Saturday, October 24, 2009

The President Who Cried Wolf...

Disclaimer: My thoughts on this matter do not represent an official medical opinion, and should not be considered as medical advice.

President Obama has declared the outbreak of H1N1 influenza pandemic a "national emergency". This is a very serious claim. For those of us in health care, a mention of an influenza pandemic conjures up memories from countless stories in our training about the 1917-1918 outbreaks that infected an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. and likely killed 850,000.

The current H1N1 influenza outbreak, just to put things in perspective, has killed 100 Americans. There are, to be certain, 100 heartbreaking personal stories to accompany these tragic and untimely ends. We would do well never to forget this. There are real people with real families in real pain behind these nameless, faceless numbers.

But we have a responsibility to weigh this matter with tremendous care. We are being strongly "encouraged" at present to be vaccinated against this strain of influenza, and this latest "emergency" declaration suggests that vaccination may soon be mandatory. The vaccine has been rushed through production - there is no debate about that. There are reports that the vaccine itself may be dangerous. Are we better off taking our chances?

In this time of confusion and fear, we see in sharp focus why it is a problem when people in leadership positions lie. The President and his staff have rendered themselves unworthy of trust. From Rahm Emmanuel's oft-quoted mantra of "never let a crisis go to waste" to the constant din of misrepresentations and obfuscations concerning their health care take-over plans, Administration officials have built a bulwark of lies in their short time in office. Their HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sibelius, made her most powerful contribution to this effort by castigating a reporter who coughed incorrectly, without using his sleeve. The President himself calls physicians greed-obsessed tonsil vultures and serial amputators.

In this climate, when every statement from those in charge is suspect, this latest declaration lacks any convincing quality. Combined with the relatively low mortality numbers and the dubious quality and efficacy of the vaccine, I am left with no choice but to choose to take my chances. This is tragic. After all the advances made in the field of immunology, the work started by Richard Jenner and smallpox now finds its hard-won trustworthiness undone - not by failure, but by the careless abuse of power by a self-obsessed and single-minded fascist.

Once again, the danger of health care dominated by an all-powerful State is clear. There is no longer any objective science. All the researchers are controlled by them. The CDC belongs to them. The media belong to them. Resistance is futile. Maybe the conspiracy theorists are right and the vaccine is some sort of mind-control ploy. Or perhaps they are simply flexing their political muscle. Maybe they are simply using an engineered crisis to overwhelm the system to bring about their further take-over of all facets of American life. More likely they are simply using the crisis to line their pockets in some way.

Or maybe this really is a big deal, and the blood of millions will be on their hands. No shots will have been fired to achieve this genocide. All it will have taken will have been a few lies.