It is just on one year since the world first heard of swine flu. It is still extraordinary that a mild flu like illness has led to such a completely over the top behavior from “health officials”.
The program to vaccinate children aged between six months and four years has been “temporarily suspended” by the state of Western Australia. This was after at least 60 cases of adverse reactions including fever, vomiting and febrile convulsions. A number of children had to be admitted to hospital. One child remains in a critical condition. The number of reported cases is likely the tip of the iceberg and there may be hundreds if not thousands of children who have had milder reactions that are not reported.
An urgent meeting of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has been called to investigate the matter. The Australian Chief Health officer who two weeks ago sent a letter to doctors urging them to vaccinate, today said doctors should stop vaccinating children under five immediately. This response has been swift and is to be commended. There have been suggestions that these reactions have been known about for two weeks and it has been “kept quiet”. Hopefully this is not the case.
The recommendation is that everyone else can continue to be vaccinated. The reactions have been to the “seasonal” flu vaccine, which as usual has three strains. This year one of the three is H1N1 or swine flu. The chief health officer has said that it remains safe for children to have the swine flu vaccine by itself.
Here are some facts. The vaccine is tested on a small group of people and an even smaller group of children. If there is a one in 5000 reaction this may not show up in a trial of 200 but there will be 20 cases by the time 100,000 doses have been given. In 1976 a mass vaccination campaign resulted in more deaths from complications of the vaccine than of the virus. This was with a strain similar to H1N1. Clearly it is this component which is the problem.
From the outset everything to do with swine flu has been rushed and corners have been cut, based on the fear of this virus. The estimates of swine flu have been wrong from day one. The 2009 southern winter and 2010 northern winter have been the mildest, in terms of flu, for many years. Predictions of millions of deaths were ridiculously wrong and deaths were less than usual. Every year some people die in relation to flu. Most of these have other illnesses and there are a small number where there is overwhelming infection.
The USA, UK and many European countries slashed their orders for vaccines and still had many doses to spare. The Australian government is sitting on a huge stockpile of vaccines. The notion that the only way to protect yourself from flu is to be vaccinated continues to be promoted with no regard given to the fact that a competent immune system is your best protection from flu or any virus. I am yet to see any advice from health authorities on ways to strengthen your immune system.
I am not into conspiracy theories so do not see swine flu as a government plot in collaboration with the vaccine manufacturers. It is my opinion that conspiracy is not the correct interpretation of events when incompetence or stupidity would be an equally valid explanation.
This is also not a debate about vaccination per se. In the same way that if a drug is withdrawn from the market, it is about that drug, not drugs as such.
Swine flu has been a textbook health scare. The threat was way over stated and the reaction was way out of proportion to the threat. Now we have the situation where those who got it wrong are too attached to their position to admit error. The continuing push to vaccinate on the basis of fear is wrong. If even one child dies or sufferers serious harm based on a program that was not needed, then this is not acceptable.
The issue is not about the rights or wrongs of vaccination in general. It is about whipping up fear and telling people that only a vaccine can protect them from a mild illness.
The authorities got it wrong. It is time for them to fess up. Ongoing attempts to reassure the public about the safety of a vaccine, which is unnecessary, will only serve to further undermine confidence in vaccination and in health advice.
April 26 Update.
Subsequent to this blog being posted it has now been reported that a Brisbane child has died after being given the flu vaccine. The coroner will investigate the case. The child was well till the vaccine and died 12 hours later. Another child remains in a serious condition in a Perth hospital.
The death occurred on April 9, which was two weeks before the vaccination program was suspended. In the original post I expressed the hope concerns had not been kept quiet for two weeks. Apparently they have been.
It is clear. The risks of this vaccine outweigh the benefits. The death of one child from a “safe” publicly funded and government promoted program is not acceptable. The effectiveness of flu vaccine has also been questioned as I wrote on March 19.
For those wondering what is the best way not to get the flu, reproduced below is part of my blog from February 24. These principals also apply to children, obviously adjusted for age.
1) Eat a balanced diet with adequate fruit and vegetables as well as sources of essential fatty acids such as fish, olives (or olive oil), linseed or nuts.
2) In addition to this many people may benefit from vitamin supplements, particularly antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, which help the immune system. Zinc, Vitamin D and Folate supplements are also helpful.
3) Regular exercise has been shown to boost the immune system.
4) Make sure you get enough sleep, as this is the bodies recharge the battery time 5) Drink 30-35ml/kilo of water each day.
6) Most importantly examine your workload and stress levels and take steps to reduce them before they reduce your immunity to illness.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.