Bill Maher on Vaccination: A Conversation Worth Having

FluVaccineBill Maher writes on his blog:

While America is still in the grips of swine flu mania, let me use this opportunity to clear up a few things about my beliefs concerning the flu shot, vaccines, and health in general. I do this because there is obviously a lot of curiosity about this subject of vaccines — it comes up in every interview I do these days, and I’ve been finding that people, including doctors, are privately expressing a skepticism that is still not very prevalent in public. I feel like I’ve become a confessor for people who want someone to be raising questions about vaccines.

But I don’t want the job. I agree with my critics who say there are far more qualified people than me — its just that mainstream media rarely interviews doctors and scientists who present an alternative point of view. There is a movement to stop people from asking any questions about vaccines — they’re a miracle, that’s it, debate over. I don’t think its that simple, and neither do millions of other people. The British Medical Journal from August 25 says half the doctors and medical workers in the U.K. are not taking the flu shot — are they all crazy too? Sixty-five percent of French people don’t want it. Maybe its not as simple as the medical establishment wants to paint it.

Vaccination is a nuanced subject, and I’ve never said all vaccines in all situations are bad. The point I am representing is: Is getting frequent vaccinations for any and all viruses consequence-free? I feel its unnecessary and counterproductive to try and silence people with condescension. Michael Shermer wrote me an open letter and felt I needed to be told that “vaccinations work by tricking the body’s immune system into thinking that it has already had the disease for which the vaccination was given.” Thanks, Doc, I thought there might be a little man inside the needle. Yes, I read Microbe Hunters when I was eight, I have a basic idea how vaccines work.

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  • Dimz

    Some people in the US have taken the vaccine and experienced heavy neurological side effects (paralysis, loss of speech). Yet mainstream media does not choose to air these stories. One might even ask if this campaign for the cure is a purely economical one. Only select pharmaceutical companies are allowed to produce the vaccine, won't that become concentrated profit?

  • Word Eater

    My elderly mother-in-law's doctor advised her against getting the swine flu vaccine simply because it hasn't been tested enough to know all the possible side-effects.

    Even that decidedly common sense view is under-reported.

    The “consensus” we are told is: if you are considered at risk, get the damn shot.

  • Jimbo

    Word Eater, if your mother-in-law is over 65 she isn't a high-risk group as it is. Secondly, the H1N1 vaccine is produced in the exact same way as the seasonal vaccine. The only reason H1N1 didn't get into the season vaccine is because it came up too late in the year. For her physician to tell her that there isn't enough testing is just plain wrong.

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