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Injections, Ejections: The H1N1 Enigma

December 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


Health0Over the last couple of months, hello-kisses and pleasantries of ‘how are you?’ and ‘can you believe this weather’ have been replaced by distant smiles and rhetoric fringed with panic and utter confusion. All this – while worshiped Purell dispensers of a palpable deity status not seen since SARS’s heyday, oust Holy Water at religious gatherings.

Since health officials declared in October the ‘Second Wave’ of a pandemic that was first reported in Mexico this past spring – the 2009 flu pandemic, a.k.a. swine flu and politically appropriate, H1N1 influenza virus – the hottest topic these days is whether to sink or swim with the biggest mass vaccination program that has sloshed and frothed onto Canadian shores.

With previous controversy surrounding the federal government’s comportment stemming from pace or lack of flu clinics, vaccine shortages, high-priority groups and queue jumping, it was announced on Nov. 18, 2009, that H1N1 shots were at last obtainable to everyone in the GTA. The announcement of available vaccine came at a time when some 905 areas reported a decrease in flu activity, and health experts either encouraged people to get the vaccine to prevent a ‘Third Wave,’ while other infectious disease experts said that the H1N1 outbreak had past its peak. With the Holidays approaching, will H1N1 take a break?

Amidst the hysteria and need to figure out the real truth about H1N1, who can blame us for pausing in vulnerability and self-doubt, because really, we all don’t know which avenue will reveal itself as the right side of the road.

“First and foremost, it’s your personal choice,” says Dr. Marija Pevac-Djukic, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto with European medical training. “My patients ask me, ‘should I get it?’ Well, there’s no straight answer,” she says. The H1N1 vaccine takes 10 days to start working with an ability to fully protect a person 70 – 90 per cent, depending on their age, health and the similarity between the virus in the vaccine and the virus in circulation.

Perhaps you have become a customer of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the Britain-based pharmaceutical giant manufacturing the H1N1 vaccine for Canadians at a plant in Ste-Foy, Que., by receiving the vaccine.

On Nov. 19, 2009, the CBC chillingly reported that GSK – which markets over 25 vaccines to prevent measles, mumps, typhoid, bacterial meningitis, and more – requested Canadian health officials to stop inoculating the population with a particular batch of vaccine delivered in October because it appeared “to be causing higher rates of severe allergic reactions.”

“Viruses are part of the world we live in ­– instead of waiting around for a miracle shot in the arm, why not be proactive about your health on a regular basis, so that when these mystery viruses pop up – you’re not shaking in your boots.” – Jason Granzotto, N.D.

As the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company, which researches World Health Organization’s priority ailments: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, GSK is currently litigating claims in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., for possible birth defects and conditions associated with suicidal tendencies from its antidepressant drug Paxil.

Another option you have or will consider is to boost your natural immune response with naturopathic care. It is fact that people do pass away from seasonal influenza, which usually runs from November to April. Health Canada’s website says between 4,000 and 8,000 Canadians die from pneumonia-related flu each year.

For naturopathic doctor Jason Granzotto at Vaughan Medical Centre, he prefers to “strengthen an individual’s innate immune system without relying on a foreign and artificial intervention.” Granzotto recommends a booster shot geared for ages four and up called Pascoleucyn Forte, which contains echinacea and other homeopathic remedies to help protect us from getting sick. “Viruses are part of the world we live in ­– instead of waiting around for a miracle shot in the arm, why not be proactive about your health on a regular basis, so that when these mystery viruses pop up – you’re not shaking in your boots,” he advises.

If you’re one of many who haven’t received the vaccine yet or are just opposed to it, you probably mull around the dinner table, consulting with family or indulging in broken-telephone while background clips from every major news outlet air chameleonic H1N1 as their leading story on the 6 o’clock broadcast. This has us asking: ‘Who is the high-priority group now?’ ‘Was the vaccine developed too quickly?’ ‘Is the adjuvant safe? ‘Will my children die if I don’t have them inoculated?’

As of Nov. 18, 2009, 2.4 million people in Ontario received the H1N1 vaccine, with one death from anaphylaxis and 36 people suffering from life-threatening adverse effects associated with the adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine. Adjuvant is a chemical additive that stretches supply and boosts immune response. Of 100,000 doses distributed, the rate of serious adverse reactions is 0.54. “They are very rare, but they are part of all mass vaccination campaigns and we expect to see a small number of them,” said Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. David Butler-Jones in a story published on

The vaccine does contain the controversial preservative thimerosal (mercury), which is very toxic if inhaled, ingested or if it touches skin. Most medical experts believe the extremely small amount of mercury – eliminated through urine – does not pose a significant health concern.

In most countries, thimerosal is no longer used in childhood vaccination schedules. This comes as a thankful relief for a concerned body of parents, scientists and doctors, which believe the unconfirmed possibility that mercury can cause autism.

Dr. Chris Mackie, associate medical officer of health at Public Health Services in Hamilton, Ont., defends the vaccine and explains how human psychology is the reason behind our hesitations. “It’s pretty common for people to believe that their immune system is more effective than someone else’s,” explains the doctor, whose research interests include immunization and early childhood development. “Some people will believe, ‘I’m going to do better than the average so I’m probably not going to get this infection, so I don’t have to get this vaccine.’” Dr. Mackie also notes that the risk of getting H1N1 is higher than contracting an autoimmune disorder. “It’s actually more likely for someone to get Guillain-Barré Syndrome after getting an H1N1 infection than you are with the vaccine!” GBS is a rare neurological disease that causes paralysis.

Of course, it is only natural, just as our immune systems should be, to languish over injection or ejection of the H1N1 vaccine. “I cannot tell people to be vaccinated or not because I believe in the freedom of choice,” says Gary Null, an American-based, award-winning journalist who holds a doctorate in public health science and human nutrition. “But if vaccine manufacturers are so confident that their vaccines were safe and effective, then why did they demand complete immunity identification? With swine flu, you can’t even sue anybody, so if you get sick or die, tough luck,” adds Null, who believes the vaccine was developed too quickly.

Besides washing your hands, practising proper hygiene and alcoholizing surfaces and door knobs (germs can live for a surprisingly long time on hard surfaces), Null also recommends that we strengthen our immune systems by removing junk food, meat and chicken from our diet, and replace it with vegan, organic, locally grown produce, fresh veggies, ginger and garlic. “Take vitamin C, zinc, selenium, a good, high-potency vitamin, plus colloidal silver. Have wild oregano standing by in case you start feeling yourself coming down with something. Put your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide at night to minimize the chance for rebound infection.”

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be told I had H1N1,” says a Vaughan schoolteacher.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, as of Nov. 17, 2009, 198 people in Canada have died due to the pandemic, but the number of H1N1 cases has not been released. If you or someone that you know has experienced flu-like symptoms and has been diagnosed with H1NI, was your case laboratory confirmed via diagnostic tools? “You may know of someone who has been told they have had the swine flu. However, not everyone who is told this actually has it. The presence of the H1N1 virus, or any influenza virus for that matter, must be confirmed through lab tests. The flip side is that you may have had the H1N1 virus, and assumed it was a run-of-the-mill cold,” says chiropractic doctor Amy Robinson of Vibrant Life Chiropractic.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be told I had H1N1,” says a Vaughan schoolteacher. “I waited almost six hours to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic and when he saw me I felt like he was brushing me off. He just asked me what I was feeling – sore throat, the chills, fever, cough. He wasn’t even going to look at my throat – I had to tell him to. I wanted it to be confirmed but I was told, ‘we do not swab anymore. But you have all the symptoms.’”

While the general population sheds obligatory niceties to neighbours and friends to instead delve deep into conversations that explore the murky scientific and historic waters of pandemic parlance, a blast to the past has us revisiting the tragedies of the Spanish Flu in 1918, when 50 million people died and 500 million were infected by a deadly virus strain of subtype H1N1. Match that with just one death from the swine flu fiasco of 1976 in Fort Dix, U.S., which sparked an unnecessary mass immunization program that triggered the deaths of 25 people and 500 cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and our critical-thinking capabilities go awry.

“I have a three-year-old and a three-month-old and with everything going on in the news, I thought I would just not take any chances,” says Christina Bono, who braced brisk winds as she and hundreds stood in line for hours during the first H1N1 flu clinic at Vellore Village Community Centre in Vaughan. Two days before, 13-year-old minor hockey player Evan Frustaglio tragically and suddenly passed away from H1N1. “There’s going to be a lot of consternation because anyone who chooses not to vaccinate [their children] is going to be considered as ‘irresponsible’ and a bad parent. The problem is that we’re entering a period where a big pharma[ceutical] has tried to convince people that there is a problem they’re suffering from and only they have the answer – and I’m saying it’s not true,” says Null. “The immune system in people who are healthy is extremely resilient … this is how we’ve survived throughout the millennia.”

The World Health Organization website reports that “as of Nov. 1, 2009, worldwide more than 199 countries and overseas territories/communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 6,000 deaths.”

During these times, let us make a well-informed choice based on information, not from water-cooler talk.

*Statistics in this feature may change due to time of publication.

For more information, go to:,,,,
Telehealth Ontario: 1.866.797.0000

Top 10 Immune Boosters by Dr. Amy Robinson — Vibrant Life Chiropractic

Listen to your body
Early signs may include tiredness, appetite changes and irritability.

Keep stress in check
Slow down your pace. Take an Epsom salt bath.

Get exercise and fresh air daily
Movement keeps the lymphatic system flowing, which clears germs out of your system.

Eat healthy whole foods
Onions, garlic, ginger and honey are the best time-proven natural cold and flu fighters.

Minimize sugar, caffeine, preservatives & food additives
One tablespoon of sugar can shut your immune system down for 8 hours!

Drink purified water
Dehydration limits your body’s ability to flush out toxins.

Choose natural approaches over medicine
A eucalyptus oil steam bath calms respiratory disorders.

Establish a healthy sleep routine
Sleep is when your body restores itself and heals.

Get adjusted by a chiropractor
Adjustments stimulate immune responses for quicker, more efficient healing.

Take high-quality supplements
A multivitamin/multi-mineral combination, Essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6, 9), Probiotics/acidophilus.


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