2009-11-03

Liberal Doctors Tell Medical Lies

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is a medical doctor. I have set foot in a hospital twice in five years. Naturally that means I come out of this victorious.

In Swann's blog today (yes, today, that will become significant later), he writes the typical tug-at-heartstrings stuff that Liberals are wont to say before they either bald-faced lie to your face and/or make a play for huge amounts of your money. To give away the ending here, Swann is about to do both.

As line-ups continue across the province today, I am hearing from many concerned Albertans about the negligence, lack of planning and shortage of resources around this important vaccination campaign.

I’ve heard from parents, who are worried for their young children and frustrated by the hours of waiting imposed on their families.

I’ve heard from seniors with chronic disease, many with disabilities, who are not able to line up for hours due to their conditions. These are the very people most at risk and most likely to benefit from the vaccine!

I’ve heard from pharmacists who are inundated with phone calls after the Minister’s announcement that 400 pharmacist’s will be available to administer the vaccine shortly. These pharmacists have not been given any prior information and are frustrated that they cannot answer the questions being asked.
Wah wah wah, look at all the poor parents and seniors and babies dying of collic in the streets. I didn't spell that disease right, did I? I just want to stress that I am indeed not a medical doctor, since the Alberta Liberals take great pains to stress how indeed Swan is a doctor and, as he twittered about advertising this post he is in fact a former Public Health Officer. I am not. I just want to be 100% clear on this.

So lets reread this thing again starting with the first paragraph (my quote starts with the 2nd). And by "lets" I mean "I'll do it and spare you the agony".

Lets see here...don't panic just inoculate high risk folks, okay... hearing from concerned Albertans, okay... parents worried about the family, okay... poor seniors can't stand up long and are most at risk, ohhh -- -- -- -- -- -- -- oh not okay not okay NOT OKAY NOT OKAY!!!!!
I’ve heard from seniors...the very people most at risk and most likely to benefit from the vaccine!

- "Doctor" David Swann, former Public Health Officer
(of the government bureaucracy he reminds us is routinely incompetent)
Elderly, you may note, are not being targeted for immunization in the newly revamped plans the Alberta Government announced today. Why is this?

Why, its simple. Seniors are not in high-risk groups for the Swine Flu. Oh, also it appears that the elderly receive little benefit from the flu shot.

I’ve heard from seniors...the very people most at risk and most likely to benefit from the vaccine!
- Dr. David Swann,
former Public Health Officer
In case you hadn't followed along so far, I'm noting that the elderly in fact have a reduced risk of H1N1 because before 1957 people's immune systems already contained antibodies to defend themselves against similar ailments.

It's okay, we don't expect leaders of minor struggling opposition parties to keep abreast of swine flu developments. As Ken Chapman snapped at me yesterday, the Alberta Liberals are not in Government and so they really can't do much to actually change how Albertans get the vaccinations. [if you click the Tweet Ken is responding to, you'll find an interesting little comment. We'll come back to that one later as well. -ed] This would be a bit of a cop-out, though ultimately a somewhat excusable one, if it wasn't for the fact that its been routinely beaten over our heads by Liberal PR spinners that David Swann was a Public Health Official (in a government bureaucracy that its increasingly evident is poorly run -- or at least was a few years back).

Liberal hacks apologists might decide to jump out and note the ellipses I cut out. After all, he was only talking about chronically ill seniors, right? Well, even if he was (and I sincerely doubt it), chronically ill seniors still aren't "the very people most at risk and most likely to benefit from the vaccine" as Swann claimed. The former goes to very young children, and the latter goes to pregnant women. This might just explain why the Alberta government has decided to rank them #1 and #2 respectively in the new priority system. Don't just take my word for it: TIME Magazine did a story on the subject over the summer. They didn't consult the man who was fired for overreaching his capacity as Medical Officer for Health in a minor southern health region, I readily admit it. On the other hand, they did talk to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). Here's what they said (emphasis mine):
The 15-member panel of doctors, scientists, vaccine experts, public-health officials and a citizen representative came up with five core populations they believe should receive the first wave of H1N1/09 immunization. These include pregnant women, people living in households with babies under 6 months old (since infants cannot be immunized, they must be protected by preventing illness in those around them), emergency medical personnel who are likely to be in contact with infected patients, young people between 6 months and 24 years old, and nonelderly individuals who have underlying conditions, such as asthma, respiratory illness or a compromised immune system, that put them at higher risk of flu complications

Notably absent from the target list are the elderly, those over age 65, who are generally considered a high-risk group when it comes to seasonal influenza. Based on the populations who were hardest hit by H1N1/09 last spring, first in Mexico and then across other continents, CDC experts believe that the elderly will not be as vulnerable to H1N1/09 in the fall as younger adults might be. In fact, health officials have relegated the elderly to the back of the line for H1N1/09 vaccinations — after the five target groups have received their shots, the next eligible group would be younger, healthy adults who have no underlying medical conditions that would complicate the flu. Only after those populations have been inoculated would the elderly be permitted to receive vaccination. "People who are 65 and over are at high risk of influenza complications from seasonal influenza," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, told reporters on Wednesday. "It's important that they get the seasonal-flu shot. But the H1N1 outbreaks have so far spared that population. So I would tell them that their risk of illness from this virus is very low compared to that of younger people."

So there you have it, good people of Alberta. Either Doctor David Swann, the man who wants to be premier in 2012, knows less about H1N1 than some blogger who vaguely recalled that the elderly were not at risk from newspaper stories I glanced over weeks ago... or else the Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party is lying to the people of Alberta in order to scare a significant voting bloc into believing that the Government of Alberta is taking actions that will harm them. I leave it up to you to solve this mystery.



Now for a few loose threads to be tied up. Let's start with the input from one of my Twitter followers who saw this tweet where I first unveiled my discovery of David Swann's lie. Specifically I was told I was in error: the first lie of David Swann's post wasn't on paragraph four. It was on paragraph two.
As line-ups continue across the province today, I am hearing from many concerned Albertans about the negligence, lack of planning and shortage of resources around this important vaccination campaign.
- Dr. David Swann, had job got fired hates Klein yadda yadda yadda
Oh, I did mention at the top of this post that he wrote this today, didn't I? Good. I told you that would be significant. After all, there are no lineups at clinics today. The H1N1 vaccine has been on hold since the flu clinics closed on Saturday afternoon. This was The Bear's "hot topics" on the Paul Brown Show both yesterday and today. It was the topic of letters to the editor, it was discussed on blogs... in fact, just yesterday David Swann discussed it on his blog! While I understand Swann's desire not to have to read anything he's written twice, he possibly should remember writing it. [I sure hope his patients all got legible prescriptions from this guy! Imagine the pharmacy calling his office next afternoon for clarification and having this one-day amnesia take hold! -ed] There it is, folks. Two paragraphs for the first lie to show itself. Two more until we saw the second. His sixth paragraph reads;
Many people have suggestions about how to make positive changes to the vaccination campaign, and I would like to acknowledge their efforts to make a bad situation better for everyone.
Anybody know anybody who actually gave Swann suggestions? After all, if current trends continue...

Moving along, my editor noted an interesting little tweet I made:
@KenChapman46 The opposition MLAs not in the high risk groups (ie., most of them) can refuse to receive vaccinations until lineups cease.
Of course, I was mentioning that the Liberals and NDP can take the moral high ground and not get innoculated for H1N1. After all, they are mere politicians and aren't high priority in the event of an actual calamity. I even stated this explicitly:
@KenChapman46 I thought one of the things the left opposition parties were big about was their superior morals. I bet they jumped lines.
Saying, of course, that while the Liberals and Dippers whined a lot about the Alberta Government giving low-risk persons shots (like David Swann today upset that hockey players got shots), its all just bleating to the media... they wouldn't pass up themselves being the low-risk group given inoculations, right?

Ken didn't like that:
@FACLC Again all you give us is shallow unsubstantial comments with no evidence and U do it anonymously. Time to come out of the closet.

Well, I left that alone since the comment with "no evidence" was basically "I bet that X happened, though I have no way to know one way or the other". These comments tend to come with no evidence by default. Of course, that was until the good Doctor David Swann directed me to this blogpost he made October 28th (again, emphasis mine):
On Monday in the opening question period for this fall’s legislative session, I addressed this issue with the Premier and the Minister of Health. Both the Premier and the Minister were adamant about defending their vaccination program as it stood.

This is followed by yesterday’s announcement that 11 additional H1N1 vaccination clinics will be open to Albertans in the coming weeks. It is still unclear exactly where and when they will be open. The lack of openness and real planning around this vaccination program is evidence of a government that doesn’t understand this vital service. Twelve Albertans have died from this illness already and we’ve had months to plan for vaccine delivery. This leaves many, including myself, disappointed and angry. Seasonal vaccination programs are a regular event across the province.

At this rate of vaccination it will be Valentine’s Day before our population is fully immunized!

If I were Premier I’d make this the priority.

Please read the complete transcript from the Hansard below.

Dr. Swann: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Pandemic influenza is here.
The vaccine will save lives, and I applaud the tireless efforts of
health officials and front-line workers delivering this important
preventative measure. I myself will be getting the vaccine when I
have hours to spare. Unfortunately, there are only nine flu clinics
available between Edmonton and Calgary to cover over 2 million
people. My questions are to the Premier. With years of planning for
pandemics already completed, how is it that there are only nine
clinics providing immunization to over 2 million people in Alberta
today?
Do you think that sometime last week David Swann found the spare time to get immunized? I certainly do. And there we have some pretty compelling proof that low-risk opposition MLAs have already gotten their own swine flu shots. They certainly were planning on doing it, and if there's anything politicians are known for its carrying out plans geared towards self-interest. I'll await Ken's apology for implying the post up until this point was "shallow unsubstantial comments with no evidence".

I also notice that Swann wants us to forget that 10% of the population have gotten immunized and its expected no more than 60% will get immunized, "at this rate" the vaccine will be delivered by Christmas, not Valentine's Day. Meanwhile, the shortages of vaccine compared to original assurances is something that Swann doesn't like mentioning either. This guy sure doesn't seem to know a lot about the vaccination program he's promoting, does he? If I ever make a movie about the life of David Swann I know who I'll get to play him...

Okay one more loose end and I can wrap this post up. Unlike David Swann, I don't like to lie in my second paragraph:
In Swann's blog today (yes, today, that will become significant later), he writes the typical tug-at-heartstrings stuff that Liberals are wont to say before they either bald-faced lie to your face and/or make a play for huge amounts of your money. To give away the ending here, Swann is about to do both.

I explained the "today" significance, but now I'd like to go to the promised ending. The lies I've covered. The money is coming up now...

David Swann last night Tweeted about his 5-step plan. I tweeted right back (if you learn anything from this post its that you should follow my Twitter feed). Here's Swann's plan (on the bottom of his blog entry I've covered):
1. Open vaccine clinics immediately and give whatever vaccine exists to the highest risk people.

2. Ensure that all vaccine available now is used ONLY for high -risk individuals - young children, pregnant women, aboriginal people and people with a chronic disease. This should have been the decision from the outset.

3. Get the resources and staffing to get on with the job.

4. Invite all available health professionals, including students and retired, to assist.

5. Expand the staffing to hospitals to ensure that patients are properly treated and moved quickly to the service appropriate for their condition.
Let's go over these one by one.
  1. "Open clinics and give the vaccine away." Besides the fact I noted above that there isn't much vaccine -- province was supposed to get 300,000 in the 2nd week and got 80,000 instead -- opening more clinics is going to cost a lot more money. Surely the Leader of the Official Opposition should remember the fuss he made about how expensive the doctors were to administer these shots!

  2. This is the rationing argument. I've noted in Twitter that "Accessibility" in the Canada Health Act prohibits age or health-status discrimination in the provincial delivery of health services, so in reality Liberal Leader David Swann is proposing that Alberta violate the Canada Health Act. His contradictory hats are starting to be an issue now aren't they? It might be medically a good idea to violate The Act. On the other hand, as a Liberal MLA Swann hasn't exactly been keen on finding medically justifiable reasons to violate The Act now has he? If David Swann, M.D. wants to go on public record stating that he is in favour of any violation of the Canada Health Act which can provide health benefits for a subset of the population of Alberta I'm happy to stand toe to toe with him. Hell, he might even get my vote out of it! As it stands now though, if my tax dollars are going to some homeless guy's health you're damned skippy that I want those same tax dollars to go to my health. In fact, I would be in favour of using the workplace immunization program as a priority. People contributing to the economy of the province are of a higher priority than those who don't, n'est pas?

  3. "Spend more money." Liberals really like this answer, don't they? "Step One, lets spend more money. Step Two, lets ration services - but include vote-rich seniors even though there's no medical justification. Step Three...uh, did I mention that we should spend more money?" There's no plan in Swann's little gag here, is there? Just another plea for more cash.

  4. "Get seniors and children to volunteer". Okay, this one isn't a half bad plan: use the can-do Alberta spirit to have a group of people in an H1N1 risk category (students, not seniors) help out with immunization. Uh, I can see a slight concern there what with students being a high risk group and all. Also, isn't this the same David Swann who started off this post complaining that seniors can't stand for long periods of time? But they can be put to the mules, right Davey??

  5. Spending more money again? Liberal solutions to healthcare crisis always seem to involve the province with the highest per-capita expenditures on public health somehow putting out money money. This time there's an added bonus to Swann: more publicly funded nurses mean more cash in the union coffers that keep his dilapidated party afloat. The extra angry bitches to protest in front of the leg grounds and/or star in deceptive political ads are really only an added bonus at this point.
David Swann's plan sounds like great news to David Swann. The other 3.1-odd million folk in this province may find that their mileage varies greatly. Update, 10:24pm: If you want a response to the 3rd comment, click here for what is more-or-less Part 2 of this post.

10 comments:

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Just another David Swann lie (or piece of ignorance, whichever flavour you want to lick tonight):

Unfortunately, there are only nine flu clinics available between Edmonton and Calgary to cover over 2 million people.

Again if you followed my Twitter account you would know that surrounding communities also had clinics in place. A west-ender driving to Wabamun waited less than 20 minutes in line for their flu shots!

Anonymous said...

You're just a bitter dude, aren't you?

And those "angry bitches" are a lot of people I'm friends with. Who are you trying to impress? Do you think anyone actually cares about what you're saying?

Must be a pretty disheartening to lonely guy like you to write such a substantial post only for people like me to just glance over and ignore it.

Ken Chapman said...

Next time you quote people dump the ellipses and put in the full quotes that way you will not be able to mislead and misquote.

Having the full quote in the larger paste of the Swann post is fine but to later put it in large red letters and edit it is misleading. To repeat the misleading edited quote again later in the same blog post is even more misleading.

You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

Still no substantiation for your (mis)representations in this post either. Still no identification for who you are other than an aspiring Wizard of Odd.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I lined up the first day for an hour (yes, ONLY AN HOUR... I was told, "Oh, I'll wait until Saturday"... I said 'good luck with that'), got my shots and good to go. Didn't see ANY "high risk people" there besides the Downs' Syndrome people that were brought there by their caregivers. Now of course there aren't enough shots... Now, previously stated "high risk people" (or at least those who pretend to represent them) cry foul that they're not available. Seems now that now that they "can't" get it, they "want" it, after people are reporting the horrendous effects of H1N1... Convenient

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you can base your argument on a misrepresented quote. People with disabilities are more susceptible to this flu for whatever reason, and I believe that is what he meant rather than healthy elderly people.

The fact of the matter is that no one was really given any information prior to the opening of these clinics other than the worries from the powers that be that people weren't taking these vaccinations seriously. A lot of people were under the impression that there was a lot to go around, and there was no talk about "high risk groups" until the supplies were already dwindling. On that note, elderly and disabled people were not told not to go and subsequently waited hours for a vaccination that possibly did not even help them.

Basically the problem is lack of planning, and especially lack of proper information given to the general public.

Anonymous said...

I wish that you would spend all of the time an energy you spent dissecting one sentence of David Swann's blog post and use it for something more productive.

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Anonymous said...

Who is the ignorant one here? Your post creatively edits a quote from Dr. Swann (yes he's a medical doctor, as in educated, you mallard) but leaves all of your own spelling and grammar mistakes intact. I am a doctor too (wow, another one) and for your info, colic is spelled with one "l" not two.

You describe yourself as "a brilliant scientist, a quick-witted conservative extremist, a good storyteller, and a lover of women booze and food." I can say none of all of that is true except perhaps the extremist bit and the booze and food. "Women" would be pushing it but of course you can love them all you want, they don't have to love you back though. Forgot to mention I'm a female ;-)

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Who is the ignorant one here? Your post creatively edits a quote from Dr. Swann

I can't believe that you can base your argument on a misrepresented quote.

What I can't believe is that people didn't bother to read what I wrote (is this why doctors proscribe medications that openly conflict with the medical status of their patients? Is it a lack of reading?)

I wrote a whole paragraph directed at Liberal apologists such as most of the comments above. Did you notice what it said? Even with the full quote, Swann's statement directly contradicts the medical community's opinion of H1N1 vaccination priorities. It was awfully big and wieldy to use as a quote, and I cut it. Pre-emptively seeing all you had to strike at me with was this cut, I covered my bases there.

You all suck at baseball. Two of the last three anonymouses are the Toronto Blue Jays of blog commenting.

Third Edge of the Sword Editor said...

The last anonymous writes:

Your post creatively edits a quote from Dr. Swann (yes he's a medical doctor, as in educated, you mallard) but leaves all of your own spelling and grammar mistakes intact.

I tend to edit grammatical errors with a wide discretionary brush. Part of the appeal I've discovered about the boss's writing is that its conversational, like that old cowboy who writes polemic as if you're at a BBQ with him (literally: he pauses to talk about the imaginary food). As for spelling mistakes, "colic" was deliberate. It is also the only spelling mistake in this entire post.

She also wrote:"yes he's a medical doctor". When was that in dispute? The very first words of the post are "Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is a medical doctor."