Comments by The_Flu_Guru

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Posted on January 15 at 12:40 p.m.

Good write up.

I was amazed by the level of insight evinced by Officer Keld Hove when I had the honor of speaking with him on a panel with Sheila Lodge, Rob Fredericks and others. And the vignette shared in this article is vintage Hove. Sgt. Olsen is on a roll with a good precedent.

However, I believe that the Freedom Warming Center is a good idea which has been horribly mismanaged. It is salvagable, however, and recent turnover at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara is a hopeful development.

I agree with Sgt. Olsen that creating dependencies is an ongoing problem of welfare state programs, and I agree that the warming center should not be the candy store. But I disagree with Sgt. Olsen if he means that there should not be a vigorous compliment of services such as cough hygiene education, promotion of handwashing protocols, smoking cessation, and trainings which will prevent disease.

My efforts to promote this agenda has created split opinion. Despite support from many sitting and former electeds and health professionals, my admittedly abrasive manner has not been helpful in overcoming inertia on the part of warming center staff. They have stated in writing that they believe my Cough Hygiene Initiative corrodes staff morale and agitates their clientele. The impasse has resisted many third party efforts to mediate.

In view of recent developments - the meningitis outbreak and the tragic death of a young person due to influenza - I am re-inventing that project as the Collaborative Hygiene Initiative. This is in part due to prospects for an eventual renewal of the collaborative relationship I once enjoyed when I advocated for funding the warming centers and was a member of the county advisory committee. And it is in part recognition of the wonderful support I have received from so many, including Project HEAL (Health Empowerment and Love) of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara.

I hope that our board approves, and Sgt Olsen can schedule, an opportunity for him to speak at one of our meetings. Thank you to the Indy for running the story.

Geof Bard, Coordinator
Collaborative Hygiene Initiative of the
Alliance to Teach Everywhere About Community Health

On Sgt. Ed Olsen Puts Restorative Policing on the Map

Posted on January 11 at 6:38 p.m.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino has been keenly interested in protecting the public, not only his own constituents but the citizens and residents of the county as a whole, from influenza. When other Supervisors treated the topic with kid gloves, Steve took the bull by the horns, discussing it from the dias and then actually taking a flu shot during a Board meeting.

There will always be constituents who will play the role of gadfly and recycle disproven arguments against vaccination. Thus, there is some minimal political risk in supporting scienc 'based policies. This is analogous, perhaps, to the miniscule risk of getting a shot.

Steve Lavagnino is not afraid to take such risks and thus deserves commendation and respect from both sides of the aisle for his forthright and sensible attitude toward the whole issue of vaccination and influenza.

At this writing, there are already several people in other California counties which have had the sad reality of influenza deaths, H1N1 does not strike only the elderly and the very young but rather young adults as well. The sad reality is that it will get that much more attention because as a society there is an ideology that somehow we don't owe it to those most vulnerable to be protected in the public commons'

Libertarians in many cases want total freedom to shirk their responsibility to not injure others. They think it is their inherent right to go about shedding viral and bacterial pollution, But what they don't acknowledge is that they are doing so in the public sphere using buses, libraries and government parks and buildings where other people have rights too.

One of the virtues of the Republican Party is that it incorporates a balance between libertarian ideology, which utterly fails when it comes to matters of public health, and reasonable state regulation.

In the future, it is my hope that Steve and other Republicans and Democrats will review the California Personal Belief Exemption, This allows individual parents to send their kids to school without proper immunization, according to my sources. If this is in fact legal, it accounts for the fact that San Luis Obispo is an epicenter of whooping cough amongst youngsters, in which case it probably affects Supervisor Lavagnino's District as well,

People can espouse libertarian theories all they want, but if they are sending their kids to public schools it is wrong for them to shirk vaccination and rely upon collective or group threshold immunity {my term for so called "herd immunity"). In other words, they claim a personal belief that YOU should vaccinate YOUR kids. The problem is that vaccination efficacy rates of 65-90%are common. Thus, libertarian vaccine shirkers use public resources in a selfish manner endangering others'

Steve Lavagnino, like many Republicans, has as much common sense about such matters as any Democrat. I have high expectations in this regard.

Geof Bard
Cough Hygiene Initiative
Alliance to Teach

On Sit-Down with Steve Lavagnino

Posted on January 11 at 3:32 p.m.

Maybe. But the last century saw triumphs and failures.

Gerald Ford mismanaged the 1976 swine flu outbreak. Sabin and other scientists, esp the Europeans, criticized Ford's hard sell vaccination drive. The botched campaign spun out of control.

The legacy was legal precedent which scared manufacturers out of the business of vaccine development. The industry has never recovered. For this reason, there are far too few new antibiotics on line to help with the global crisis of rising antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Uninformed people discourage trust in science and advocate natural antibiotic remedies which are nothing more than wishful thinking.
Inconvenient Reality: Herbal tea will not stop viruses.

This century saw the rise of the new Luddhites.

Several vax-sceptical fundamentalists from Texas to New York created measles outbreaks in their congregations last year . The Taliban issued fatwas against vaccination, and in 2013 numerous heroic local vaccine workers were executed by jihadi assassins.As a result, polio has now come back with a vengeance, afflicting Syrian refugees, Egypt and Israel. Europe is now threatened.

Locally, warming centers operated by mainline denominations decline to promote flu vax and, according to what I was told, they won't even ALLOW onsite vaccinators. They promulgate a magnet model in which sobriety and abstinence from smoking are not requested. No surprise then that we don't see much in the way of vaccine promotion or hygiene promotion from that quarter.

So vaccine uptake rates fluctuate wildly, and various historical "wildcards" make it impossible to predict public response. Certainly in the 50's and 60's and early 70's, era of optimism would have had people cheerfully lining up for "the jab". But that collapsed in the late 70's and I am not so sure has ever recovered.

Things may have actually gotten worse as the twentieth century drew to a close. A fraudulent study came out blaming the MMR vaccine for autism and despite discrediting by the whole scientific community, belief in that study continues unabated'

The quasi-religious California "personal belief" exemption allows any parent to endanger the whole community by signing papers to exempt their kids from vaccination. You see,they want YOUR kids to get their shots, and they want THEIR kids to get a free ride. Get it?

People like that use publicly funded resources but rely on everyone else to vaccinate. That only works sometimes, If enough people take a vaccine voluntarily, we achieve "herd immunity" or what is better called "Community Immunity" or "Threshold Collective Immunity",

If not enough people in a population achieve immunity then the microbes survive long enough to evolve resistance to the vaccine. At UCSB, voluntary acceptance of the vaccine might lead to sufficient collective immunity. But first we need to make sure the vaccine is made available. The CDC could reneg. Hence, the above petition is still relevant.

On Speed Up the Vaccine Process

Posted on January 10 at 1:15 p.m.

Another piece of bad terminology or nomenclature is the way public health uses the tern "surveillance" as in "disease surveillance" or "CDC Weekly Surveillance Report".

That kind of jargon is very alienating to people in the community/ For instance, there was a meningitis outbreak in Brazil during a time when the military government was allegedly responsible for disappearances of trade unionists, students, members of the press who were presumably subjected to extrajudicial execution imprisonment or exile. The junta ordered everyone vaccinated and used the military to line people up to enforce the edict.

That sort of approach is not likely to go over well in the US. We need to build trust and understanding,In fact, an angry mob recently besieged Santa Barbara City Council to denounce the gang injunction, and one might expect that many of those same people would bristle at the notion that they are subject to "surveillance" by the CDC or anyone else,

There is growing concern with surveillance by the NSA, and stickers can be seen around town somewhat sarcastically advising people :you are under surveillance".

No one wants to be "surveilled", CDC should lead the way and review nomenclature and substitute new terms which are not so heavility loaded,

As Dr, Lete has pointed out, the terms of art can be misleading, They may do more harm than good, This is only part of what she has brought to light, but an important part,

Reference: The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett, p 64 "Disapearnance was a euphemism for death..."

Note also at p 65: "The [meningitis] bacteria [in Brazil]...could be passed...via shared towels, clothing cleaning rags or kerchiefs."

On Meningococcal Outbreak at UCSB

Posted on January 10 at 12:59 p.m.

Please join 79 others to support (a) expedited Investigational New Drug Approval for vaccination to address this outbreak, and (b) a broader IND to include (i)UCSB staff and (ii) the impoverished who live off of scraps, leftovers and dumpster diving who may come in contact with meningococcus bacteria on soda cans, beer cans, food plates and smoking apparatus.

The petition is HERE >

After citizen pressure late last year the CDC shifted its' tone on December 23rd. Previously they had hedged and minimized the likelihood of future cases. They then posted a webpage which seemed to indicate a reversal of this posture and the likelihood that they would in fact move forward with the IND rather than merely be ready to do so if and only if new facts arose.

As many parents pointed out, that was tantamount to awaiting a fifth case. Then, on Dec 25, Dr. Charity Thoman published a column in the Santa Barbara Independent which led to a vigorous online debate with Dr. Lete. The likelihood of an additional case was a point of contention in that thread and it is quite interesting case of online commentary making a real difference with decision makers

However, I have seen no one else point out that (1) there is only a 91% efficacy rate for Ciprofloxacin, and that is aside from the fact it wears off in a day or two. (2) There is no transparency with regard to the process of determination of who received the antibiotic prophylaxis.(3) Why was there no contact tracing? Given that, as Dr, Amanda Cohn and others point out, meningitis lives in asymptomatic reservoirs vastly greater than the number of people who get sick, it seems that there may be more people carrying meningococcus B than those 1200. Add to that a 9% fail rater of 108 individuals, and then calculate reinfections from these two cohorts and it is clear that meningococcus is alive and well in Isa Vista,

Given that the "Freedom Warming Center" crams homeless into unventilated small rooms with no cough etiquette, handwashing or vaccine promotion, we can expect H1N1 to circulate within coming months. Influenza is know to increase vulnerability to meningitis,

This is a formula for disaster.

Although I agree with Dr, Thoman that there is maybe a fifty fifty chance that THIS ACUTE OUTBREAK may taper, that does not preclude reactivation particularly considering that this is a disease which lives in asymptomatic carriage. For these and other reasons, the vaccine should be made available sooner rather than later and hope that the CDC is held to its' recent assurances that this will be a victory for the prevention community and the people served,

Geof Bard
Community Health Advocate
Cough Hygiene Initiative/Community Health Initiative
Alliance to Teach Everywhere About Community Health

On Speed Up the Vaccine Process

Posted on January 6 at 9:04 p.m.

The_Flu_Guru (anonymous) says...
The media completely missed th e shift in CDC tone.

Dr.Lete is the Erin Brockovitch of this story and she is right on many points. The term "investigational" should be scrapped, along with "herd immunity" and other bad nomenclature.
The petition linked at the causes website seeks theCDC IND via FDA (!) but also inclusion in the IND of UCSB staff and IV's legions of dumpster diving houseless who handle thousands of beer cans daily.

Geof Bard
The Cough Hygiene Initiative

On Meningococcal Outbreak at UCSB

Posted on January 10 at 3:40 a.m.

It is important to be mindful that when people are closely congregated during winter months, colds, the flu and other infectious diseases pose a serious concern.Action Versus Influenza urges the community to consider thoughtful efforts to instill best practices of cough hygiene among persons sharing indoor space and urge administrators and funding agencies to work with community health education projects such as the Alliance to Teach Everywhere About Community Health which also has a petition urging the administrators of the warming centers to work us which Indy readers may wish to view at

After talking to various officials including Santa Barbara Public Health Department, we feel that within the next two weeks there will be a serious uptick in flu which will problematize the warming center model. In conjunction with Health Empowerment and Love (HEAL) we have been able to harmonize public health interests with the socio-cultural realities of the unhoused with a unique program in which neighbors without homes model correct cough etiquette in exchange for very nice LED headlamps.

We are hopeful that the Unitarian Society managers of the warming center will expedite implementation of heightened infection control measures including mandatory cough etiquette, WASH protocols(water,sanitation and handwashing), graphics and partitioning or relocation of individuals exhibiting ILI (influenza-like illness). Obviously, vaccination availability should be immediate for any and all warming center patrons who are willing to take it.

The vaccine is only 60-80% effective, and we also have a small letter urging NIH funding for a better vaccine.

However, many people will refuse vaccination, which is why it is important to support integration of emergency shelter interests with community health interests. Readers may wish to join us in supporting a reconcilation process via

- Geof Bard

On Emergency Shelters Jammed

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