Bill Maher recently twittered that “if u get a flu shot ur an idiot.” And in last Friday’s show, during an interview with former Senator Bill Frist, he also urged pregnant women not to get the swine flu vaccine.
I do not think Bill Maher is an idiot. In fact, I’m a regular view who — until he starts talking about breastfeeding and vaccines — tends to agree with him. But on this, he’s being stupid.
Pregnant women make up about one percent of the population in the United States at any given time, yet studies show that they make up about nine percent of the critically ill cases of swine flu. Their risk is unique during this pandemic.
Maher also claims that he doesn’t believe that healthy people can die from the swine flu. I’d argue that a) the lives of healthy people aren’t the only lives that matter, and b) a recent study found that 45 percent of serious cases had no underlying conditions. Maher blows off this point by saying “Western medicine misses a lot.”
Fortunately, the swine flu is far less dangerous than originally feared. And so far, almost everyone who gets it recovers. When it comes to vaccination, I’m all for people making the decisions they feel are right for themselves and their families. Get the shot, don’t get the shot — your body, your business.
But what I can’t stand is when personalities like Maher use their station and celebrity status to spout pseudoscience that could have a major impact on public health.
Take this clip from Fox News. (And yes, I realize that the swine flu probably won’t kill Bill Maher, but being compared to Fox News just might.)
Dr. Kent Holtrof claims the virus has “lost virulence” (the virus has never changed) and that he won’t give his kids the vaccine because it’s loaded with “adjuncts.” The word is ADJUVANTS, and the U.S. vaccine does not contain them. (Trials are ongoing, in case the virus suddenly mutates.) This guy cares more about recruiting people to his side of the vaccination fence then he does about vocabulary or, oh, FACTS.
So in the words of Dr. Frist, Bill, I think that you’re very, very wrong.
Now tell us … what do you think?