Friday, September 4, 2009

SWINE FLU ARRIVES IN SARASOTA: Examining H1N1 “Swine Flu” and the Government’s Rush to Vaccinate

[NOTE: This article appears in the September edition of 'Natural Awakenings' (Sarasota & Manatee Edition), available in Health Food stores throughout Sarasota County. See also:]

Examining H1N1 “Swine Flu” and the Government’s Rush to Vaccinate
by Jason Boehk

The April debut of the novel H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”) in Mexico, which authorities blame for at least 141 deaths, generated both saturation news coverage and a near-total shutdown of Mexico City [1]. Since then, developments have transpired at a fevered pace. In July, the swine flu claimed the lives of two Sarasota men [2].

As Natural Awakenings goes to press, a pandemic has been declared [3], U.S. officials have warned that hundreds of thousands of people could die [4], an “unprecedented” U.S. mass-vaccination campaign using new vaccines will begin as early as October [5], and the Pentagon is preparing to make troops available to assist FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in dealing with an expected swine flu outbreak this fall [6]. United Kingdom officials say they will vaccinate all 8.5 million schoolchildren [7], and Greece has decreed that the swine flu vaccinations will be “mandatory” for its entire population of 12 million [8]. In the U.S., credible observers such as the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a vaccine-watchdog group founded by parents of vaccine-injured children, have raised the alarming prospect that federal and state authorities may use the spectre of the new swine flu to invoke, for the first time, post-9/11 laws and executive orders giving them authority to impose involuntary quarantine or even to forcibly vaccinate citizens. [9]

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) calls the H1N1 virus “novel” because it is a never-before-seen “quadruple reassortment” virus comprised of the genes from two swine flu strains, plus avian (bird) genes and human genes. The new swine flu has symptoms just like regular influenza, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Many people also have reported nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea [10]. To date, the CDC blames H1N1 for more than 300 U.S. deaths, and the World Health Organization (WHO) cites more than 1100 deaths worldwide. So far at least, H1N1 does not appear to be particularly lethal [11]. Nevertheless, in June, the WHO actually revised (weakened) its own pandemic definition in order to declare “pandemic” in this instance [12]. This action triggered the global rush to quickly produce millions of doses of vaccine, orders worth billions of dollars. Profits have soared for vaccine manufacturers Baxter, GlaxoSmithKline, and others. [13]

The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), working closely with the states, including Florida, is organizing a swine flu vaccination campaign of a scale not seen since the polio vaccinations of the 1950’s, and likely to begin in mid-October [14]. For some, this new campaign evokes the disastrous 1976 swine flu mass-vaccinations. More than 40 million Americans were vaccinated, but hundreds of people in the U.S. developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, a paralyzing disorder, and 25 people died. The U.S. government paid out millions of dollars in damage claims to victims or their families [15].

For the new swine flu, according to federal officials, schools may be among the primary vaccination centers. However, NVIC warns that schools may not be equipped to obey vaccine safety provisions in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which include: giving parents written information about vaccine benefits and risks before children are vaccinated; keeping a record of which vaccines the children get, including the manufacturer’s name and lot number; recording which vaccines were given in the child’s medical record; and recording serious health problems that develop after vaccination in the child’s medical record and immediately making a report to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) [16].

Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in July granted legal immunity to vaccine manufacturers and federal officials, meaning they will not be held liable for harm caused by their new swine flu vaccines [17]. With controversy already surrounding vaccine ingredients and vaccinations’ alleged links to regressive childhood autism and autoimmune disorders, this action did not sit well with vaccine critics, who cite vaccine ingredients such as thimerosol, a mercury-based preservative; ABC News reports that thimerosal will be added as a preservative in multi-dose vials of most inactivated (injected) H1N1 swine flu vaccines [18].

U.S. officials have also announced that safety testing and clinical trials of the new vaccine will be expedited (as short as a few weeks), in order to beat the feared fall-expansion of swine flu cases [19]. However, NVIC and others argue that adverse reactions often don’t reveal themselves until months after the vaccination, so this testing may be inadequate. Additionally, there will be little, if any, testing of the new swine flu vaccine in pregnant women, although they are one of the “priority” groups that CDC recommends should be among the first in line when the new vaccine is ready [20].

A June statement from WHO was read by critics as a tacit acknowledgement of a “Shoot first, ask questions later” policy:

“Since new technologies are involved in the production of some pandemic vaccines, which have not yet been extensively evaluated for their safety in certain population groups, it is very important to implement post-marketing surveillance of the highest possible quality. In addition, rapid sharing of the results of immunogenicity and post-marketing safety and effectiveness studies among the international community will be essential for allowing countries to make necessary adjustments to their vaccination policies.” [21]

Sarasota County officials say they are closely monitoring this rapidly evolving situation, consulting with state and federal agencies, and educating the community about the simple measures people can take to prevent the spread of the flu [22].

According to Dianne Shipley, MPH, Health Educator and Media Liaison for Sarasota County Health Department, swine flu vaccine is not expected to be available locally until October: “Any effort related to school-based vaccination clinics if undertaken would be a collaborative decision between the Sarasota County Health Department and the School District. The H1N1 vaccine will be completely voluntary and is not a required vaccine for school attendance. Parental consent is required.” [23]

Hopefully the swine flu scenario will not become as scary as some officials warn it might. Heed the advice of natural health experts and public health authorities regarding safe and effective ways to avoid catching the flu in the first place. Hint: wash hands thoroughly and get plenty of sleep. Parents and others who wish to avoid (or ensure that their children avoid) uninsurable or experimental swine flu vaccinations may wish to learn more about the current legal situation. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups have expressed grave concern about some of the draconian and arbitrary public health “emergency powers” laws and executive orders of recent years [24].

Perhaps the only “bright spot” in this pandemic is that it’s an opportunity for people to demand revisions to the laws so that they protect both the public health and individual liberties. For example, the model “Self-Shielding Protection Act,” drafted by Diane Miller JD, of the National Health Freedom Coalition, would give citizens the legal option in pandemics and other declared emergencies to self-quarantine (or self-shield) themselves, rather than be forced to face some of the more disturbing alternatives (such as involuntary quarantine) envisioned by FEMA and other government agencies [25].

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC):
National Health Freedom Coalition:
National Health Federation:
The draft model “Self-Shielding Protection Act”:
Sarasota County Health Department:
Florida Dept. of Health:

Citations for this article can be found at ‘Sarasota for Vaccination Choice’ (SVC) at


[1] Note: the flu probably first appeared in March, but became widespread in April.

'Three Amigos' Summit To Focus On Swine Flu, Trade:

Mexico imposes swine flu measures:

[2] Second man's death linked to swine flu:

[3] World Health Organization. Statement to media by Margaret Chan, M.D.: World now at the start of 2009 influenza pandemic. June 11, 2009.

[4] Swine flu could kill hundreds of thousands in U.S. if vaccine fails, CDC says:,0,3387335.story

[5] Swine flu shot campaign could involve 600M doses:

[6] CNN: Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak:

Military Poised to Help FEMA Battle Swine Flu Outbreak:

[7] Fears as Pupils Get Swine Flu Jab:

[8] Greece to vaccinate population for swine flu:

[9] Swine Flu Vaccine: Will We Have a Choice?

[10] Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You:

[11] Novel H1N1 Flu: Facts and Figures:

[12] 'A Whole Industry Is Waiting For A Pandemic':,1518,637119,00.html

[13] Glaxo: 9 more countries order swine flu vaccine:

Drug groups to reap swine-flu billions:

[14] Florida prepares for huge swine flu shot program:
THE MIAMI HERALD • July 10, 2009

Agencies to set up mass swine flu vaccinations:

[15] Swine flu 'debacle' of 1976 is recalled

[16] Swine Flu Vaccine Should Not Be Given to Children in Schools:

[17] Legal immunity set for swine flu vaccine makers

[18] Will Thimerosal Put a Cloud Over Swine Flu Vaccinations?

Introduction to Autism Information:

Vaccine-A: The Covert Government Experiment that’s Killing Our Soldiers and Why GI’s are Only the First Victims, by Gary Matsumoto:

[19] Food and Drug Administration, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Office of Vaccine Research and Review. Regulatory Considerations Regarding the Use of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Vaccines. July 23, 2009.

Swine Flu Vaccine Should Not Be Given to Children in Schools:

[20] CDC To Urge Swine Flu Vaccine For Pregnant Women:

[21] WHO recommendations on pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccines:
Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 briefing note 2:

[22] Sarasota/Regional Public Health Response:

[23] August 7, 2009, e-mail from Dianne Shipley, MPH. Health Educator/Media Liaison; Sarasota County Health and Human Services.

[24] Will NorthCom take over in Swine Flu Outbreak?

Q&A On the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act:

[25] Draft Model Act: The Self-Shielding Protection Act:

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