Back in 1976, Mark Waldvogel was a healthy, athletic high school senior in Kailua, Hawaii. He followed the advice of then-President Ford and Federal health officials and took a swine flu vaccination that had just been developed that year.
There had been so many Government warnings of a deadly epidemic, he felt it was his patriotic duty. He thought he was doing the right thing.
But just two weeks after receiving the shot, Mr. Waldvogel found himself paralyzed from the chest down. He developed Guillain‐Barre Syndrome (sometimes called French polio), which is a rare neurological disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.
Weakness and tingling are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body, leaving the person unable to breathe independently.
His doctors concluded it was caused by the vaccine.
Two years later, in an interview with The NY Times, Mr. Waldvogel, now 20 years old, was paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair for life, still awaiting for his claim to be compensated from the Government for the injuries he sustained.
But while it may be considered rare, Mr. Waldvogel was not alone. He was just one of approximately 500 claims for Guillain barre syndrome from that one vaccine.
There were 4,000 people who sought damages from the government for medical problems triggered by the shot.
The first cases of influenza that started it all, was back in February 1976.
It all started when a hand-full of recruits at a military base at Fort Dix, New Jersey fell ill with what appeared to be an influenza-like illness.
At first they thought it was adenovirus, which caused an outbreak the previous month. But when one of the men, 19-year-old Private David Lewis collapsed and died–after he was forced to leave his sick bed to make a five-mile night march (This is an important piece of the story that most retellings of the event leave out. He collapsed and died AFTER the 5 mile night march. It’s all in the details, right?) the New Jersey lab sent isolates to the CDC’s Bureau of Laboratories.
It was at the CDC that isolates were confirmed to be swine-type influenza A viruses. They feared this was the same virus or a relative that caused the global 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed 50 million people worldwide, and a half of million in the United States.
It would take decades before gene sequencing of the virus that caused the 1918 pandemic would be confirmed it was of avian origin, and even more recently it’s speculated that the virus had a horse or some other mammal as a intermediary host. It’s also worth noting that more recent autopsies on victims of the Spanish flu found that they died of secondary bacterial infections, rather than the virus itself, and in this pre-antibiotic era, and many taking unsafe amounts of aspirin, etc. this was a recipe for disaster. But that’s another episode.)
Back in 1976, they made the grave mistake of deadly predictions that would never materialize. And in this case, as many cases, the cure was worse than the disease.
So while the World Health Organization urged the government to take a wait and see approach, to allow things to unfold a little before reacting, the US government with their blinders on, urgently set out to make a new vaccine for this potentially deadly virus. The media echoed the government’s premonitions of a deadly epidemic to a listening American audience.
By mid-March, 200 million doses of vaccines were ordered by federal health officials. But under one condition, drug company spokespeople were urging the government to grant them complete protection from all liability, including any and all injuries associated with the shot. They wanted the government to assume liability.
They wanted complete indemnity, and they got it. Drug companies also got immunity from liability in 1986 against every vaccine given to children today. If your child dies or is injured by a vaccine, you cannot sue the vaccine manufacturer, but that is another story.
Bracing for the storm, public health officials predicted deadly outbreaks in the coming winter. Health “experts” estimated that the deadly virus could infect 50 to 60 million Americans. The CDC believed at least 80% of the United States population would need to be vaccinated. Hospitals suspended non-essential medical procedures.
President Gerald Ford embarked on a zealous campaign to vaccinate “every man, woman, and child in the United States.”
The first swine flu vaccines became available October 1. Photos of celebrities and political figures receiving the flu shot appeared in the media.
But then storm clouds had started to form. On October 11, three elderly people died shortly after they received the swine flu inoculation at the same exact Pittsburgh clinic.
Two of the families allowed an autopsy and it was found that they died of heart attacks. CDC epidemiologists investigated and “found no evidence to suggest the deaths were caused by the vaccine.”
Pittsburgh health officials told reporters there was no cause for concern.
But the body count began to rise. The next day, a newspaper reported that 14 people in 9 states had died within 48 hours of receiving the flu shot, and again, there was no evidence linking any of the deaths to the vaccine. (Except a lot of people dying after a flu vaccine IS literally evidence.)
On October 13, completed tests on the batch of vaccine used in the Pittsburgh clinic found no contamination.
Within a few days, more and more recently vaccinated people were dying. The number climbed to 33 on October 14, and by October 22, 41 were found to have died in a short window after vaccination.
By December, another rash of injuries were making its way into the news. Cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome linked to the flu vaccine were cropping up all over the country.
Ninety-four cases of paralysis had been reported in 14 states, the majority of cases in recently vaccinated people. Of those, four people died.
Just 10 weeks into the National Influenza Immunization Program, with nearly 25% of the US population, which was roughly 45 million citizens, vaccinated against swine flu, the vaccine program was finally, and somewhat reluctantly, suspended.
The pandemic never materialized as predicted: only 200 cases of swine flu and one death was reported in the United States. Like salt in a wound, the incidence of swine flu among the vaccinated was seven times greater than it was among those who had not been vaccinated.
Those who were harmed by the vaccine outnumbered those who were harmed by the influenza virus.
Over 40 people were reported to have died suddenly after the vaccine with no good explanation.
Approximately 500 people developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, and of those 30 died from their paralysis. Several thousand were harmed by the vaccine, and little to none would see compensation for their injuries.
They were never able to find a reason for why the Swine Flu Vaccine was killing people, or causing serious life threatening injuries. They couldn’t find a contaminant. They couldn’t pinpoint an ingredient, or a bad lot.
More recently in 2008, some researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia injected mice with some old batches of influenza vaccines, including the 1976 swine flu vaccines, and vaccines from 1991-1992 and 2004-2005, and found that these vaccines induced anti-ganglioside antibodies (which are associated with the development of Guillain Barre Syndrome). This suggests that the Influenza hemagglutinin protein itself induces this autoimmune response.
Let this serve as an ominous reminder that only you have to live in your body. No government, no doctor, no scientist, knows your body, has to live in your body, or, to be quite frank, is going to lose sleep if you’re injured.
Where there is risk, there must always be choice. And let us not forget that every generation is failed by the next generation’s science. We are science experiments.