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?