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November 1985

Swine Influenza Vaccination: Truth and Consequences

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Neurological Unit, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston.

Arch Neurol. 1985;42(11):1090-1092. doi:10.1001/archneur.1985.04060100076027

Thirty years ago, Miller and Stanton were aware of the controversy that surrounds vaccinations when they stated: "It must be admitted that in the heat of the emotional battle provoked by propaganda for and against prophylactic inoculation, there has been a tendency on the part of the medical profession to turn a blind eye to unfortunate individual complications of procedures which have the indisputable sanction of social value."1

Several controversial issues have emerged in the aftermath of the National Swine Influenza Immunization Program of 1976.2-5 One of the most important issues concerns the application and interpretation of biostatistics and epidemiologic data in establishing cause-and-effect relationships.

The first aspect of the problem is exemplified by the statements made by Guerrero et al6 and subsequently repeated by Retailliau et al,7 as well as by many others in slightly different form as follows: "Unlike the Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) for which

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