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My Turn: You deserve to know about, question vaccines

With the troubling “no exceptions” flu shot mandates for health care workers and the government’s “cradle to grave” annual flu shot recommendation for everyone over 6 months old, the public is asking legitimate questions about the safety, effectiveness and necessity of this policy. For the facts, I recommend the National Vaccine Information Center at nvic.org as your first resource in seeking the information you need to make an informed vaccine decision for yourself or your children.

Many people tell me they are often laughed at when they report illness and injuries following vaccination to their doctors. Are medical professionals fulfilling their legal obligation to report vaccine-related health problems to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System?

Has there been good scientific evidence that actual outcomes after influenza vaccination result in a reduction in illness or deaths? Every year before influenza vaccines are released for public use, drug companies only have to show that the vaccines stimulate a certain number of antibodies to be considered “effective”; they don’t actually have to demonstrate the vaccines prevent infection.

Many people who think they have influenza actually are sick with an influenza-like illness caused by other respiratory viruses. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that only 15 to 20 percent of the suspected cases of influenza that are tested by the CDC each year turn out to be positive for type A or type B influenza viruses.

But what about influenza deaths? The reality is that the CDC does not know how many influenza deaths occur annually because all the evidence isn’t being collected. Last year, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services reported that there were 44 influenza-related deaths. So how many of the 44 people in New Hampshire, who were classified as influenza-related deaths, had been “protected” by a flu shot?

I wrote the state and asked how many of these 44 deceased citizens had gotten a flu shot. I didn’t ask for any information protected by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that would identify the patients – just a vaccination status number. I was given excuses ranging from HIPAA protections to “we don’t know.” The public deserves to know how many had gotten flu shots but still were infected with lab-confirmed influenza and then died. Apparently, either nobody knows or nobody is talking.

Since it is flu-shot season, it was appropriate to run the Nov. 10 Monitor ad raising questions about the influenza vaccine and providing informational resources, even though the ad has generated comments from some who are upset that anybody would ask questions about a government-mandated pharmaceutical product. The ad encourages adults and parents of children being aggressively lobbied to purchase and receive influenza vaccine every year to obtain accurate and complete information about vaccine ingredients, side effects, contra-indications and how effective the vaccine is in preventing infection.

Vaccines, like all pharmaceutical products, are not without risks of harm or failure. These risks can be greater for some individuals than others because we do not all respond the same way to prescription drugs or vaccines. The smart patient will tune out the fear mongering and get the facts about influenza and influenza vaccines, as well as become educated about other potentially safer and more effective options for strengthening the immune system and staying well during the flu season.

I appreciate the support of Crossroads Chiropractic in making it possible to provide this public service message, and I appreciate the Concord Monitor for providing the forum for public discussion. You can get more information about influenza and influenza vaccines at nvic.org. Remember: It’s your body. It’s your health. It’s your choice.

(Laura Condon is New Hampshire director of advocacy for the National Vaccine Information Center.)

Legacy Comments2

The public should know that the National Vaccine Information Center is just that, a resource for vaccine information. You will find on this site information about the suggested benefits of vaccines along with links to such sites as the CDC, the FDA, the prescribing information for each vaccine supplied by the manufacturers, and links to federal and state law. You will find information about some of the concerns relative to vaccines and links to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. You will find information about your rights to be exempt from vaccination. Everyone certainly has the human right to ask questions about these biological products and expect scientific answers and the facts on all that is known about vaccines…the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, you are the one who has to live with your vaccine decision. Your choice should be an informed choice on how to best protect your health. It is a shame that Linda Tock would mock the valuable information that NVIC shares and the concern about those who die from influenza-related causes. Should your right to the facts be limited? Don’t you want to know if the flu vaccine prevents or contributes to deaths? Ms. Tock does raise some important concerns however. These are questions that I too have asked. What about the statistics on morbidity? With the increase in use of the flu vaccine shouldn’t we see a reduction in both morbidity and mortality? I have seen no evidence that the CDC’s regular reporting of these statistics shows any decrease as the level of flu vaccination increases. Shouldn’t we expect that would be the result of these pharmaceuticals if they were indeed effective? And we absolutely want to know if those who succumb to influenza have underlying health conditions. Did they get sick and die because influenza is that deadly or did they get sick and die because their health status is fragile? And did they get sick and die after vaccination? What we do know is that the vast majority of “influenza-related” deaths are not attributable to influenza at all. Most of these deaths are death of seniors attributable to pneumonia with a presumption that at some point they probably had the flu. I’m sure the trusting public assumes that if the NH DHHS reports a flu death that certainly there is lab confirmation of that. Sadly that simply is not the case. So I agree with Ms. Tock. There is much information we don’t have and aren’t being told. Isn’t it time we had those facts? Vaccination is often held up as the best or even only way to strengthen health and prevent illness without any study that would even compare vaccination to the immune boosting benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle along with good old fashioned hand washing. While it may be one option that some would consider, it certainly has yet to prove itself as the best or safest option. Please make an informed decision.

Ms. Condon's post contains the typical 'talking points' of the known anti-vaccine organization NVIC. She focuses on mortality - the 44 deaths. She ignores the morbidity - the number of influenza cases. Why doesn't she want to know how many people who didn't die of the flu (or come down with it) were vaccinated? Because it doesn't suit her agenda. She doesn't ask whether or not those individuals had underlying conditions which could have contributed to their death - because that doesn't suit her agenda. The agenda of the NVIC is to bring the vaccination program in the United States to its knees - thereby endangering the health of everyone.

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