United States House of Representatives
Statement in Opposition to H Res 1003, National Influenza Vaccine Week
January 26, 2010
Madam Speaker, I oppose H. Res. 1003, designating January 10, 2010 through January 16, 2010 as National Influenza Vaccination Week. While I believe the American people should be made aware of infectious diseases and common sense preventative measures, I am concerned that this resolution continues the hysterical reaction from government officials to the swine flu outbreak.
As a physician, I have yet to see any evidence that justifies the current level of alarm. Influenza typically kills around 36,000 people every year in this country and hospitalizes a couple hundred thousand. In the almost a year since swine flu made its first appearance in the U.S., there have been only a handful of confirmed deaths attributable to this strain, and most of those sickened have or will fully recover. Every death is tragic, but I see no reason to deal with this flu outbreak any differently than we typically deal with any other flu season. Instead, the federal government has responded with invasive screening at airports, closing down schools and sporting events, and causing general panic.
There have also been discussions of mandating that certain populations be forced to receive the swine flu vaccine. I would remind my colleagues that during the 1976 outbreak of swine flu only 1 America died from the flu, but mandatory vaccinations killed at least 25 before the program was abandoned.
Madam Speaker, the panicked reaction to swine flu outbreak demonstrates why the Federal Government should not become involved in health care. Instead, decisions as to how best to deal with infectious disease should be left to local communities, health care providers, and, most importantly of all, individual citizens. Patients should always have the right to make their own decision about whether or not to receive a vaccine after getting full information on both the risks and the benefits of vaccines from their health care provider.