The numbers on the growing swine flu epidemic are changing so fast, every news story seems to have a different count of victims. We know for sure that here in the U.S. we had our first swine flu death this week, a toddler in Texas on Monday.
According to a Time.com story, "How Fast Could a Flu Vaccine be Produced?" the CDC has begun cultivating the seed stock of virus needed for a swine flu vaccine should this turn out to be an all out pandemic. (The current seasonal flu vaccine would not be effective against the swine flu.) But the story also warns that the last time the U.S. recommended nationwide vaccination against a suspected swine flu was in 1976--and it was a fiasco.
Time's report is startling: "Under orders from President Gerald Ford, a vaccine was rushed into production and administered to 45 million Americans, at a cost of $135 million. But within weeks, people started developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing immune-system disorder that can result from the vaccine. Some experts estimated the risk of Guillain-Barré as being seven times higher in those who were immunized vs. those who were not. After the immunization program was terminated nine months after it began, government officials paid $90 million in damages to patients who were injured by the vaccine. The widely feared swine flu epidemic never emerged."
This breakout has to end soon or as parents we may be faced with a serious question:
If the swine flu threat grows into pandemic levels, would you be willing to vaccinate your child with a CDC issued vaccine?