dystonia is a tragedy. but so is preventable death due to fear and misinformation.

Have you seen the tragic video of Desiree Jennings, the beautiful 25 year old cheerleader who was struck with dystonia ten days after receiving a seasonal (not H1N1) flu shot? The correlation between the timing of the flu shot and the onset of the disorder is reported in this story as “doctors” saying the flu shot is what caused the dystonia. Apparently, Jennings’ own doctor is not among them: from the LA Examiner article: “Jennings doctor has stated she has come down with the disorder but there does not seem to be a solid connection that it was positively caused by her getting a flu vaccination.”

Irresponsible, sensationalist “journalism” is offensive in and of itself, but in this case, it could very well be murderous. How many people will see this video, and decide against immunizing themselves and their children? Why did Inside Edition choose not to discuss the known causes and contributory factors for dystonia (hint: flu shots/vaccinations not on the list)? They did show us pictures of Mrs. Jennings in her cheerleading costume, in between shots of her demonstrating her bizarre and devastating neurological symptoms. Did they provide any facts at all? Lots of vaguely terrifying allegations that the flu shot did this to her, yes, but did they present any scientific facts? Well, they did mention that this form of the disorder strikes 1/1,000,000 people. (By comparison, the chance of being struck by lightning in any given year is 1/700,000 — no word on how many lightning strike victims had had flu shots, but hey Inside Edition, why not do a story on the possibility vaccinations cause increased electrical conductivity? Hmm?)

A commenter on the LA Examiner story said their grandma had this disorder, and had passed away as a result, and — shockingly enough — it turns out she had had a flu shot that year! What are the chances, a senior citizen getting a seasonal flu shot? And just think about it! Senior citizens probably get more flu shots than any other demographic, and they die of random causes ALL THE TIME. Coincidence? You tell me. Wait — don’t. Instead, please repeat after me: CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION.

There is nothing whatsoever to connect the flu shot to the onset of the disorder except a week and a half. Could the fever have triggered neurological problems? Maybe!!! HOLY SHIT, nothing else ever causes fever at all, so clearly no one should get a flu shot!

The CDC reported today that forty-six states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time. This many reports of widespread activity are unprecedented during seasonal flu.

Vaccine hysteria has terrible consequences. Before you start throwing pseudo-science at me about it, please, please go read this article. Then check out Michael Shermer’s open letter to Bill Maher, an otherwise sensible fellow who seems to have caught this crazy anti-vaxxor bug. You might also check out Science-Based Medicine. Then go get your flu shot.

6 thoughts on “dystonia is a tragedy. but so is preventable death due to fear and misinformation.

  1. I can’t get a flu shot because I’m so reactive to so many medications but I’m mostly homebound. My main concern is my son, who lives with me and works at a supermarket surrounded by college dorms. Guess where they get their beer. He’s got an appt. for his flu shot Nov. 3, not soon enough for me.

    But I’m freaking out about the way the video pops out on the page! How did you do that!?
    .-= lavonne´s last blog ..Cue Etta James music… =-.

  2. it’s called Apture, there’s a logo & link in the drop down header, and it is the easiest thing in the universe to use. i love that plugin so much.

    anyway, i would encourage your housemates to get immunized quickly – it’s almost as good as you being able to be immunized yourself. it’s not necessarily individual vaccinations that do the trick – you’re actually better off to be un-vaccinated in a group where everyone else is, than to be the only vaccinated one in a group. vaccines are not always effective on each individual, it’s the ‘herd immunity’ that gives us the best protection.

    i’ve been doing a lot of reading up on this. there is SO much hysteria over vaccines, and so many parents have opted out. as a result, we’ve seen major outbreaks of diseases – measles, mumps, rubella, diptheria, pertussis, etc — all because of some bad science perpetrated by some very sad, very desperate parents trying to prevent others from suffering autism.

    true, the rise in autism rates happened around the same time vaccines came into wide use. however you could take that same timeline and identify countless other environmental factors (television, for instance, or the surge in automobile ownership – pick anything that surged during and after the post-war baby boom era). then consider the increasing frequency of correct diagnosis. when people learned thimerosal had mercury in it, it was an easy answer — aha! mercury! poison! nevermind that the infinitesimally small amounts have never been proven to do any harm (to healthy individuals without known sensitivities, that is). but mercury makes a great scary bogeyman.

    oh, i could go on. i sympathize with all the suffering parents who want answers, and with Mrs. Jennings — but bad science is bad science, it’s a lot like bad justice. A lot of harm is done when the wrong thing gets blamed, and the real culprit is free to go on hurting more people.

    bottom line – if you can get everyone around you immunized, you will be at substantially less risk.

  3. Hi Lizard,

    I’m new in these parts but saw this post on immunization that makes both good and bad points. It was so gratifying to see someone stating how important it is to immunize the correct portion of the population instead of everyone. That isn’t being said in many places because it will bring down the profit margins for vaccine companies – but how many billions does anyone need to stay in business anyway if they just reduce some bonuses by, say, ten million here or their?

    This article is newly out and demonstrates how the in-depth review of statistics about incidence of sickness and medical interventions can clarify these questions:


    The numbers being ignored by the AMA would really target those most likely to be hurt by the flu and to spread it around. Then there is the delivery mechanism itself for vaccination which is spreading it – the live virus form of vaccine inhaled by the consumer. That permits the shedding of that virus for days and is being banned for use in many hospitals to spare exposures to immuno-compromised patients.


    Hopefully doctors aren’t’ giving older kids this form to spread around to grandparents and baby sibs at home. Parents need to know these things. A Canadian study, which lacked any conflicts of interest common in US studies, also offered strong data showing that taking the regular flu shot made people twice as likely to catch Swine flu. So, they aren’t giving out the regular flu shots until their population has already received Swine flu vaccine.

    I found this news item very critical over at CBS news:


    This one is core to the problem of being penny-wise and pound-foolish in medicine. They aren’t testing people with flu to see what form it is any longer (or if it is even the flu at all). So, we’ll see a lot of decisions being made with wrong information. Did I have the flu and am not immune to it? Should I even bother with the shot because I’ve already been exposed when Mom and Pal Joey had it?

    I do have to take issue with trotting out the autism data, however. It is just the tip of the iceberg regarding vaccine concerns. There is no such thing as nontoxic mercury and it can’t be measured as to harmful ‘dosage’ because it isn’t stored in nice equal amounts around a body. It can concentrate in brain tissue and a new study shows learning problems (not autism) results when baby monkeys are given the same dosage of mercury that kids get in a vaccine. In an effort to make the most vaccine in the least amount of time, swine flu shots have unregulated doses of mercury in them right now as a preservative in those mass dose vials. It is a very unfortunate situation that single dose vials without mercury aren’t being offered to pregnant women and young children, most encouraged to take the vaccine.

    One in six children now has a developmental disability and this statistic exists among the immunized population. The concern began with anecdotal evidence (how all questions are generated) linking immunization with onset data in autism. Taking it further to the neurotoxic properties of mercury would enlarge the field of concern and shouldn’t be confined to the very specific issues in autism. Autism is also strongly correlated with dysfunction in methylation systems (sulfur processing) in common with MANY different diseases and recognized by the NIH. What kicks that off? Genetic contributions may explain why one disorder rather than another, but it won’t explain why ANY disorder ought to occur in such large numbers. And autism occurs before 30 months of age but is rarely noticed at birth. I specialized in working with autistic kids back when it was rare and up through the point at which it was so commonplace. Thank goodness those parents raised the flag for so many – what we learn about autism will also help in myriad other brain dysfunctions.

    True, journalism is bad now. So we have to consume that wisely just as we do the products being sold by health care which is an industry (16 % of the GNP) than it is a science.


  4. Barb, thank you for your thoughtful and informative response. I was pretty pissed off when I scribbled this down, so I was definitely trending toward the strident and extreme.

    This is honestly the first time in my life I’ve ever felt the need to get a flu shot (H1N1, not seasonal) — I’ve never had a seasonal flu shot, even though I’m in a risk category (chronic asthma). The recent outbreaks of all the diseases I was immunized against as a child are somewhat alarming, since there’s a good chance that even if my vaccinations were effective at the time, that they are no longer protecting me — and the best protection, the herd immunity, is no longer a given. The reason I will be getting H1N1 immunization is that it seems at this point my best chance of getting through this mess without dying – at 48, with chronic asthma and with a BMI hovering between “overweight” and “obese”, I am afraid.

    Modern immunology is not a perfect science, but few of the people currently fighting against vaccinations are old enough to remember the days when deadly virus outbreaks were common. I’m not even old enough to remember that, and I’m no spring chicken.

    I think at this point what needs to be done, is to throw out this compromise-based insurance reform and go straight single-payer. Screw the insurance industry, screw Big Pharma, we need to remove profit from the equation and work towards a solution that keeps the terrible epidemics of the past from recurring, without forgetting that first, we need to do no harm.

  5. Don’t blame you a bit. I was disabled at the age of 45 by pesticides so a case of the flu could kill me easily enough, given all the other organ and biochemical damage I’ve suffered. However, since I’m already neurologically damaged, it doesn’t make sense to be injected with mercury.

    Decisions don’t have to be made based upon what the corporations want done and the CDC is a sell out with regard to vaccine numbers and schedules. International pressures exist to fill them full of toxic adjuvants because you can use less antigen that way. That allows you to sell lots more doses for export purposes on top of what the US pays for the ones we offer here at home. However, Americans want ours without the additives with good reason. Look at this list provided by our government:


    There is an epidemic of autoimmune disorders among women in America today. Kicking the immune system into hyper-drive in an undirected fashion with adjuvents just raises red flags all over the place, although flu serum doesn’t have them at this point in time.

    There isn’t much profit in doing it right and few manufacturers to boot. The best way to have parents make good decisions is to place the right info in their hands and insurance that lets doctors spend time with them for making such decisions. Just as elderly or very sick patients ought to have an insured session with their doc for ‘end of life’ planning (yeah, death panels, oy!), parents need at least one insured session in planning for vaccinations. Another is useful for diet info, safe nursery construction and the many issues which are contributing to the destruction of our kids’ physical and mental development.

    Kids don’t get polio but they can’t read so well either. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other.

    .-= Barb´s last blog ..Remiss about Violence =-.

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