Nov. 9th, 2009

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What makes me thoughtful in the whole swine flu debate are the people who claim that it's bad to take a vaccine because it's not natural..because H1N1 and other pandemics are supposed to cull the population, take away the weakest and sickliest examples and build up immune defense in the rest. It is admittedly seldom expressed in such a brutal blunt way (it is often used with historical examples of pandemics, far far away in time and sometimes about brown people on the other side of the world from Sweden), but a fairly simple logical analysis would still lead to such conclusions from the "naturalist" argument, when taken out of a private context and into a pamphlet waving public mission.

Have they really examined this school of thought properly? To me it is a very callous view on humanity and also an oddly self centric view on vaccine.

Don't get me wrong, it is perfectly okay to not take any vaccine, particularly if you feel confident in your own health and if you're reasonably sure you're not going to be close to a high risk person.

..but the "culling" opinion (which I've genuinely heard expressed more than once is almost nazi-like in its clinical brutality. Today, so many people get to live that would have been part of infant or child mortality rates 100 years ago, perhaps even you or I would be among these! People who seem healthy today, would perhaps not have been up to par with conditions in historical times. My own husband, with his asthma, would probably not have survived childhood 150 years ago, and many many other wonderful people, people who have contributed to making the world a better place, both on modest as well as larger scales. Is it not right to try fighting a disease for the sake of these risk groups, instead of letting "nature run its course"?
And isn't it hypocritical to talk about "nature's course" in today's modern age, where we frequently, every day, every moment use cheats, enhancements and aids to make life easier, funner and more humane? Because the people claiming such opinions are always from a privileged part of the world. You won't hear someone who really is subject to all the whims of nature in their daily struggle, to display such amazing lack of wider empathy. My thoughts go to the aids problem in Africa..isn't it easier to "let nature run its cause"? What about the handicapped or mentally ill? is it right to invest resources so that they can function as fully as possible in society, with tools, meds and therapy? Is that too against nature? It's certainly cheaper to let them be, isn't it?

Or is it simply that some people think that it is only the things they have selected as such, that are "unnatural", while they happily keep using other man-made inventions to heighten the value of their daily lives.

In the end, I think it is everyone's personal choice which is most important, and these thoughts aren't meant to dispute any such personal view on if or if not to take any vaccine, it is meant to perhaps put a little pressure on those public or semi public opinions which are rooting for selective "naturalism" like a sleazy Washington lobbyist in a cheap suit.
(the analogy is meant to inspire notions of badly researched populism and a type of empathy which you can treat as any party clothes hanging in your wardrobe, just take it off whenever it suits you!)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not taking the vaccine, I have heard very respectable personal arguments against it, it's of course not wrong to take the vaccine either, the best opinion for why to do that was expressed by a friend of mine just recently: do it out of solidarity. If you care about high risk people in your life, if you expose yourself to large crowds where such people are, then it's certainly a showing of solidarity to minimize the risk of spreading the bug around them. The point is merely that I'm willing to bet that for many people in a country such as Sweden it is often not a sign of fear, nor a sign of egoism if they take the vaccine, it is a sign of thoughtfulness.

(This text is inspired mostly from the situation in Sweden, where the government has bought vaccine for all 8 million people, which these people can choose or not choose to take, and which is virtually free of charge if you take it. In the US, vaccine is still very scarce, and it is unclear which groups will be able to get it and at what cost. Also, as a side note: what's written isn't primarily inspired by a popular or notorious Swedish female doctor, I'd rather not discuss her or her opinions here, I merely want to impress that if someone has a certain stance in public, there is a responsibility which comes with that stance, both ethical and professional. A doctor who proclaims that they won't take a vaccine when there is a pandemic going on, would not get terminated because of his/her opinion, they simply aren't fit to work with the sick and the weak among the general public because they could with such great ease be carriers, and thus affect and even kill those in the herd who would have been "culled" had we lived in the dark ages.)


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