Does the H1N1 vaccine give you the flu? Will it cause autism or Gulf War syndrome? Is it a cover for a sinister government plan to kill people? Is a plot by big pharma to sell drugs, make money and rule the world?
The conspiracy theories around medicine and science range from ridiculous to downright scary. And as the second wave of the H1N1 pandemic influenza virus entrenches itself in Canada and vaccination clinics swing their doors open next week, public health officials are rushing to debunk the myths about a virus that has sickened hundreds of thousands and a drug that will protect others from getting unnecessarily ill.
Canada's chief public health officer, David Butler-Jones, came out swinging Friday against the claims of those opposed to the vaccine. The federal regulator approved the drug this week, saying it is safe and effective. Canadians have a choice: Immunize themselves or face a real risk of disease, Dr. Butler-Jones said.
“We risk losing ground if we start doubting … or taking the myths as fact,” he said. “Immunization is the only thing which will stop the pandemic and prevent however many people from needlessly becoming ill.”
Canada, which has ordered 50 million doses of the swine-flu vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline, embarks on its largest ever immunization campaign next week. But on websites and in online comments, some have raised questions about the vaccine. The hope among public health officials is that common sense will prevail.
They stressed that the vaccine doesn't contain a live virus so you cannot contract influenza from it.