Today at work I received yet another reminder that free flu shots are available. I won’t be getting one. For several reasons. First of all, let me just state up-front that I’m pathologically terrified of needles and only submit to them if there are serious health reasons. Some of you may decide that this irrational fear is the basis of all my other rationalizations. Perhaps you’re right. I still won’t be getting one.
For another thing, I’ve not had a flu for… well… decades. I have an unusual resistance to flu, and have been able to fight off every single one of them at the first sign of symptoms, using a method I described in Self-Healing from Colds and Flu. So, being reasonably good health, I consider the potential benefits rather slight in my case.
But – and here’s where we get controversial – I have some misgivings about a lot of vaccinations and flu shots in particular. I understand the basic science behind them. I’m willing to bet that they have contributed significantly to the eradication of some diseases. But I’m also aware that there is a lot of money in vaccinations, and that large amounts of money have the potential to corrupt both politics and also science.
That politicians can be corrupted is hardly news. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest political contributors, funding both sides of the most recent election at a level of about $30 million. More upsetting is the realization that science and scientists – who have the image at least of being more sticklers for the truth – can also be bought. Just as a quick example, the chapters in Campbell’s book The China Study on the manipulation of science by the food industry were very disturbing.
With that in mind, I look at the controversy over thimerosal, the mercury-based vaccine preservative manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company and used in nearly all flu vaccines. Thimerosal clearly has damaging effects on cell cultures in the lab, and there have been correlations between increases of autism in children and the increased exposure of children to thimerosal in vaccines. But studies commissioned by high-level agencies as the CDC found the evidence of harm “inconclusive”. This in spite of the substance being banned in a number of countries, and even here in my home state of California for children under three and pregnant women.
I’m not sure why California thinks mercury is ok for me but not for children. Perhaps I’m too far gone. But getting back to the general point, do I trust the CDC and federal agencies? Quite frankly – no. Perhaps thimerosal is perfectly safe. But if it isn’t, I really don’t trust a government that accepts $30 million from the pharmaceutical industries to be conservative about telling me. This is the same government who’s Food and Drug Administration resisted for years allowing stevia to be sold as a sweetener, for pete’s sake.
And thimerosal isn’t the only problem that vaccine critics have with vaccines. For one thing, even doing a controlled study on vaccine effectiveness is difficult and controversial. After all, you have to give a control group a placebo vaccine that won’t work and then expose them to the disease. There ARE known side-effects and vaccine-related deaths. You do have to sign a disclaimer when getting vaccinations for yourself and your children after all.
So I can see both sides of this argument. I believe the scientific principle of vaccination is fundamentally correct – but I also believe science can be corrupted. I get particularly worried when talk starts to emerge of forcing people to receive controversial vaccines. One doctor who’s site I read on this topic contented that refusing any vaccine was unethical, and perhaps should be illegal.
What are your thoughts? Are people who refuse vaccines criminals, nuts, or are they on to something?