Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Red Cross and Flu Vaccines

Remember the Red Cross? Up until several years ago, the Canadian Red Cross held a monopoly on blood collection in Canada. A Canadian could not give blood except through one of the many mobile, state licensed, Red Cross blood donation centres. Tens of thousands of Canadians caught Hepatitis C and AIDS from contaminated blood collected by the Red Cross. As a result, the Red Cross no longer exists. Killing thousands of Canadians apparently killed the Red Cross. I don’t know which to grieve for.

Sorry. That was sarcasm. I grieve not for the Red Cross.

Pardon me for changing the subject but, today, we are deluged with state funded propaganda urging us to get a flu shot. Private corporations are commissioned by the government to manufacture and provide flu vaccines. Eleven million flu shots are given in Canada annually. The government has a monopoly on the commission, distribution and delivery of this vaccine.

Now I'm not paranoid - at least not clinically diagnosed as such - despite the satorical mast-head at the top of my site. Yet I am compelled to ask: If we trusted our government to deliver uncontaminated blood through the Red Cross, and was betrayed in this trust, why do we trust our government to deliver clean, uncompromised flu vaccines?

SARS, the west nile virus, mad cow disease and the bird flu were unheard of a few years ago. Today they are front page news. New dioxins, viruses and contaminatory agents pop up at an alarming rate. And when our media covers these occurrences, Canadians shrug and pretty well ignore it.

I wonder - what if the next big health threat were to be created as the result of some unforeseen combination of elements in our flu vaccine? Lets face it, flu vaccines consist of a plethora of viruses and toxins that none of us would allow injected into our bodies otherwise. And many viruses and deadly diseases lie dormant in their carriers for decades until finally exacting their terrible cost.

Viruses mutate and the manner in which various chemicals, viruses and toxins interact is not fully understood. What if the cocktail of agents in the flu vaccine were to mutate or interact amongst themselves or in conjunction with the physiology of certain people in an unforeseen manner that resulted in the creation of a new deadly virus or toxin? Or what if the unspeakable happened and the vaccine itself was somehow contaminated?

Now, let me lay my biases bare. I don’t trust government. In fact I believe that anyone who does trust government is a fool. Government is not a person. It is not a singular entity that you can converse with, get a feeling for its integrity and gage the level of its trustworthiness. Government is a detached, cold, impersonal entity that doesn’t even know your name.

Dying hepatitis C victims begged for assistance from Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government. And the government members stood, one by one, under penalty of expulsion from the Liberal party, and voted to deny them the compensation they deserved. The government held a monopoly on blood collection. And when thousands of Canadians acquired terminal illnesses from the government sanctioned blood collection agency, the government abandoned them. As it would abandon you.

So let me be clear – it is not the fact that government is often incompetent and ignorant in the administration of its programs that drives me to distrust it. Rather, I distrust it because when their incompetence and ignorance kills thousands, and they are challenged, they abandon the dying in order to preserve their own political power.

And if the day should ever come - and I pray it doesn't - when the flu vaccine is found to have caused the deaths of countless Canadians, you can count on one thing – the government will take no responsibility. The dying and the relatives of the dead will be faced with a wall of government lawyers and will have to fight in our courts for decades to get any recompense. And no government official will ever be held responsible. This is what happened to the Red Cross hep-C victims and this is what will happen to the victims of any future health catastrophe.

It is the way of Canadian politics. It is the system we love and, as such, the system we deserve.


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