He’s at it again. Lawrence Solomon has unleashed yet another heaping pile of cow dung onto his Huffington Post blog space. This time, he’s telling us that we “may” be better off without the flu vaccine. Why? What kind of fabulous insight “may” this non-epidemiologist, self-deluded fool have?
I wish I had more time. He begins:
“In Australia and New Zealand, two vaccines produced by CSL Biotherapies, one of the world’s largest influenza vaccine manufacturers, led in 2010 to some 1,700 alarming results — febrile convulsions, high fevers, and vomiting — most of them involving small children. The harm was especially borne by those under three years of age – CSL’s Fluvax Junior vaccine sent 4 per cent of these infants into febrile convulsions, its Fluvax vaccine 5 per cent. During a febrile convulsion a child often loses consciousness and shakes, generally for a minute or two, sometimes for 15 minutes or more. Because the flu season hits the southern hemisphere first, CSL’s flu vaccines were pulled from the much larger North American market before a similar disaster could befall our children.”
Ah, yes. You see, if 4% or 5% of people who get a vaccine have a severe side effect, it must be because 100% of the vaccine supply is tainted. That, or as Lawrence Solomon “may” have us believe, the other 95% or 96% will react the same way.
“Pandemrix, a GlaxoSmithKline vaccine used in Europe during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic season, was found by studies in Finland, Sweden, France, Ireland and the UK to have caused some800 cases of narcolepsy, mostly in youths and in adults under age 40.”
Of course, like in his last bit of nonsense, LS has decided to conveniently disregard more recent evidence on the case of Pandemrix. As it turns out, the vaccine triggered an auto-immune condition in a subset of the population. This auto-immune condition affected the neurons of these folks, causing the narcolepsy. But how common was it? Was it the alarming rate that LS “may” want us to believe? In one word, no. In many words:
“The disease was very rare, affecting at most one in 15,000 vaccinated children in the Nordic countries, where most young people were vaccinated. Fewer were vaccinated elsewhere, so there may not have been enough narcolepsy cases to detect statistically, says Miriam Sturkenboom of Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who led the study.”
For reference, influenza will kill more than 1 in 15,000 who get it. It will send to the hospital more than 1 in 15,000 who get it. It will keep from school/work more than 1 in 15,000 who get it. Like I told you before, we need to weigh the benefits to the risks. The risks from getting the flu are very, very high. The risks from getting the vaccine are very, very, very, very, very,very small. The benefits are huge, no matter what Peter Doshi, PhD, another non-epidemiologist, “may” want you to believe.
And so it goes with the newest anti-vaccine nut to get a public writing space. I’m taking bets on how long it will take Lawrence Solomon to claim a multinational conspiracy. Any takers?