Saturday, October 17, 2009

Concerns about the vaccine for the swine flu

A lot of people are getting worked up about H1N1, often called the swine flu.  I must admit that I'm not too worried about the virus itself.  However, I am worried about the vaccine.

In normal times, a drug must undergo extensive testing, often for years, before it is allowed to be sold to the public.  The H1N1 vaccine, however, has gone through these approval stages like a "drive-thru". That's not some conspiracy theory I read in the National Enquirer.  It came out of the mouths of Canada's top health officials.

Last week, I was watching CBC NewsWorld.  There was a press conference on the vaccine being given by the federal Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, and Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones.  They explained that the vaccine is already in mass production with the goal of being rolled out to the public at the beginning of November.  Yet, they also admitted, on two separate occasions, that the vaccine has not been approved by Health Canada and that they are still awaiting some test results about this vaccine.

Does that strike you as odd?  To me, it sounds like the proverbial cart before the horses.  Why would you go into mass production before the vaccine is completely tested and approved?  If it turns out to be a dud, are they going to trash millions of vaccines?  That's our tax dollars.

I'm surprised at the lack of media interest for this issue.  The journalists at the press conference didn't seem too preoccupied by the lack of testing.  On the contrary, they were more interested in knowing why the vaccine wasn't made available sooner.  In the absence of proper media scrutiny, the Internet has been flooded with ridiculous conspiracy theories about how this vaccine is intentionally being designed to kill zillions of people.  Give me a break.  Proper testing protocols may have been skipped, but let's not go off the deep end either.

Given the lack of scientific evidence, I personally will not get vaccinated.  Sorry, but you won't inject me with something that hasn't been proven safe.  

I'm not giving any recommendations to anybody on this issue.  You make up your own mind and don't blame me for the consequences.  I'm just telling you about my apprehensions. 

For the record (lest I be accused of some strange backwardness), I am totally in favour of vaccination programs when a vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective.  I have no moral issues with vaccination.  I think vaccines are a great progress for mankind.  BUT, they have to be proven safe and effective.  In my humble opinion, that hasn't been done in this case.