Monday, September 28, 2009

Flu shots: confusing coincidence and cause & effect

A good reminder:

As soon as swine flu vaccinations start next month, some people getting them will drop dead of heart attacks or strokes, some children will have seizures and some pregnant women will miscarry....

Every year, there are 1.1 million heart attacks in the United States, 795,000 strokes and 876,000 miscarriages, and 200,000 Americans have their first seizure. Inevitably, officials say, some of these will happen within hours or days of a flu shot.

The government “is right to expect coincident deaths, since people are dying every day, with or without flu shots,” said Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine and co-author of “The Epidemic That Never Was,” a history of the 1976 swine flu vaccination campaign.

Officials are particularly worried about spontaneous miscarriages, because they are urging pregnant women to be among the first to be vaccinated. Pregnant women are usually advised to get flu shots, because they and their fetuses are at high risk of flu complications, but this year the pressure is greater....

“There are about 2,400 miscarriages a day in the U.S.,” said Dr. Jay C. Butler, chief of the swine flu vaccine task force at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “You’ll see things that would have happened anyway. But the vaccine doesn’t cause miscarriages. It also doesn’t cause auto accidents, but they happen.”

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