Paranoia Strikes Deep

Anyone who wonders whether demagogues on the left and right do real damage to the audiences they mislead need look no farther than how the partisan media is “reporting” on the vaccine for the swine flu. I am sensitive to this topic because I have cable news watching grandparents who I’d like to see survive the winter. The chances that they’ll do so are marginally improved if they get the flu vaccine, or so the best scientific information available suggests, there being no guarantees in these matters.

Chris Beam rounds up coverage in the partisan media that is bound to reduce the number of folks who get the flu vaccine.

On the anti-government right, swine flu vaccinations are seen as an example of government overreach. Last week, Rush Limbaugh made headlines by announcing that he would not be getting a shot. “Screw you, Ms. Sebelius,” he said on his radio show, referring to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “I’m not going to take it precisely because you’re now telling me I must.” Glenn Beck has declined to say whether he’s getting vaccinated. But he’s made his position pretty clear, suggesting that the vaccine may turn out to be “deadly,” raising the specter of mandatory vaccines (they’re voluntary), and saying he wants the “U.S. out of my bloodstream.”

On the left, there are prominent doctors, lawyers, and Hollywood celebrities skeptical of vaccines in general—and the swine flu vaccine especially. In a September article written for the Huffington Post, Dr. Frank Lipman recommended against getting vaccinated, arguing that the virus seems benign and the vaccine is unproven. Earlier this year, Jim Carrey—yes, that Jim Carrey—penned a HuffPost column reiterating the oft-made (and widely discredited) point that vaccines may cause autism. Robert F. Kennedy made a similar argument in a famous (and also largely discredited) 2005 article that appeared in Rolling Stone and Salon. The anti-vaccination movement is hardly exclusive to the left wing, but declines in vaccination rates have occurred in large part because of affluent parents in states like California.

Now, thanks to the government’s plan to ship 250 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine to all 50 states this month, the two sides have finally found common cause. They may hold different political opinions, but they share a worldview: distrust—of doctors and modern medicine or of government. There’s even some overlap. Beck, for example, said that “you don’t know if this is gonna cause neurological damage like it did in the 1970s”—a fear commonly cited by vaccine skeptics. (Claims that the 1976 flu vaccine caused Guillain-Barré syndrome have not been proven.) Meanwhile, those who fear the needle aren’t all that confident in their government, either: Dr. Lipman warns that HHS has given the drug companies manufacturing the vaccines immunity from lawsuits.

So there you have it. Demagogues on the right and left whose irresponsible rhetoric is very likely to cost lives this flu season by scaring folks who’d otherwise get the flu vaccine into going without.

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27 Responses to “Paranoia Strikes Deep”

  1. stephenlahanas Says:

    Well, if you’d done your research on the H1NI pandemic rather than calling vaccine critics paranoid extremists, you’d realize it is you and not your grandparents who are at risk from the current flu (less than 10% of those over 65 are affected). You should also read this:

    There happens to be a great deal of research regarding the (lack of) efficacy of flu vaccine, the connection of vaccines and Autism as well as the connection to the Anthrax vaccine to Gulf War Syndrome. Before you dismiss the current concerns you’d do well to investigate it yourself…

    • davidlosangeles Says:

      Hello stephenlahanas,

      You are correct that “There happens to be a great deal of research regarding the (lack of) efficacy of flu vaccine, the connection of vaccines and Autism” It all shows that there is in fact no connection between autism and vaccination and the flu vaccinations work just fine for the strains that they contain.

      Vaccines work, that is all there is to it. I would challenge you and any other vaccine critic to name anyone they know who has been vaccinated and has had polio, small pox, whooping cough, diphthiria, mumps, measles, and so on. My kids did not have any of these disease and I don’t know any of their friends who have had them. Small pox, a disease that scarred and killed millions of people for centuries, no longer exists – at all – any where. This is why they don’t vaccinate for small pox any more. No one has ever answered that one.

      What happens with vaccination critics is that they raise one issue, and when challenged, they shift to a different one, and when challenged on that, shift to a third, &c, ad infinitum. They will say that the mercury compound that had been used to prevent bacterial grown in the stored vaccine (thermasol) causes autism. When it is pointed out that the this mercury compound was removed from childhood vaccines over 10 years ago yet the rates of autism keep increasing, they then say it is the number of shots. When it is pointed out that the number of shots kids get is not greater but the number of diseases and that vaccines are not shots (polio), then it is shifted to something else.

      Vaccines work, they save millions of lives. Are they perfect, no. Is there a down side, yes. However, on the whole, the benefits far out weigh the costs.

  2. davidlosangeles Says:

    Mr. Friedersdorf,

    The anti-vaccination issue is neither a “left” nor “right” issue. I know people of “centrist” or even no particular political persuasion who are anti-vaccination. Which is not to say that there are not those with a political agenda who will not exploit this sentiment but it is hardly limited to those people.

    The roots of this concern go beyond political boundaries. Vaccination, beginning with small pox, has been going on for over 200 years and for 200 years people have been sure it is a bad idea. It is an inherently uncomfortable idea to inject the agents that cause a disease into ones own body, perhaps even worse to do so ones children. The actual process is usually unpleasant, if not painful. There is also the very real, albeit small, chance of actually getting the disease (or some other reaction or side effect). It only natural, if unfortunate, that people would be reticent about vaccination.

    Further, in the post 1960’s world, after the disasters of Vietnam and Watergate, people are justifiably wary of “the government” and large corporate motives and maneuvers. People don’t want to “get fooled again” as The Who put it. People were rightly distrustful of President Bush’s drive to war in Iraq, and their distrust was justified. Again unfortunately, this distrust is often misplaced, in this case at vaccinations.

    BTW, “doctors, lawyers, and Hollywood celebrities” and “affluent parents in states like California” hardly constitute the “the left”.

  3. bensmyson Says:

    Perhaps if the body failed to build an immune system that created antibodies necessary to protect the person from disease, we as a species would have died out 2 million years ago.

    Vaccines are helpful only when properly tested. mercury still exists in vaccines, maybe just traces of it in each shot, but when a child is jabbed with 8 vaccines in one day how much mercury is getting into the child?

    The flu vaccine mercury levels are extremely high.

    For reference:
    – 0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury = Kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140).
    – 2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water.
    – 20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37).
    – 200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste.
    – 50,000 ppb mercury = Current “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose vial flu vaccine (94% of supply), as per the package insert.

    Because of the mercury content a pregnant woman is advised to not consume more than one six-ounce can of tuna per week, the mercury in one flu vaccine equals more than 77 cans of tuna.

    If you think you can trust the manufacturers why not look into Vioxx and how Merck conspired to protect their brand knowing full well that it was killing people.

  4. bensmyson Says:

    And of course to render the vaccine mercury free, all they do is add more aluminum. There is no safe vaccine, no ingredient is safe.

    Bishop NJ, Morley R, Day JP, Lucas A. Aluminum neurotoxicity in preterm infants receiving intravenous-feeding solutions. N Engl J Med. 1997 May 29;336(22):1557-61. Comment in: N Engl J Med. 1997 Oct 9;337(15):1090-1 PMID: 9324646 Medical Research Council (MRC) Dunn Nutrition Unit, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
    BACKGROUND: Aluminum, a contaminant of commercial intravenous-feeding solutions, is potentially neurotoxic. We investigated the effect of perinatal exposure to intravenous aluminum on the neurologic development of infants born prematurely. METHODS: We randomly assigned 227 premature infants with gestational ages of less than 34 weeks and birth weights of less than 1850 g who required intravenous feeding before they could begin enteral feeding to receive either standard or specially constituted, aluminum-depleted intravenous-feeding solutions. The neurologic development of the 182 surviving infants who could be tested was assessed by using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 18 months of age. RESULTS: The 90 infants who received the standard feeding solutions had a mean (+/-SD) Bayley Mental Development Index of 95+/-22, as compared with 98+/-20 for the 92 infants who received the aluminum-depleted solutions (P=0.39). In a planned subgroup analysis of infants in whom the duration of intravenous feeding exceeded the median and who did not have neuromotor impairment, the mean values for the Bayley Mental Development Index for the 39 infants who received the standard solutions and the 41 infants who received the aluminum-depleted solutions were 92+/-20 and 102+/-17, respectively (P=0.02). The former were significantly more likely (39 percent, vs. 17 percent of the latter group; P=0.03) to have a Mental Development Index of less than 85, increasing their risk of subsequent educational problems. For all 157 infants without neuromotor impairment, increasing aluminum exposure was associated with a reduction in the Mental Development Index (P=0.03), with an adjusted loss of one point per day of intravenous feeding for infants receiving the standard solutions. CONCLUSIONS: In preterm infants, prolonged intravenous feeding with solutions containing aluminum is associated with impaired neurologic development

    • davidlosangeles Says:

      Hello bensmyson,

      You wrote “no ingredient is safe”. Well that pretty well sums up the position of the anti-vaccination folks. If a shot contained distilled water, it would not be “safe”. If you read the paper you cited, which clearly had not, it was about intravenous feed in premature infants who cannot be breast or bottle fed, not vaccinations of anybody. Twenty percent of newborns in this study died before it was completed. The volume of liquid in this case is quite large, enough to keep a newborn alive.

      Vaccinations are of a extremely small volume and only a tiny amount of aluminum adjuvants and only some vaccines actually use. Doctors have looked into this and there no evidence to suggest aluminum in vaccinations cause any problems at all.

      I am sure you will not read this link but other may wish to.

      • bensmyson Says:

        I read it, “The calculated body burden of aluminum from vaccinations exceeds that from dietary sources, however, it is below the minimal risk level equivalent curve after the brief period following injection.”

        I’m curious what a “brief period” is, wonder how long it takes for the toxin to injure a newly formed brain.

        I’m far from being an anti-vaccine person. As the father of a vaccine injured child I’m just a little sick of people saying they are safe.

      • davidlosangeles Says:

        Hello Bensmyson,

        What you do not realize is that everybody consumes huge amounts of aluminum everyday in their diets. Aluminum is found in the tissues of all plants and animals. The concentration in foods varies widely, depending upon the product, the type of processing, and the geographical origin(Pennington, 1987). The total consumption of Al in a normal diet is believed to be between 1and 20 mg/day (Sorenson et al., 1974; Alfrey, 1983; Lione, 1983). The richest natural dietary sources of Al are herbs and tea leaves. Tea infusates contain up to 0.5 mg Al/100g and ingestion of 8 oz of tea with each meal would add 1 to 3 mg Al to the diet (Greger, 1985). Baxter et al.(1990) found the Al concentration in infant formulas based on cow’s milk ranged from 0.03mg/L to 0.2 mg/L. Higher amounts were present in soya-based formulas: 0.64 mg/L to 1.34mg/L. Aluminum salts are used as emulsifiers in some processed cheese (700 g/g), in some baking powders (20-26 mg/g), cake mixes and pickled vegetables (Lione, 1983). There are some indications that the 20 mg/d estimate may be high, as analysis of the Al content of a controlled diet indicated total dietary Al to be only 2.45 mg/day (Gorski et al., 1979). In a Finnish study(Koivistoinen, 1960) daily intake of Al from food was calculated to be 6.7 mg. Pennington et al.(1987) reported that daily intakes of Al, based on analysis of diets, for eight age-sex groups ranged from two to 14 mg/day. Pennington (1987) noted that the major sources of Al in daily diets are probably grain products, processed cheese, tea, herbs, spices, and salt containing Al additives. Al containing food additives make a significant contribution to Al intake from food.Based on the quantities of Al food additives used daily Al intake was estimated to be 19-20mg/day, an alternate estimate of Al intake. Greger (1985) assessed the amount of Al present in the diets of Americans. He estimated that Al content of a diet (with salt and herbs, all foods cooked in aluminum pans) for a 30-year old male was 26.5 mg/day with 1.2 mg from tea. Much larger amounts (1 g or more per day) are consumed by those taking antacids in which Al(OH)3 is one of the main ingredients (Lione, 1985). Aluminum salts are common buffers indrugs. Buffered aspirin contains up to 50 mg Al per tablet (Crapper McLachlan and Farnell,1985). Aluminum may comprise 25 percent by weight of antiperspirants, either powders or solutions. While uptake of Al from these products is uncertain, they represent another possible household source. The transfer from cooking utensils or foil of Al to foods on contact, handling,or cooking has been estimated to be less than 0.1 mg/100 g for 47 percent of food items and less than 1 mg/100 g for 85 percent of foods. Acidic foods leach out the largest amounts ofaluminum (Nieboer et al., 1995). Kandiah and Kies (1994) observed that canned soft drink fed rats had significantly higher blood, liver and bone Al concentrations than rats that were given glass bottled soft drink. There was 69 percent higher bone Al concentration and 16 percent lower femur weight in rats fed Al-canned soft drink compared to rats fed distilled water.

        Given how much aluminum people consume on a daily basis, including children, the amount of aluminum found in SOME vaccines is trivially small.

        This from the Public Health Goal for Aluminum which was prepared by the California EPA’s Office of Health Hazard Assessment.

      • bensmyson Says:

        davidlosangeles, exactly how does aluminum work in a vaccine, what are the contraindicators associated with the other antigens? What happens to an infant that is injected with these things the first day he is born?

  5. bensmyson Says:

    Groundbreaking Primate Study Links Mercury Vaccine Preservative to Brain Injury

    October 12th, 2009

    A new study in the leading scientific journal NeuroToxicology lends further credence to parents and scientists concerned about an increasingly aggressive childhood vaccine schedule and toxic vaccine components. A team led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that infant macaque monkeys receiving a single Hepatitis B vaccine containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal underwent significant delays in developing critical reflexes controlled by the brainstem. The infant macaques that did not receive vaccines developed normally.

    Government vaccine guidelines were expanded in 1991 to include a Hepatitis B vaccine for infants within the first few days…

  6. bensmyson Says:

    The 1 in 100 number just now released were from a study of 8 year olds done in 2001.

    Manufacturers agreed to remove it as a preservative from almost all childhood vaccines starting in 1999.

    By January 2002 the last vials of most of those containing thimerosal preservative expired many still have trace amounts.

    However there are many vaccines still on the marketplace that contain mercury.

    You were saying?

    • davidlosangeles Says:

      Hello Benismyson,

      Now for some science, if the organic mercury used as a bactericide were the cause of autism, then as the concentration per shot and the total number of shots containing any organic mercury have declined, the number of cases of autism and the severity of the cases should decline as well. Despite this, the number of prevalence of autism have increased. So unless Thirmosol prevents autism, there is no relationship between thimerosal and autism. There is a basic bit of toxicological thinking, which is for a causal relationship, there has to be a “dose-response”relationship, the higher the dose, the greater the effect. Since the overall dose has clearly been dropping, there should have been a drop in the response (autism). Since this has not happened, there is no causal relationship.

      • bensmyson Says:

        Perhaps you didn’t read my last post. The CDC studies released regarding the 1 in 150 number and the 1 in 100 number released last week were done on 8 year olds. The 8 year olds were studied in 2000 and 2002. This means they would have been born in 1992 and 1994. Mercury was still in the vaccines.

        Do I believe mercury is the sole reason for autism numbers jumping? No. As I understand this “Paranoia Strikes Deep” Connor is afraid his grandparents will die if they don’t get a vaccine. The claim is people have unreasonable fears of the safety of vaccines.

      • davidlosangeles Says:

        Hello Bensmyson,

        You wrote: “As I understand this “Paranoia Strikes Deep” Connor is afraid his grandparents will die if they don’t get a vaccine. The claim is people have unreasonable fears of the safety of vaccines.”

        People already have died from the 2009 strain of H1N1 (“Swine Flu”). Had they been vaccinated, they probably would not have died.

        Vaccines are extremely effective, just anyone you know who has had small pox or polio in the last 40 year. Oh, yeah, there are none.

    • davidlosangeles Says:

      Hello Bensmyson,

      Aluminum adjuvants stimulate the immune system to make vaccines more effective.

      The doses are incredibly small when compared to the total aluminum intake of the average American.

      • bensmyson Says:

        “Stimulate” means to compromise the immune system so that the injected virus can establish itself long enough in order to create an immunity. In people with existing weakened immune system this can be extremely dangerous.

      • davidlosangeles Says:

        Hello benismyson,

        –verb (used with object)
        1. to rouse to action or effort, as by encouragement or pressure; spur on; incite: to stimulate his interest in mathematics.
        2. Physiology, Medicine/Medical. to excite (a nerve, gland, etc.) to its functional activity.

  7. bensmyson Says:

    “The mechanism of adjuvanticity of aluminum compounds includes formation of a depot; efficient uptake of aluminum adsorbed antigen particles by antigen presenting cells due their particulate nature and optimal size (<10 µm); and stimulation of immune competent cells of the body through activation of complement, induction of eosinophilia and activation of macrophages. Limitations of aluminum adjuvants include local reactions, augmentation of IgE antibody responses, ineffectiveness for some antigens and inability to augment cell-mediated immune responses, especially cytotoxic T-cell responses."

    Eosinophilia is the formation and accumulation of an abnormally high number of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in the blood or body tissues. Eosinophils are created in the bone marrow and are found in the bloodstream and the gut lining. They contain proteins that help the body fight infection from parasitic organisms, such as worms.

    In certain diseases, however, these proteins can damage the body.

    • davidlosangeles Says:

      Hello Bensmyson,

      Eosinophilia occurs in a wide range of conditions. Its commonest causes in the UK for example are allergic diseases such as asthma and hay fever, whereas worldwide the main cause is parasitic infection. It can also occur in relation to common skin diseases, medicine reactions, and parasitic infections. Other rarer causes include, lung diseases, vasculitis, lymphoma, liver cirrhosis.

      You will note that there are no documented cases of pathogenic eosinophilia caused by aluminum in general or aluminum adjuvants in particular. Again, the amount of aluminum that one gets from a vaccination is tiny compared to that amount of aluminum that an individual in the UK might get from drinking tea.

  8. bensmyson Says:

    From your link

    “induction of eosinophilia”

    Induction – the act or process of inducting, the act of causing or bringing on or about

    Aluminum adjuvants cause eosinophilia.

    In certain diseases, these proteins can damage the body.

    What diseases might those be? Measles, mumps, rubella?

    • davidlosangeles Says:

      Hello Bensmyson,

      You have confused pathogenic eosinophilia with therapeutic eosinophilia. Both of course involve the production of above normal concentrations of white blood cells. In most cases, this is a good thing, as in during vaccination (therapeutic). It is only in a few cases is it a bad thing, as in those I mentioned (pathogenic). As I noted, there are no documented cases of aluminum producing producing pathogenic eosinophilia. I of course already listed the diseases which are associated with pathogenic eosinophilia. Generally it is caused by an allergic reaction or parasitic infection.

      In any event, this is entirely beside the point, even if aluminum did produce pathogenic eosinophilia, that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. The symptoms of eosinophilia are severe muscle pain, tenosynovitis, muscle edema, skin rash which have nothing to do with with autism.

  9. bensmyson Says:

    Jonas Salk, inventor of the IPV, testified before a Senate subcommittee that nearly all polio outbreaks since 1961 were caused by the oral polio vaccine.

    “These data show that DPT vaccination may be a generally unrecognised major cause of sudden infant and early childhood death, and that the risks of immunisation may outweigh its potential benefits. A need for re-evaluation and possible modification of current vaccination procedures is indicated by this study.” –William C. Torch, M.D., Director of Child Neurology, Department of Paediatrics, University of Nevada School of Medicine

    “By the (U.S.) government’s own admission, there has been a 41% failure rate in persons who were previously vaccinated against the (measles) virus.” — Dr. Anthony Morris, John Chriss, BG Young, “Occurrence of Measles in Previously Vaccinated Individuals,” 1979; presented at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology at Fort Detrick, Maryland, April 27, 1979.

    “There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them, anyway.” — Dr. J. Anthony Morris (formerly Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the US Federal Drug Admin.)

    “Our results suggest that infants whose mothers are born since measles vaccine licensure in 1963 are significantly more susceptible to measles than are infants of older mothers and that the risk of measles increases incrementally with each year increase in the maternal year of birth.” — “Increased Susceptibility to Measles in Infants in the United States,” Pediatrics, Nov. 5, 1999.

    The strong association between vaccination with RRV-TV and intussusception among otherwise healthy infants supports the existence of a causal relation. — Intussusception among infants given an oral rotavirus vaccine., Murphy TV, et al. Epidemiology and Surveillance Division, National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, N Engl J Med. 2001 Feb 22;344(8):564-72.

    “The (Illinois) department followed the recommendation of a panel of experts, its Immunization Advisory Committee, while rejecting the advice of others who thought the decision should be left to parents and pediatricians. But in what critics consider a conflict of interest, 5 of the committee’s 18 members have financial ties to Merck, which makes the chickenpox vaccine. Two members of the committee have given talks for Merck, receiving up to $750 per speech. A third member directs a nonprofit group that has received $20,000 in grant money from the company. And two other members own stock in Merck, including one who has owned as much as $16,000 worth.” – (Sun Times, January 27, 2002)

    • davidlosangeles Says:

      Hello Bensmyson,

      You wrote: “Jonas Salk, inventor of the IPV, testified before a Senate subcommittee that nearly all polio outbreaks since 1961 were caused by the oral polio vaccine.”

      In the US this may well be true because vaccination programs have wiped out polio “in the wild”. The only way a person can get polio in this country is through vaccination. There have been no cases of polio in the US for 20 years. A huge public health boon to the American people, brought about by vaccination. The same is true of small pox except it is complete eliminated world wide. There has not been a single case of small pox anywhere in the world

      I will ask again, do you personally know anyone who has been vaccinated against polio, small pox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping cough, or any other serious illness? Of course not, these diseases are moving close to elimination as vaccination programs advance. Vaccinations work and you cannot site a single individual that you know who has had any of these diseases in the last quarter of a century, certainly none who was vaccinated.

      • bensmyson Says:

        Unfortunately my son developed the measles which was a cause in part of his encephalitis, which caused the brain injury that now presents itself as autism. He had an MMRV vaccine, ProQuad. However, there is no evidence he got the virus from the vaccine unless we do a biopsy and/or a lumbar puncture. In our discussion with the CDC the closest other case of measles was 90 miles away.

      • davidlosangeles Says:

        Hello Bensmyson,

        I am very sorry for you and your son. There are no words I can write that can help you or ease the pain that you feel but know that you have my thoughts.

      • bensmyson Says:

        Thanks David, admittedly I do not know why or how or even what caused his autism, I do know there is a chance that we will someday discover that some children are perhaps predisposed to injury by vaccine. My son’s immune system was pretty weak the day he got his shots, he was recovering from a serious fever (107)related to Roseola, a herpes virus in the family of chicken pox. He showed no signs of distress or any behavorial changes. He met and surpassed every milestone, including the development of language. The last sentence he spoke for a year was the night of his 8 vaccines on the 366th day of his life. He was chronically ill with fevers and seizures for many months thereafter. His behavior changed completely. All his motor skills and language were extremely altered and even continue this way today. This may have been a coincidence but recently a study was done, an evaluation was done on him in a university setting and a review of home movies showing him before and after. The lead behaviorist, who serves on the Board of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) an organization far,far from being anti-vax, told me that she could not rule out vaccines as the cause of his injury.

        What are the odds right? Well I have one child and that child got injured. So in my experience the odds are 1:1.

        I know this ends the debate, hard to keep it going but I hope you understand that some of these people who’s paranoia may end up killing Connor’s granny one day because they refuse to go along with the risk, do have very personal reasons based on experience. Science may say otherwise, but there is some science out there yet to be discovered. That you have to admit is a possibility.

        Thanks for the discussion.

        Ben’s dad.

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