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October 14, 2009

Swine flu paranoia from the left and the right

When it comes to the H1N1 virus, falsehoods, half-truths and straight wackiness abound. So perhaps it's no surprise that even some of the nation's popular commentators are taking to the airwaves with their own brand of swine flu paranoia.

First, from the left: Talk show host Bill Maher, technically a Libertarian, but he's got a big lefty following, has said he doesn't think healthy people can come down with the flu (false) and discouraged pregnant women from getting vaccinated (even though they are at higher risk for complications and death from the virus).

He even told his Twitter followers that people who get the shot are "idiots." Now, that's just mean! Maher told Bill Frist, a doctor and former Republican Senate Majority Leader that the vaccine puts "a disease into your arm.” No. While the nasal spray version of the vaccine contains a form of the live virus -- though much weakened -- the flu shot is made of a killed virus.  The NYT Well blog breaks it down further.

The right's at it too: Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck have both suggested that the vaccine may be unsafe and that it's the latest example of the government overreaching into Americans' private lives.

The liberal group Media Matters has even compiled the details of their concerns, including this quote by Limbaugh: "Screw you, Ms. Sebelius! I am not going to take it, precisely because you're now telling me I must." (In reference to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.)


Folks here and here have already come out to blast these opinions, specifically Maher's. Here's some good commentary by the folks at Discover Magazine's Bad Astronomy blog, with a clip of the interview exchange between Maher and First.

What do you think?


Posted by Kelly Brewington at 7:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Swine flu/H1N1


I know it's somewhat off-topic but I'm extemely aggravated that every day I hear more about how deadly the Swine Flu can be and to get your vaacine. But, where are the vaacines??? I work in health care and can't get one for me, let alone my teenager who I really want one for.

Funny that a word like "paranoia" would be used to describe those opposed to getting this shot. Have you been paying attention to the paranoia that went into promoting the shot? It seems to me that the backlash is directly proportional to the assault.

I certainly understand a parent's reluctance to give their child the H1N1 vaccine; however, it seems to me that there is a fairly great risk, probably greater than 50% chance, that a child will get the swine flu. While there may be a slight risk of adverse effects from the vaccine (apparently very slight), I believe that the chance of serious consequences that may result from the disease itself including death (especially for immunocompromised as well as children with chronic lung disease), far outweigh the possible adverse effects of the vaccine itself. We will not have an absolute answer to this question in the near future...certainly not before this flu season passes. Hopefully we will all make an educated decision that turns out to be the right decision.

I want to know what makes any of these media personalities qualified to dispense this kind of information. Where and when did they go to medical school? Their large, devoted audiences plus their lack of expertise (or even basic knowledge!) on the topic is a scary combination...

I hope Limbaugh, Beck ,and Maher all get the Swine Flu. These three and others who believe them are ultimately putting children and teens at risk.
Where is the vaccine? Well, it has to be created in labs, tested on humans to make sure it's safe and effective, and, after FDA approval, manufactured (the virus is grown as a culture on chicken eggs, then weakened (nasal spray) or killed (shots)), then shipped. As of 2-3 yearsago, no pharamceutical companies in the US are creating flu vaccine (I hope thats changed) because the cost of litigation outweighs the profit in selling the vaccine. I've been reading that the dead-virus vaccine will be available by the beginning of November. And I'll be in line as soon as they allow those of us who don't have the risk factors to get the shot.

Read the news. Joyce, call your doctor. He/she may have some now, maybe not. It's being shipped to local doctor's offices, hospitals and health departments as fast as they can get it, according to what I read.

Backlash? Assault? Read about it and make a decision. But, using vaccine as some metaphor for political correctness by a right-wing nut job doesn't qualify as intelligent discourse. Whiney, complain-about-anything "they" do, not matter what they do, is more like it.

From what I read, if you don't get the vaccine, you might get sick. If you get sick, chances are you'll get better in 6 or 7 days. But, you might get others sick and among those people might be people who don't recover so well, so fast.

Relax people. It's not that difficult.

Where can I get flu vaccines

Commentators without MD or OD after their names need to stick to their usual political rhetoric. Didn't Dr.Sanjay Gupta of CNN get H1N1? I'll listen to him while I sign up for my vaccine.

i want a swine flu shot, but i'm not in any of the high-risk categories...booooo!!!!!

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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