T he rush to approve the vaccine for the H1N1 flu - also known as swine or "novel flu" - was based on a combination of the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and uninformed decisions by the awkward alliance of public health and federal emergency management officials.
At an international swine flu conference in the nation's capital in September, some public health and medical officials expressed bewilderment over federal, state and local emergency personnel talking of implementing "riot control" at vaccination stations, mandatory quarantines, forced vaccinations of certain sectors of the population and even "mass fatality management." The rush of the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health in endorsing the swine flu vaccine has created fear, suspicion, and angst among both the general public and the health provider community.
Not assuaging fears about the H1N1 vaccine are the results of President Gerald Ford's 1976 order for a nationwide swine flu vaccination program after an outbreak of the flu at Fort Dix, N.J.
In subsequent years, reports surfaced of complications from the vaccine that resulted in cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neuromuscular ailment, and autism, the latter afflicting children who received the vaccine, which reportedly resulted from the presence of thimerosal - a preservative that containsmercury.
Added to the H1N1 vaccine is an oily concoction called squalene that has been shown to cause severe autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis and lupus.
Four New York state nurses recently filed suit before the New York Supreme Court asking it to overturn an order that requires all health-care workers in the state to get both the seasonal and swine flu vaccinations. Even exemptions for religious beliefs were disallowed by the New York State Health Commission.
A British poll this past summer revealed that one-third of British nurses would resist taking the swine flu vaccine and a sizeable number of British doctors and health-care workers in Hong Kong agreed with the assessment of the British nurses that the vaccine was not properly tested.
An Associated Press-GfK poll taken in early October - as the autumn H1N1 pandemic wave began to peak - showed that more than a third of parents in the United States would refuse to have their children injected with the swine flu vaccine.
In the rush to approve the swine flu vaccine as "safe," the Canadian federal government suspiciously decided to offer immunity from lawsuits to the manufacturers of the vaccine.
The Canadian action followed four Canadian research studies that concluded people who had received the seasonal flu vaccine were more likely to contract the H1N1/swine flu virus.
While New York was forcing health-care workers to receive both the seasonal and the swine flu vaccines, three Canadian provinces - Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan - delayed their seasonal flu vaccination program based on the Canadian studies.
European health experts were also quick to point out multinational pharmaceutical giants stand to make handsome profits from the sale of H1N1 vaccines.
Coupled with the fear associated with the swine flu vaccine is the mystery surrounding the genesis of the H1N1 virus.
Blossoming in several "hot zones" in Mexico in April of this year, the highly virulent influenza strain quickly spread to the United States and Canada. There were also reports from around the world - from Brazil to Denmark and Thailand to Hong Kong - that the H1N1 virus was rapidly mutating into forms that made it resistant to the anti-viral drug Tamiflu.
After all the reassurances about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine by senior U.S. government officials, including President Obama himself, the campaign appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
Increasingly Americans - asked to trust their government with their health - are resisting this wholesale violation of their civil liberties. When all is said and done, it's likely they'll be glad they "just said no."
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