They Will Never Learn
I continue to be puzzled by the Swine Flu epidemic. Initially, when it was on a relatively small scale, it was all over the news, but now that it is much more widespread and has affected orders of magnitude greater amounts of people worldwide, the mainstream media has not said anything about it. Regardless, our government has decided to do something about it. In news that should be covered to a much greater degree (Press=MASSIVE FAIL), the U.S. Government plans to vaccinate at least half of the country’s population within months. How benevolent of them right? The U.S. has never tried to immunize so many people in such a short period of time.
I have a few concerns however:
Among the unknowns: how many shots people will need, what the correct dosage should be, and how to avoid confusing the public with an overlapping effort to combat the regular seasonal flu.
The campaign is haunted by memories of the government’s ill-fated 1976 effort to vaccinate against swine flu. The epidemic fizzled, but the vaccine was given to 40 million people and blamed for causing a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
To address concerns of pregnant women and parents with young children, some vaccine is being produced without a mercury additive. And because the short-term studies can identify only common, immediate side effects, the CDC will step up monitoring for rarer, serious complications such as Guillain-Barré.
It seems that there is a large financial component as well.
The federal government has spent close to $2 billion to buy up to 195 million doses of vaccine and adjuvant, including the standard shots and the newer FluMist nasal spray vaccine made by MedImmune of Gaithersburg.
The government is prepared to buy enough to vaccinate every person — 600 million doses all together — if the pandemic or demand warrants it. That could increase the cost to $5 billion for the vaccine alone. It would cost at least $9 billion to administer the vaccine to the entire population, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
The CDC is formulating a $4.8 million multimedia campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated and help alleviate concerns and confusion, including radio and television public service announcements, print ads, and messages delivered via Twitter, RSS feeds and video podcasts on YouTube.
If they are spending billions of dollars on something that may not be needed, they certainly better advertise it right? What strikes me about all of this is that the H1N1 virus is typically no more harmful than the usual flu. The symptoms are very similar as well. I suspect that there will be many misdiagnosis this fall and that that may not be unintentional in some cases. It has the vibe of being a mass overreaction to me. I hope that this fall, I am proven right.