"Hey, let's all get the swine flu! That'd show Obama!"
In recent days, both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have suggested that the H1N1 flu vaccine may be unsafe and questioned the Obama administration's recommendation that Americans get vaccinated, with Limbaugh asserting that "[y]ou'll be healthier" if you don't believe what the government says and Beck suggesting that the vaccine may be "deadly." However, health experts have repeatedly stated that the vaccine is a safe and necessary tool to combat the virus, and that, in CDC chief Thomas Frieden's words, "This flu vaccine is made as flu vaccine is made each year, by the same companies, in the same production facilities, with the same procedures, with the same safety safeguards" and "[t]hat enables us to have a high degree of confidence in the safety of the vaccine."
Limbaugh stated on his nationally syndicated radio program, "I'm not seeing these mass deaths from the swine flu. ... All I see is a bunch of typical government panic and hype." He added, "Who put the notion that you gotta have this shot, or this nasal spray -- whatever the hell the vaccine is -- whoever the hell put in your head the notion that you gotta do it? Government did. The Obama government, to be specific. It is one of my fervent objectives and goals ... to convince as many people as possible that the damn government is not God, and nobody in it even comes close to being as competent as you are to run your life. And yet, 'Oh my God, the government report says ...' The next time you hear 'The government says...' don't believe it. You'll be healthier, trust me." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/7/09]
Limbaugh stated in response to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' call for widespread use of the vaccination, "Screw you, Ms. Sebelius! I am not going to take it, precisely because you're now telling me I must. It's not your role, it's not your responsibility, and you do not have that power. I don't want to take your vaccine. I don't get flu shots." Limbaugh later added, "I'm just like -- I'm a contrarian, I'm a non-conformist -- you have some idiot government official demanding, telling me I must take this vaccine. I'll never take it." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/7/09]
After Beck's radio producer, known on-air as Stu, said of the H1N1 vaccine, "if we drew the line at, hey we've never done this to a human body before, we wouldn't have a lot of our current cures," Beck responded, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. But we've never said, 'Hey, we're going to try something out, and you have to do it. Everybody.' " Beck later said: "So now here's the question. Just based on what you know, would you line up now? Because the government -- let's say the government came in and said, 'OK, everybody, you've gotta line up and everybody has to have their shot. Otherwise, you ain't going anywhere.' " [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/30/09]
I dunno what to say about this, but given that the swine flu vaccine is made the same damn way as other flu vaccines, and those have a superb safety record, these guys are just morons. Worse, they're morons who may be drumming up viewers, listeners and dollars at the cost of the public health.
But, hey, what else would you expect? It's Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, after all.
As a side note, this is not to say that people shouldn't ask questions about medical treatments, they should. My argument is more that the way these guys approach makes it clear they have little interest in actually addressing the issues, and more in drumming up controversy and thereby ratings.