out those who might not be as good, smart, or well-meaning for the sake of argument).

    “This is the best we’re going to get”
    “Due to political concerns this is the way it had to be done”
    “Don’t mention this as it could raise liability issues”
    “Which is worse, a few deaths or complications or a pandemic”

    There are many that place infinite trust in the Institutions that are supposed to protect them. But then there are some who look behind the walls of the Institution and realize that it is simply a building full of human fallibility.

    Is it really as clear-cut as the Media and Institutions would like us to believe? Is it as necessary, is it as safe, and is it tested as it needs to be for someone to make the decision to possibly endanger the life of their unborn child?

    Perhaps we’ll never have a 100% answer to that question, but just because you put faith in the Institutions doesn’t mean that someone who questions those Institutions is on the fringe.

  3. SophiaZoe says:

    @David,

    I’m not totally clear on whether you are (1) questioning the safety [and presuming : the efficacy] of the H1N1-2009 vaccine specifically or (2) vaccines in general, and/or the (3) current administration’s handling of the pandemic.

    Since I feel it is reasonably safe to assume you question #1 above I will say that the vaccine is exactly the same as our seasonal influenza vaccine. Our injectable vaccine has been manufactured and administered for more years than I have been alive [I am 50 years old]. I’m sorry, I simply cannot see how something more than half a century old is “new”, “untested”, “experimental” or “of unknown safety and efficacy”.

    To the issue of vaccines in general: I do not know about you but I enjoy having lived a life free of the threat of some pretty awful infectious diseases. Diseases that were part of the very warp and weft of their early lives.

    Now, the issue of safety can be variable person-to-person. There is a statistical chance, extremely small of an adverse reaction. There is also a small statistical possibility of dying in a car crash because you are wearing your seat belt, whereas had you not been wearing it you would have very likely survived. Does this mean we should all forgo the wearing of our seat belts in our vehicles?

    There is a statistically small possibility that I will die getting out of bed in the morning, especially on a Monday morning. Does this mean that I should be allowed to lay abed all Monday [and not go to work] because of that small danger? Should we all remain abed on Mondays because of that small statistical threat? Never mind that the threat would simply shift to Tuesday mornings.

    In a nutshell: I have complete confidence in the pandemic vaccine. The pandemic vaccine is independent of what political party occupies the White House.

    Specific to pregnant women and their unborn children: Doing a search on the benefits of influenza immunizations during pregnancy to both the mother and the unborn child will yield all the results I would ever need to receive one should I be faced with that decision, not a possibility in reality. Irrespective of that, the science supporting efficacy is solid, as is the safety.

    The science stating that an infection of influenza during pregnancy risks the lives of both mother and unborn child is also readily available with a quick search of the scientific and medical journals accessible online.

    Shunning an infinitesimally likely risk while embracing one that statistically meaningful is not logical.

  4. Bill says:

    “he is usually much more thorough about checking his facts”

    Thanks, I needed a laugh. Perhaps you were purposefully being centric to appeal to, and save the lives of, his followers and their children.

    To me, this is the Darwin Awards, writ large.

    Pity the children tho…