Thursday, December 10, 2009

Democracy FAIL: mexican flu vaccination

There's a famous quote by President Thomas Jefferson that goes approximately like this: "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." President Jefferson, by the way, was the guy that more or less drafted the Declaration of Independence, and a vocal spokesperson for human rights in a time when slavery was the norm.

With how the mexican flu vaccine fiesta has played out in Norway, I'm on board with Jefferson's statement. 'Cause so far, the story has played out something like this:
  1. Flu strand is discovered and identified as potential pandemic, being that it's essentially the mutated bird flu version 2.0. Lots of "We're all gonna die of the mexican flu" headlines and general uproar.
  2. The mexican flu is identified as mostly resulting in mild influenza symtoms. According to media, we're still all gonna die from this pandemic.
  3. The Norwegian government buys vaccines to the tune of more than two inoculations per citizen. All of a sudden the media outlets are filled with angry citizens decrying the government for spending money on vaccines against what's essentially a mild flu anyways. Surely we could use the tax money better, like lowering prices on gasoline and alcohol or improving the roads. And won't somebody please think of the CHILDREN. To the surprise on noone, a veritable line-up of losers gets free media time by claiming that a) vaccines in general are dangerous and will kill you and b) this vaccine in particular will kill you like you won't believe it. Citizens are enraged.
  4. The first mexican flu casualties start to occur in Norway. Death tolls are all over the media. Mob mood shifts. All of a sudden, it's "When can we get the vaccine"?
  5. Vaccines start to arrive, and the high-risk population starts to get inoculations. Death count now reaches into the double digits. Citizens are absolutely in a frenzy - we have a right to be vaccinated, don't you realize that this is a pandemic? The government has a responsibility to secure its population from dangerous disease, and won't SOMEBODY think of the children.
  6. The manufacturer screws up an entire batch meant for Norway, and vaccination of the general population is delayed. Citizens start to threat their GPs physically and stating that "If I don't get the vaccine and I die from the mexican flu - you and the government is to blame". Media is still completely saturated with mexican flu stories.
  7. Mass vaccination is initiated. In our municipality, only a handful of people bothered to show up. The media picture is supersaturated with "OHMIGAWD; Obama is gonna be in Norway for two and a half hours next week."

To end with another Jefferson quote: "The best argument against democracy is spending five minutes with the average voter"


Anders said...

I'm usually not that bother about people making false comments about science or medicine in the news*.

But I start getting annoyed by all of those quacks and ignorant people that get media exposure these days. I can't believe that the press still give the quacks, those against the vaccine because FBI has mixed GPS-senders and jedi-mind-trick-nanobots in there, the same status/ treatment as serious researches and professional. What's up with that? Where is the critical and informative press?

I'm equal discouraged by people opt out of the vaccination because they have "considered the risks", "prefer to get the much better and natural immunization by getting the flu" and other nonsense/ superstitious reasons. Why are suddenly everybody and his brother experts on mercury chemistry, statistics and immunization? The whole thing has made me consider supporting mandatory vaccination programs.

*That's not entirely true, but it made a good intro to my comment.

Wilhelm said...

Nice intro :-)

It's funny how most people suck at math and science yet are instant experts in statistics, chemistry and immunology from reading the same sidebar regarding the vaccine in all the major papers :-)

And considering that this particular virus already has demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that it's capable of mutating to target other species, it would be a good idea indeed to stop or hinder further transfection via vaccination. Assuming a large enough percentile of the population get the inoculations, that is.

And you gotta watch out for them jedi-mind-trick-nanobots - I hear they can even change the color of your clothes according to your mood and lock your iPod to only playing the Macarena.

Anders said...

...that's excatly why I don't have an iPod.

Have a nice weekend.

Wilhelm said...

....right back atcha'

Torbjørn said...


My iPhone's got an iPod!

Wilhelm said...

..they sure ride that "i(insert other word here)" gimmick hard, don't they?

Torbjørn said...

iThink so.

Wilhelm said...