Archive for Pandemic

H1N1 WHO exaggerated threat? Influenced by drug makers ?

Posted in Flu Chip, Flu Shot, H1N1, Vaccinations with tags , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by saynsumthn

Reports accuse WHO of exaggerating H1N1 threat, possible ties to drug makers
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, June 4, 2010; 3:52 PM

European criticism of the World Health Organization‘s handling of the H1N1 pandemic intensified Friday with the release of two reports that accused the agency of exaggerating the threat posed by the virus and failing to disclose possible influence by the pharmaceutical industry on its recommendations for how countries should respond.

The WHO’s response caused widespread, unnecessary fear and prompted countries around the world to waste millions of dollars, according to one report. At the same time, the Geneva-based arm of the United Nations relied on advice from experts with ties to drug makers in developing the guidelines it used to encourage countries to stockpile millions of doses of antiviral medications, according to the second report.

The reports outlined the drumbeat of criticism that has arisen, primarily in Europe, of how the world’s leading health organization responded to the first influenza pandemic in more than four decades.

“For WHO, its credibility has been badly damaged,” wrote Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, a prominent British medical journal, that published one of the reports. “WHO must act now to restore its credibility.”

A spokesman for the WHO, along with several independent experts, however, strongly disputed the reports, saying they misrepresented the seriousness of the pandemic and the WHO’s response, which was carefully formulated and necessary given the potential threat.

“The idea that we declared a pandemic when there wasn’t a pandemic is both historically inaccurate and downright irresponsible,” said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl in a telephone interview. “There is no doubt that this was a pandemic. To insinuate that this was not a pandemic is very disrespectful to the people who died from it.”

The first report, released in Paris, came from the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which launched an investigation in response to allegations that the WHO’s response to the pandemic was influenced by drug companies that make antiviral drugs and vaccines.

“The parliamentary assembly is alarmed about the way in which the H1N1 influenza pandemic has been handled, not only by the World Health Organization (WHO), but also by the competent health authorities at the level of the European Union and at national level,” the 18-page draft report states.

“It is particularly troubled by some of the consequences of decisions taken and advice given leading to distortion of priorities of public health services across Europe, waste of large sums of public money, and also unjustified scares and fears about health risks faced by the European public at large,” according to the report.

The second report, a joint investigation by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which is based in London, criticized 2004 guidelines the WHO developed based in part on the advice of three experts who received consulting fees from the two leading manufacturers of antiviral drugs used against the virus, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.

“We are left wondering whether major public health organizations are able to effectively manage the conflicts of interest that are inherent in medical science,” the report states.

Hartl dismissed those charges.

“WHO would say categorically that it believes that it has not been subject to undue conflict-of-interest. We know that some experts that come to our committees have contact with industry. It would be surprising if they didn’t because the best experts are sought by all organizations,” Hartl said. “We feel that the guidelines produced were certainly not subject to undue influence.”

Several other experts also defended the agency.

“Twenty-twenty hindsight can always second guess the decisions of public health officials,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a private nonprofit group. “But this kind of condemnation of public health officials who made the most prudent decisions based on available knowledge could well backfire in future emergencies: I fear that public health officials will draw the lesson that they should wait for greater scientific certainty before responding in the future — and we could pay for that overcaution with many lives lost.”

In response to the criticism, the WHO has launched two investigations, including one by an independent panel of experts led by Harvey Fineberg, who heads the Institute of Medicine at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

These reports raise questions about potential, inappropriate influences on WHO decision-making in the assessment and response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and, more generally, question practices employed by WHO to guard against conflict of interest among its expert advisers,” Fineberg said in an e-mail. “These topics are among those that will be fully considered by our review committee.”

Toyota 52 deaths, Gardasil 49. Toyota recalled.

Posted in Gardasil, Vaccinations with tags , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2010 by saynsumthn

Barbara Hollingsworth: Time for the truth about Gardasil
By: Barbara Hollingsworth
Local Opinion Editor
March 30, 2010

Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all cancer deaths, so it was somewhat surprising when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked approval of Gardasil, a Merck vaccine targeting the human papilloma virus that causes the disease, in 2006.

As of Jan. 31, 2010, 49 unexplained deaths following Gardasil injections have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (http://vaers.hhs.gov/index). By contrast, 52 deaths are attributed to unintended acceleration in Toyotas, which triggered a $2 billion recall.

No recall for Gardasil, which is required for sixth-grade girls in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and many other states. Parents can opt out, but few know the true risks.
That was the certainly the case for Mary Davison of Frederick, Md., whose three daughters had the second of a three-shot vaccination regimen in January 2008. Her two younger girls had no reactions, but 20-year-old Mary Katherine felt sick and dizzy.

A subsequent magnetic resonance imaging scan showed that the Hood College student had a major stroke, and she spent almost two months in rehab before she could walk again. However, it wasn’t until the family’s primary care physician refused to schedule Mary Katherine’s third injection that her mom “finally put two and two together,” she told the Washington Examiner.

A month later, Lisa Ericzon of Alexandria Bay, N.Y., found her 17-year-old daughter Jessica dead on the bathroom floor just 40 hours after her third Gardasil injection. The coroner listed the cause as “undetermined natural causes.”

Jessica had pain and dizziness following her second Gardasil shot. “At the time, we didn’t think about any connection with the vaccination,” Ericzon told me. “But later, when I got on the Internet, I found all of the side effects Jessica complained about and three other women told me their daughters had also died within days of being vaccinated.”

One of those women was Emily Tarsell, of Sparks, Md., whose 21-year-old daughter Christina died 18 days after receiving her final Gardasil injection and experiencing fatigue, dizziness, and a pounding heartbeat. “We had no clue that these were all symptoms of something,” her mother said. Neither an autopsy or toxicology screen could determine the cause of death.

An October 2008 CDC report said 28 million girls and women who received Gardasil had no more adverse medical outcomes than those who hadn’t gotten the shots. But in February 2009, the National Vaccine Information Center (nvic.org) used CDC’s own data to contradict the government’s findings: Gardasil was associated “with at least four times as many death and cardiac arrest reports” as a similar vaccine, and “seemed to be associated with an unusually high number of reports of atypical collapse. …”

The August 2009 Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 89 percent of adverse Gardasil reactions submitted to VAERS had “insufficient identifying information to permit clinical follow-up or review.”

Merck denies any of the deaths are related to its vaccine, and the parents involved can’t prove they were. A Merck spokeswoman would only refer me to the VAERS Web site.
“CDC is still saying this is a safe vaccine. With Pap smears, there was no medical reason for fast-tracking FDA approval. They made it sound like it was some kind of pandemic,” Tarsell added. “No one ever calls you, no one ever follows up.”

Indeed, two months after Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., asked CDC to contact Tarsell, she has yet to hear from them. The feds “totally ignored us,” echoed Ericzon.
Barbara F. Hollingsworth is the Washington Examiner’s local opinion editor.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Time-for-the-truth-about-Gardasil-89466882.html#ixzz0kRpedz85

Skepticism on Swine Flu’s Danger Limits European Vaccine Demand

Posted in Flu Shot, H1N1, Swine Flu, Vaccinations with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by saynsumthn

From Bloomberg

By Andrea Gerlin

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) — Fewer Europeans are getting pandemic flu vaccine than typically get seasonal flu shots, as safety concerns and lower-than-expected death rates have damped demand.

The U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany and France have vaccinated less than 10 percent of their populations, compared with 20 percent in Europe in a typical flu season. As a result, a fraction of the European Union’s 500 million people will be protected against the pandemic virus by early next year.

Public concerns that the vaccines made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and Baxter International Inc. may cause serious side effects have kept some Europeans on the sidelines since governments began vaccinating residents for free in October. That means Europe may donate more doses to poorer countries or experience a surge in hospital admissions if the virus mutates.

“If it’s not in the news anymore and if people don’t experience a lot of severe cases, to them it’s just a flu and not a pandemic flu in a way,” said Christian Ruef, professor of infectious disease and director of infection control at University Hospital Zurich. “The term pandemic to them is probably associated with more serious disease.”

The number of deaths is lower than what was predicted in worst-case scenarios after the virus first struck, Ruef said. Perceptions that the virus is mild may be hampering vaccination, he said.

The European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases said on Nov. 23 that it was concerned about “mixed levels of uptake” and opposition from anti-vaccine activists challenging the safety of and need for the shot. The vaccines made by London-based Glaxo, Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis and Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter were approved for use by the European Medicines Agency.

Unpredictable Virus

“No one should reject a safe and effective vaccine when we are dealing with an unpredictable virus capable of killing children and young adults in their prime,” said Javier Garau, president of the Basel-based European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

More than 8,768 people worldwide have died from swine flu since it was first identified in Mexico and the U.S. in April, the Geneva-based World Health Organization said on Dec. 4. More than 850 deaths have been reported in Europe since April, according to the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. As many as 500,000 people globally die of seasonal flu each year, according to the WHO.

Officials expect the virus to be prevalent again in 2010. The WHO in September decided to include swine flu in the vaccine for seasonal influenza in the next Southern Hemisphere flu season, meaning the agency believes it’s the most likely H1N1 strain to be circulating.

Polish Negotiations

Poland hasn’t used any vaccine so far, the country’s health ministry said.

We’ve been negotiating with producers for at least a month now because we want them to guarantee the vaccine’s safe and take responsibility for any unwanted side effects, and that’s something they don’t want to do,” said Piotr Olechno, a Polish Health Ministry spokesman. The government is in talks with five companies, Olechno said. He declined to name them.

The U.K. has shipped 10 million doses of swine flu vaccine to family doctors, who have inoculated about 1.6 million of the 9.3 million people in risk groups, England’s Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson said Dec. 3. That’s less than 2 percent of the country’s entire population of about 60 million.

Washing Hands

To reduce the risk of catching swine flu, Emma Murphy is washing her and her toddler’s hands more often, avoiding people with colds and stocking up on honey and lemon. She and her 17- month-old son won’t get immunized.

They put the vaccine out so quickly that I wouldn’t feel secure in giving it to him,” said Murphy, 29, a human resources assistant and student in Manchester, England, in an interview. “We’re being scared into making the decision by people saying children are dying.”

Italy had immunized 494,915 people out of about 60 million who live there as of Nov. 22, according to a Dec. 2 Health Ministry press release. France, where two patients died from a mutated version of the H1N1 virus that causes swine flu, has given pandemic shots to about 1.3 million people since Oct. 20, Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin said on Dec. 3. The French government has ordered 94 million doses of vaccine for the country’s 63 million people.

Hard Decision

Parisian Simone Cartier said she “agonized” over whether to have her daughters, ages 2 and 5, immunized against swine flu. She doesn’t know anyone who has had the illness. After reading about the vaccine, she became concerned that it was produced too quickly and contains an adjuvant, an ingredient that boosts the immune system’s response. She then spoke to her doctor and changed her mind. Two weeks ago, she waited three hours in a school gym to get Glaxo’s Pandemrix shot for herself and her daughters.

“The night before going I thought: Am I going to inject my children with this poison or in 20 years am I going to be in front of a judge with kids who are sick?” said Cartier, 35, who works in book production. “Five minutes before leaving, I wanted to turn around. I try not to think about it.”

In Ireland, more than 150,000 people in risk groups — pregnant women and people with underlying illnesses — had been vaccinated as of Nov. 25, Gerry Mulligan of the Health Service Executive said. The country has had lower-than-expected uptake among children under 5 since it began vaccinating them in mid- November, Mulligan said. Ireland started vaccinating schoolchildren on Nov. 30, he said.

In the German federal state of Thuringia, 150,000 of 2.3 million residents have been immunized since Nov. 9, according to Thuringia’s health department.

Bright Spot

Declining swine flu rates in some countries also may deter people from getting the vaccine. England reported the fourth consecutive weekly drop in new swine flu cases on Dec. 3. Visits to U.S. doctors for influenza-like illness fell to the lowest level in three months, the government said on Dec. 4.

One bright spot in Europe’s pandemic immunization effort is Scandinavia. A third of Sweden’s 9.2 million people are estimated to have gotten the swine flu shot as of Nov. 20, according to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. About 3.3 million doses of vaccine had been delivered to Sweden as of Nov. 20 and demand has outpaced supply.

“Everybody in my family got the shot,” said Jenny Mattisson, 36, a mother of three who lives in a suburb of Stockholm and usually doesn’t get a seasonal flu shot. “Our daughter is in a risk group so we wanted to try to minimize the chance of her getting sick, but I would have taken it anyway. I think it’s a good idea to get the vaccine; it helps slow it from spreading.”

Norway, U.S. Demand

Norway, where mutations in the H1N1 virus have been detected among two patients who died of the flu and one who was severely ill, had vaccinated all 1.2 million people in its risk groups as of Nov. 24, almost 25 percent of its total population, said Bjoerne-Inge Larsen, director general of Norway’s Directorate of Health. Finland has immunized about 1 million people, or 19 percent of its population, the government said on Nov. 26.

In the U.S., demand for the vaccine has been strong, with quick uptake of doses as they become available and waiting times at many providers, said Joseph Quimby, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview on Dec. 4. Doctors had administered about 20 million shots by mid- November. Health officials plan to release updated estimates of inoculations in the next few weeks, Quimby said.

There were 73 million vaccine doses available for distribution by the end of last week and an additional 10 million doses arriving this week, CDC director Thomas Frieden said in a press conference Dec. 4. Some states are beginning to offer the shots to a wider audience, after initial supplies were focused on protecting pregnant women, children and adults with chronic health conditions.

How U.N. redefined ‘pandemic’ to heighten alarm over H1N1

Posted in Flu Chip, Flu Shot, H1N1, Swine Flu, Vaccinations, Veri-Chip with tags , , , , , , on November 18, 2009 by saynsumthn

In light of a perceived swine flu outbreak, the World Health Organization raised its influenza pandemic alert to its second highest level in May – but evidence reveals the agency may have made it easier to classify the flu outbreak as a pandemic by changing its definition to omit “enormous numbers of deaths and illness” just prior to making its declaration.

Find out the latest right now at WND.com.

High Potential for False Safety Concerns with H1N1 Vaccine

Posted in Alex Jones, Civil Rights, Flu Chip, Flu Shot, Glenn Beck, H1N1, Health Care, Homeland Security, Mercury, Population Control, Swine Flu, Vaccinations, Veri-Chip with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2009 by saynsumthn

From Medical News:

Failure to account for background rates when considering adverse events from pandemic H1N1 flu vaccination could spark public panic, researchers cautioned.
Coincidental cases of dramatic events including sudden death, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and spontaneous abortion can be expected to boost the true incidence of adverse events after immunization, said Steven Black, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and colleagues online in The Lancet.

The public will need frequent reassurance of vaccine safety when events that are temporally associated with vaccination are identified, even when these events have other causes and occur at the expected background rate,” they said.

Widespread belief in spurious associations can disrupt immunization programs, the researchers noted.

They cited the example of four deaths that occurred within 24 hours of seasonal flu vaccination in 2006 in Israel that derailed the program there, even though these were high-risk patients to begin with and the number of deaths was actually lower than expected from chance alone.

The risk is high for a similar situation with the mass vaccination programs underway for H1N1 influenza, they said.

A vaccination campaign in 1976-1977 against “swine” flu was associated with elevated rates of the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Since one or two diagnoses of the syndrome per 1 million people would be expected every month, 200 or more cases of Guillain-Barré will occur as background, coincidental events during the current vaccination campaign if 100 million people in the U.S. are immunized.

The reporting of even a fraction of such a large number of cases as adverse events after immunization, with attendant media coverage, would probably give rise to intense public concern, even though the occurrence of such cases was completely predictable and would have happened in the absence of a mass campaign,” Black’s group wrote.

So, the investigators looked into background rates of some events that are most likely to raise concerns with the pandemic vaccination campaign.
A review of data from prior studies and from hospital databases showed that rates varied by year, country, age, and sex.

Overall, 3.58 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome would be expected as background events within seven days per 10 million individuals vaccinated and 21.50 per 10 million within six weeks.

Coincident sudden death would be expected to strike 0.98 people per 10 million vaccinated people within seven days of vaccination and 5.75 cases would be expected to occur within six weeks as background events.

Among women, 14.40 cases of optic neuritis would be expected for every 10 million vaccinated within seven days and 86.30 could be expected for the same population within six weeks.

For pregnant women, 397 spontaneous abortions within one day of vaccination would occur as coincidental, background events for every 1 million vaccinated.

However, the researchers cautioned that the miscarriage rate may have been an overestimate given that vaccination rates are not uniform throughout trimesters of pregnancy.

But given the large number of events that could potentially be misinterpreted as caused by vaccination, Black’s group recommended “timely and thorough analysis of safety concerns,” taking into account the chance of temporal and geographical clustering.

For example, about 2% of practices will likely have a seemingly elevated rate — more than two standard deviations above average — of post vaccination spontaneous abortion based on the normal distribution.

Although this could lead to suspicions of a link to vaccination or a specific manufacturer’s vaccine, the investigators warned that “even random events can appear to have patterns.”

The number of cases sent to passive reporting systems alone is not an appropriate method on which to rely because the “denominator” — the number vaccinated — is usually not known, they cautioned.

Comparing observed and expected rates is a better method, although that is still subject to uncertainty and differences in populations, the researchers said.
In the U.S., the voluntary Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has beefed up outreach efforts, and a new Web-based active surveillance system has been implemented along with population-based, computerized database monitoring, according to an accompanying commentary in The Lancet.

The CDC’s Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH, and Jerome Tokars, MD, MPH, wrote that other countries have mounted similarly intensive monitoring for the safety of the H1N1 vaccine, which should serve as a model for tracking safety of all vaccines in the future.

Black reported serving on the data monitoring safety board for pneumoccocal conjugate vaccine for GlaxoSmithKline and receiving honoraria for participation in scientific advisory boards for Novartis. Co-authors reported conflicts of interest with the CDC, Merck, Novartis, Wyeth, and Sanofi Pasteur.

DeStefano and Tokars reported no conflicts of interest.

Primary source: The Lancet
Source reference:
Black S, et al “Importance of background rates of disease in assessment of vaccine safety during mass immunisation with pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccines” Lancet 2009; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61877-8.

Also Read: Pregnant Women Wary of Swine Flu Shot

Oct. 27, 2009 — A new survey shows only about one in four pregnant women and mothers of young children plan to get the H1N1 flu vaccine this year, despite recommendations from public health groups urging them to do so.
The CDC, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and many other public health organizations strongly recommend that pregnant women and new mothers get both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine shots to protect themselves as well as their newborns.
The survey shows 43% of pregnant women and mothers of children younger than 2 years old plan to get a seasonal flu shot this year, up from 33% surveyed last year. But only 27% plan on getting the H1N1 flu vaccine.
Researchers say confusion and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine may be preventing many pregnant women from getting the additional protection they need…..

Unlimited Internet access during a pandemic – not realistic

Posted in free speech, H1N1, Swine Flu with tags , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by saynsumthn

SEC and Homeland Security need Web backup, GAO says
Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:53pm EDT
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Securities exchanges have a sound network back-up if a severe pandemic keeps people home and clogging the Internet, but the Homeland Security Department has done little planning, Congressional investigators said on Monday.

The department does not even have a plan to start work on the issue, the General Accountability Office said.

But the Homeland Security Department accused the GAO of having unrealistic expectations of how the Internet could be managed if millions began to telework from home at the same time as bored or sick schoolchildren were playing online, sucking up valuable bandwidth.

Experts have for years pointed to the potential problem of Internet access during a severe pandemic, which would be a unique kind of emergency. It would be global, affecting many areas at once, and would last for weeks or months, unlike a disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake.

H1N1 swine flu has been declared a pandemic but is considered a moderate one. Health experts say a worse one — or a worsening of this one — could result in 40 percent absentee rates at work and school at any given time and closed offices, transportation links and other gathering places.

Many companies and government offices hope to keep operations going as much as possible with teleworking using the Internet. Among the many problems posed by this idea, however, is the issue of bandwidth — especially the “last mile” between a user’s home and central cable systems.

“Such network congestion could prevent staff from broker-dealers and other securities market participants from teleworking during a pandemic,” reads the GAO report, available here

“The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for ensuring that critical telecommunications infrastructure is protected.”

BLOCKING WEBSITES

Private Internet providers might need government authorization to block popular websites, it said, or to reduce residential transmission speeds to make way for commerce.

The Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, a group of private-sector firms and financial trade associations, has been working to ensure that trading could continue if big exchanges had to close because of the risk of disease transmission.

“Because the key securities exchanges and clearing organizations generally use proprietary networks that bypass the public Internet, their ability to execute and process trades should not be affected by any congestion,” the GAO report reads.

However, not all had good plans for critical activities if many of their employees were ill, the report reads.

Homeland Security had done even less, it said.

“DHS has not developed a strategy to address potential Internet congestion,” the report said.

It had also not even checked into whether the public or even other federal agencies would cooperate, GAO said.

“The report gives the impression that there is potentially a single solution to Internet congestion that DHS could achieve if it were to develop an appropriate strategy,” DHS’s Jerald Levine retorted in a letter to the GAO.

An expectation of unlimited Internet access during a pandemic is not realistic,” he added.

Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak

Posted in Civil Rights, Flu Chip, Flu Shot, H1N1, Martial Law, National Guard, New World Order, Obama, Swine Flu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by saynsumthn

FROM CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. military wants to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials.

The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command’s Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary.

The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military.

It has yet to be determined how many troops would be needed and whether they would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve forces.

Civilian authorities would lead any relief efforts in the event of a major outbreak, the official said. The military, as they would for a natural disaster or other significant emergency situation, could provide support and fulfill any tasks that civilian authorities could not, such as air transport or testing of large numbers of viral samples from infected patients.

As a first step, Gates is being asked to sign a so-called “execution order” that would authorize the military to begin to conduct the detailed planning to execute the proposed plan.

Orders to deploy actual forces would be reviewed later, depending on how much of a health threat the flu poses this fall, the officials said.

Read: Obama Withholding troops from Afghanistan, on reserve for Martial Law?

More to read here: National Guard to Administer H1N1 Swine Flu Shots

UPDATED – Also Read:

Don’t Blame Flu Shots for All Ills, Officials Say
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

As soon as swine flu vaccinations start next month, some people getting them will drop dead of heart attacks or strokes, some children will have seizures and some pregnant women will miscarry.

But those events will not necessarily have anything to do with the vaccine. That poses a public relations challenge for federal officials, who remember how sensational reports of deaths and illnesses derailed the large-scale flu vaccine drive of 1976.

This time they are making plans to respond rapidly to such events and to try to reassure a nervous public — and headline-hunting journalists — that the vaccine is not responsible.

Every year, there are 1.1 million heart attacks in the United States, 795,000 strokes and 876,000 miscarriages, and 200,000 Americans have their first seizure. Inevitably, officials say, some of these will happen within hours or days of a flu shot.