By Linda G. Rastelli
Oct 20, 2009
In June the (WHO) declared the H1N1 swine flu virus to be a “global pandemic,” and the resulting headlines terrified many Americans.1
The United States reports the largest number of novel H1N1 cases of any country, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, most people who catch the virus recover “without requiring medical treatment.”2
Still, the word “pandemic” can be intimidating, with its connotations of death and general panic. Don’t worry, says Vicky Debold, consumer representative to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), who explains that the official definition of pandemic was recently changed by WHO so that a high mortality rate is no longer necessary for a disease to qualify as a pandemic. The U.S. government declared a public health emergency in order to ensure access to funds if the virus should become more dangerous, a contingency that Debold, in an interview with Mothering, says now seems unlikely.3 (See Related Interview with Vicki Debold)
The H1N1 virus is no more dangerous than the , she explains. And the CDC itself notes that the pandemic was declared only because of “the spread of the new H1N1 virus, not the caused by the virus.”4
At the recent International (NVIC) Conference held in Reston, Virginia, experts disagreed on the safety and even the efficacy of vaccines. Debold, and other conference speakers such as Dr. , raised concerns about the safety of a proposed adjuvant, or additive, to the swine flu vaccine known as squalene.
Debold is also concerned about the lack of data on how people with compromised or other illnesses respond to the H1N1 vaccine. Testing is done only on healthy groups because of ethical concerns, she says, but questions whether this policy makes sense. (See Related Interview with Vicki Debold)
A few speakers at the conference, titled “Show Us the Science and Give Us the Choice,” questioned the wisdom of vaccinating under any circumstances.
Vaccines are unnecessary, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, who spoke at the conference about strengthening one’s immune system as the best defense against illness. “There are dangerous contaminants in the swine flu vaccine, independent of the vaccine itself, which has never been proven to be safe. There’s no need. It’s not a dangerous illness. Would you take a vaccine for a cold?” he said in an interview, adding, “Vitamin D is probably the most important thing you can do for your health."5
Another speaker, Dr. Bob Sears, admitted to having departed from the conventional vaccination advice of his famous father, “Dr. Bill” Sears, by recommending alternative vaccine schedules in “The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child.” Dr. Sears said he considers most vaccines effective and safe but parents need to make careful decisions.6
Dr. Larry Palevsky, a Long Island pediatrician and president of the Holistic Pediatric Association, believes that the H1N1 viral illness itself is likely to be milder than the side effects of the vaccine.
“I see fewer acute and chronic health problems in children who are non-vaccinated than I do in children who are vaccinated,” he says.7
To learn the contents of the approved vaccines, you can read the package inserts (which some doctors may not readily provide) on the FDA’s website.
Whether you to decide to vaccinate or not, it’s worth heeding the FDA’s advice regarding the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- If a tissue is not available cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. You should wash your hands as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.8
Please view the Related Interview with Vicki Debold.
You can visit the NVIC website for more information on NVIC conferences and the NVIC mission.
View the Mothering Special Report on the Swine Flu.
Linda G. Rastelli is an award-winning journalist and editor who specializes in health, education and business. She and Stephen M. Shore are the co-authors of Understanding Autism For Dummies.
1. World Health Organization website. Accessed Oct. 9, 2009. http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html Centers for Disease Control website. Accessed Oct. 9, 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/
2. Vicky Debold, Ph.D, interview in Reston, Virginia, Oct 4, 2009.
3. Centers for Disease Control website. Accessed Oct. 9, 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/
4. Dr. Mercola, interview in Reston, Virginia, Oct 4, 2009.
5. Robert Sears, M.D., “The Alternative ,” presentation given Oct 3, 2009.
6. Lawrence Palevsky, M.D, by e-mail, Oct 7, 2009.
7.Food and Drug Administration website. Accessed Oct. 9, 2009. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm182335.htm