I am somehow now involved in an online pissing match with someone I don't even know on Facebook. It started off that a mutual acquaintance mentioned he was unsure about the swine flu vaccine. By the time I saw the post, a person had posted that the swine flu is made up and the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease. I tried to nicely state that, scientifically, that isn't the case, and she went nuts. I'm so tempted to ramp things up--there's been so much misinformation about the vaccines that I almost lose it every time I hear people spread lies. But, I've decided to just stop checking Facebook for a while. I'm trying to be the calmer, if not better, person.
Just last week, I was driving home, and this stupid shock jock radio host (who I only listen to in order to get traffic reports on the tens) had on an osteopathic practitioner (disclaimer: I have no inherent problems with osteopaths) who claimed that cancer was a vitamin imbalance, modern medicine does nothing for disease, and the flu and H1N1 vaccines were completely unnecessary and even dangerous because of the link between vaccinations and autism/other diseases (which she didn't elaborate on).
First, that autism link is anecdotal, and clinical trials have not shown a correlation. Second, she used bad statistics to say that more people will be hit by lightning than die from swine flu. While, at the time, about 300 people had been confirmed to be killed by H1N1 in the US (that number has risen), if this becomes an epidemic, that number isn't static. As another caller pointed out, that's like saying that since AIDS deaths in the early 80s only killed a few hundred people, it wasn't a public health concern.
I'm still thinking that this H1N1 won't be a massive killing machine, or at least not much worse than seasonal flu (I believe the statistic is that 36,000 die from seasonal flu every year--I'll try to confirm that), I think it is completely irresponsible to fear monger about the ingredients in the vaccine. Give people the proper information and let them decide for themselves! I'm on the list for both the seasonal and the H1N1 shots here. I can't make anyone do anything, but telling them that they'll suffer harm from the inert ingredients is unconscionable. Misinformation makes me crazy, and yet it is such a huge part of what I see every day. I'm lucky enough to work with well educated, scientific minds (for the most part). People are generally rational. Not the case in most of the rest of my world.
I feel that whole cliche, "with great power comes great responsibility." I'm lucky enough to have received (and I continue to receive) a medical education--I feel as though it's part of my job to stop the flow of bad information. I just can't take it too personally when I'm not successful every time.