Thursday, July 23, 2009

Watching the Swine Flu Stream

Lesley Gunter has a good piece on the swine flu for her Gray Matters column: Fear Mongering Swine. As Lesley begins:
"
Sometimes certain things just scream CONSPIRACY. To me, swine flu is one of those things."

I agree; there's something about the swine flu saga that, when I first heard about it, just reeked of, as Lesley says, "CONSPIRACY" in big letters.

Lesley mentions yet another phrase in the plan: "hospitals need surge capacity," a term I haven't encountered yet. Aside from the vaccinations, testing and storage issues, quarantines, summer camp outbreaks, reminders that the flu will come back bigger and stronger than ever in the Fall, we are also being fed the meme that hospitals might not be able to cope with the swine flu fallout.

I've been commenting here on the vaccinations in the schools; so far, ostensibly just for students but no doubt it will be mandatory, and that goes for school staff as well. Lesley thinks so as well:
Already, there seems to be a plan forming to vaccinate school children (and probably teachers). The word "mandatory" hasn't been used yet, but I wouldn't doubt that it eventually will be and that they will force this upon anyone who must attend or work at a public school. In this article, it says that this vaccination is separate from a regular flu shot, meaning if you were really into getting flu shots, you would actually need both to be "safe."


Moving on; I notice two items in today's paper about swine flu. As I've mentioned here in other posts, it's very interesting to note the seemingly innocent little items tucked in here and there in our local papers that appear almost every day. Sometimes there are two, three or more of these little, ostensibly unrelated, news bits about some aspect of swine flu.

Actually, the first item isn't about swine flu and in fact, doesn't mention swine flu at all. Faulty storage may mean new shots for patients. 22,000 people need to get revaccinated after inspections at three different clinics revealed "errors" in vaccine storage practices. Patients won't be charged for getting revaccinated, and the article stressed that the vaccines weren't harmed; just not as effective. We have two messages in this item: one, fear and anxiety over the effectiveness and safety of vaccinations, and two, reminders that such places exist (health department, storage clinics, etc.) and to get ready for vaccination time when it comes around in October.

The second item:

On the local paper's website (Register Guard) I found the following item for today's paper, though it wasn't in the print editon, since it is a "breaking news item" Nasal-spray swine flu vaccine easier to make
Maryland-based MedImmune Inc. told the U.S. government Thursday it will only have about 14 million doses of nasal-spray vaccine bottled and ready to use in October - but that's because it can't keep up with putting the vaccine into the special sprayer. MedImmune says it will have tens of millions more doses sitting in bulk and ready to bottle.

Message: there are "only 14 million doses" ready so far. Anxiety that we won't get our vaccinations.

Centers seek volunteers to test swine flu vaccine, is the title of item in the paper, but couldn't find the article on the on-line edition. So I type in the article title: Centers seek volunteers to test swine flu vaccine, along with the journalists name; Lauran Neergaard, and the links that pop up don't go the article, but the above one about the nasal vaccine. Here's one from Fox (gasp) on the same AP release:
The government called Wednesday for several thousand volunteers to start rolling up their sleeves for the first swine flu shots, in a race to test whether a new vaccine really will protect against the virus before its expected rebound in the fall.

"to test whether a new vaccine really will ...??!!" And how much can we reasonably expect to find out in two months?

First, doctors will test different doses of the swine flu vaccine in healthy adults, including the elderly -- two shots, given 21 days apart. If there are no immediate safety concerns, such as allergic reactions, the same testing quickly will begin in babies and children,

Here's some encouraging words from Dr. William Schaffenr at Vanderbilt University, who said, when asked about the safety of the vaccine:
"It ought to be extremely safe,"

"Ought to" isn't good enough. More testing will go on, from other vaccine developers, including testing of the nasal spray.

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