Are swine flu shots actually dangerous?
About 30 years ago a decision was made to undertake a massive swine flu inoculation program in the United States. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but two things happened to throw mass vaccination programs into a bad light. For one thing, the anticipated swine flu pandemic never arose.
The other problem - which proved to be far more serious - was that (it appears) contaminated vaccine triggered a severe neurological problem in several hundred people who got the shot. This side effect was rare - about 1 case in every 100,000 inoculations. But because the pandemic never got started, there was no benefit to having taken the vaccine, so the side effects completely dominated column space in the newspapers of the day. The 1976 swine flu vaccine got a LOT of bad press.
To this day you cannot mention the topic of "swine flu vaccine" on the web without people jumping in with all sorts of conspiracy theories relating to vaccine companies and their intent to blanket the world with unsafe swine flu shots that will cause far more misery than good.
In Survive Pandemic Flu, Stephen Carter does a little risk management and shows us that if we assume the swine flu virus remains mild, and causes no more than 3 deaths in every 10,000 infections, and if the risk of a vaccine side effect today is as high as it was 30 years ago (unlikely), then the likelihood of dying from a swine flu infection is still about 10 times greater than dying from a side effect due to a bad vaccine.
I was surprised that the number is only 10, but this is a worse-case scenario, and if today's vaccines are actually safer than the contaminated 1976 vaccines, then the number might be as much as 100. Then there is the possibility of a more deadly strain of swine flu arising. If that happens, the number swells again.
If you want the full details, check out Survive Pandemic Flu. It is the only place I have seen a realistic assessment of this kind of risk: