Anti-Vaccine Crowd Gearing Up for Flu Season

With a vaccine for the novel H1N1 flu (also called swine flu) expected to be available in October, it comes as no surprise that the anti-vaccine forces are gearing up.

Photo by Flickr user djuggler used under Creative Commons license

Photo by Flickr user djuggler used under Creative Commons license

A friend and neighbor of mine called my attention to this article on, a popular alternative medicine site. Here’s what my friend wrote:

” I am not anti-vax, but I came across this article about squalene in the new swine flu virus potentially being the cause of Gulf War Syndrome…. pretty disturbing.”

The article charges that squalene is likely to cause an autoimmune reaction. Now squalene is found naturally throughout the nervous system, and is also one of the beneficial antioxidants in olive oil. But the folks suggest that when injected, good squalene becomes bad squalene. The article repeats claims that squalene was added to the anthrax vaccine given to soldiers in the Gulf War, and that this vaccine component may be responsible for Gulf War syndrome.

The facts don’t support these charges. Take a look, for example at a lay-language FAQ by the World Health Organization. WHO points out, among other things, that 22 million doses of flu vaccine containing squalene have been administered since 1997 with no severe adverse effects. Clinical studies on squalene-containing vaccines have been done in infants without evidence of safety concerns. And it’s now known that squalene was not added to the vaccines administered to Gulf War troops.

Don’t you just hate it when pesky facts get in the way of beautiful theories?

—Bob Finn
posted 1:12 pm PDT 7/28/2008
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Filed under Allergy and Immunology, Family Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Primary care

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