Fleischmann deliberates on swine flu vaccine

Allison Lazarus

By Lilly Fleischmann ’11, Contributor

News of the swine flu injection’s upcoming arrival at the doors of CCDS has traveled swiftly among the student body. Some responded indifferently, others refused, and some needle-phobics like me were unwillingly volunteered by their parents. The response of the media, as well, has differed and therefore divulged an abundance of Internet-based information telling all sides of the swine flu story.

On page 1 of a Google search, Mike Adams of naturalnews.com presents perhaps the most radical opposition to the vaccine. In his article “Vaccine revolt! Swine flu vaccine support crumbles as flimsy rationale for H1N1 shots becomes apparent,” Adams supposedly debunks claims made by drug companies and the Food and Drug Administration concerning the swine flu injection. He argues that the vaccine is unnecessary because, although the infection rate for swine flu is high, it is not any higher than that of a normal seasonal flu. According to Adams’s sources, the vaccine, although proven to produce antibodies against swine flu, does not provide real-world protection against the virus and has not been properly tested for safety. He also claims that drug companies are intentionally hiding safer and more effective options for treatment and prevention of swine flu.

In the same Google-provided search, an Associated Press article reported at MSNBC goes straight to the source, United States health officials. The warning these top officials give is that the risks of not getting the vaccine are greater than the risks of the vaccine itself. The article takes into account the FDA’s surprise at the profusion of misinformation in circulation, as well as its insistence that the vaccine is safe based on the good safety record of past vaccines. Overall, health officials recommend the vaccine as the best method of protection against both the swine and the regular flu, despite what Mike Adams may believe.

Perhaps best for students at CCDS are the impartial articles describing the virus itself. After just one 15-minute Google search, I found myself armed with swine flu facts. The H1N1 virus displays symptoms similar to those of the seasonal flu. Laboratory testing is required to confirm swine flu. Respiratory failure, pneumonia, and high fever rank among the top causes of death associated with swine flu. Washing hands often, covering your nose and mouth during a cough or sneeze, and avoiding contact with others are some of the best ways to avoid contracting the virus.

If I wasn’t convinced yet by the common causes of death linked to swine flu, I was by the idea of a pandemic. United Nations health officials have already declared the swine flu to be just that, a global disease. In this light, the arrival of the vaccine at CCDS seems more like a valuable opportunity than a miserable obligation. I, for one, will not be going about the world unprotected, even if I have been praying for the unsavory-yet-much-less-malicious nasal spray form of inoculation… and will continue to do so until my experience is over.

Photo courtesy of babble.com.