Prepared Citizens

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  • Previous Posts

  • Michael Osterholm Quotes:

    “What we need to be doing now is the basic planning of how we get our communities through 12 to 18 months of a pandemic.”

    “Ninety-five out of 100 will live. But with the nation in crisis, will we have food and water? Are we going to have police and security? Will people come to work at all?”

    “It's the perfect setup. Then you put air travel in and it could be around the world overnight.”

    “We can predict now 12 to 18 months of stress of watching loved ones die, of wondering if you are going to have food on the table the next day. Those are all things that are going to mean that we are going to have to plan -- unlike any other crisis that we have had in literally the last 80-some years in this country.”

  • US Health and Human Services

    Secretary Michael Leavitt

    "If there is one message on pandemic preparedness that I could leave today that you would remember, it would be this:

    Any community that fails to prepare with the expectation that the federal government or for that matter the state government will be able to step forward and come to their rescue at the final hour will be tragically wrong,

    not because government will lack a will, not because we lack a collective wallet, but because there is no way that you can respond to every hometown in America at the same time."
  • Joseph C. Napoli, MD of Resiliency LLC

    "I think a new meaning is evolving for resiliency and resilience.

    In some contexts the words are being used to mean the strength to resist being impacted by an adverse event rather than either the “capacity to rebound” or “act of rebounding” from adversity.

    Therefore, resiliency and resilience appear to be assuming the meaning of fortitude, that is, “the strength or firmness of mind that enables a person to encounter danger with coolness and courage or to bear pain or adversity without despondency” as defined in the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

    If so, we are coming full circle with science accepting a religious moral virtue – fortitude – as written in the Bible’s Book of Wisdom"

  • Faith Based Resources

    John Piper
    Jonathan Edwards
    Pink-Saving Faith
    Pink-Christian Ethics

    "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves"
    (2 Corinthians 13:5).

    Why Faith Groups Must Care

    When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper


    Be Not Afraid
    Overcoming the fear of Death
    by Johann Christoph Arnold

    While I am not a professional journalist, I do embrace the code of ethics put forth by the Society of Professional Journalists and the statement of purpose by the Association of Health Care Journalists and above all else I strive to "do no harm".

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  • Definitions

    from Wikipedia

    Pandemic Influenza

    An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of the influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the human population.

    In contrast to the regular seasonal epidemics of influenza, these pandemics occur irregularly, with the 1918 Spanish flu the most serious pandemic in recent history.

    Pandemics can cause high levels of mortality, with the Spanish influenza being responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people.

    There have been about 3 influenza pandemics in each century for the last 300 years. The most recent ones were the Asian Flu in 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu in 1968.

    Seasonal Influenza

    Flu season is the portion of the year in which there is a regular outbreak in flu cases.

    It occurs during the cold half of the year in each hemisphere.

    Flu activity can sometimes be predicted and even tracked geographically. While the beginning of major flu activity in each season varies by location, in any specific location these minor epidemics usually take about 3 weeks to peak and another 3 weeks to significantly diminish.

    Individual cases of the flu however, usually only last a few days. In some countries such as Japan and China, infected persons sometimes wear a surgical mask out of respect for others.

    Avian (Bird) Flu
    Avian influenza,

    sometimes Avian flu, and commonly Bird flu refers to "influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds."

    "Bird flu" is a phrase similar to "Swine flu", "Dog flu", "Horse flu", or "Human flu" in that it refers to an illness caused by any of many different strains of influenza viruses that have adapted to a specific host.

    All known viruses that cause influenza in birds belong to the species: Influenza A virus.

    All subtypes (but not all strains of all subtypes) of Influenza A virus are adapted to birds, which is why for many purposes avian flu virus is the Influenza A virus (note that the "A" does not stand for "avian").
    Adaptation is non-exclusive.

    Being adapted towards a particular species does not preclude adaptations, or partial adaptations, towards infecting different species.

    In this way strains of influenza viruses are adapted to multiple species, though may be preferential towards a particular host.

    For example, viruses responsible for influenza pandemics are adapted to both humans and birds.

    Recent influenza research into the genes of the Spanish Flu virus shows it to have genes adapted to both birds and humans; with more of its genes from birds than less deadly later pandemic strains.

    H5N1 Strain

    Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as A(H5N1) or simply H5N1, is a subtype of the Influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species.

    A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1", is the causative agent of H5N1 flu, commonly known as "avian influenza" or "bird flu".

    It is enzootic in many bird populations, especially in Southeast Asia. One strain of HPAI A(H5N1) is spreading globally after first appearing in Asia.

    It is epizootic (an epidemic in nonhumans) and panzootic (affecting animals of many species, especially over a wide area), killing tens of millions of birds and spurring the culling of hundreds of millions of others to stem its spread.

    Most references to "bird flu" and H5N1 in the popular media refer to this strain.

    As of the July 25, 2008 FAO Avian Influenza Disease Emergency Situation Update, H5N1 pathogenicity is continuing to gradually rise in wild birds in endemic areas but the avian influenza disease situation in farmed birds is being held in check by vaccination.

    Eleven outbreaks of H5N1 were reported worldwide in June 2008 in five countries (China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam) compared to 65 outbreaks in June 2006 and 55 in June 2007.

    The "global HPAI situation can be said to have improved markedly in the first half of 2008 [but] cases of HPAI are still underestimated and underreported in many countries because of limitations in country disease surveillance systems".

    Pandemic Severity Index

    The Pandemic Severity Index (PSI) is a proposed classification scale for reporting the severity of influenza pandemics in the United States.

    The PSI was accompanied by a set of guidelines intended to help communicate appropriate actions for communities to follow in potential pandemic situations. [1]

    Released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on February 1, 2007, the PSI was designed to resemble the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

    From the Massachusetts Health and Human Services


    refers to separating people who are ill from other people to prevent the spread of a communicable disease.


    refers to separating and restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a communicable disease and are not yet ill.
  • Additional Information

    Creative Commons License
    Prepared Citizens by Catherine "Jackie" Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
    Based on a work at

    The posts on this site are subject to change. Mostly due to errors in spelling or grammar. I never said I am a professional journalist. I have new appreciation for the job that they do. Also, not all comments made by others will make it onto this site. Comments that advertise a commercial product do not get posted most of the time.

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  • standingfirm

The Brave New World of Vaccine Technology

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 27, 2008

Are we elevating science and technology as the next savior of mankind? Perhaps this is a question that is asked each time a new technology is introduced. Newness sometimes does inspire myth. Newness is uncomfortable because we either lack understanding or are not sure of all of the ramifications. There are unknowns. We should always be cautious even when the results appear to be overwhelmingly positive. And as laymen we cannot stop trying to understand new technologies.

How best to introduce a new practically untested technology? During a crisis. We have always been aware of the strides and advances that are made when our feet are held to the fire. “Necessity is the mother of invention”. But in this case necessity may lead to the acceptance of invention which is too new and too unknown. The initial attraction and the overwhelming need may drive our acceptance.

We have not yet perfected adjuvants and now recombinant DNA technology is being utilized to create our vaccines.

As I have said many times throughout this blog, I vaccinated my children when possible and safe. I take flu shots and recommend them to my own family members. I have had numerous pneumonia shots and so has my husband, I am not anti-vaccine per se. Nor am I anti-technology. I am just cautious when we, en masse, look to the next “great hope” and I am concerned about how we elevate science and technology to almost godlike status.

Recombinant DNA Technology


From Shering-Plough

Here is how recombinant technology works

Recombinant technology begins with the isolation of a gene of interest. The gene is then inserted into a vector and cloned. A vector is a piece of DNA that is capable of independent growth; commonly used vectors are bacterial plasmids and viral phages. The gene of interest (foreign DNA) is integrated into the plasmid or phage, and this is referred to as recombinant DNA.

Before introducing the vector containing the foreign DNA into host cells to express the protein, it must be cloned. Cloning is necessary to produce numerous copies of the DNA since the initial supply is inadequate to insert into host cells.

Once the vector is isolated in large quantities, it can be introduced into the desired host cells such as mammalian, yeast, or special bacterial cells. The host cells will then synthesize the foreign protein from the recombinant DNA. When the cells are grown in vast quantities, the foreign or recombinant protein can be isolated and purified in large amounts.


The different types of vaccines available today are. In most cases adjuvants are used to boost the immune system response even further. As an aside, this is a stretch for me to understand let alone explain to others. Caveat lector.

  • Live Vaccines also called Live Attenuated Vaccines – These contain viruses or bacteria that have been altered so that they cannot cause disease. These vaccines are created from the naturally occurring virus or bacteria itself. These vaccines can still infect people, but they are weakened (attenuated) so that they do not cause serious disease. Examples of live attenuated vaccines are MMR vaccine (covering Measles, Mumps and Rubella), OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine), and Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine and Yellow Fever Vaccine. In tuberculosis vaccine, another example, a related but not contagious strain, “BCG”, is used. The advantage with live virus vaccines is that actual infection takes place and two types of immune response are stimulated and immunity lasts many years. 
  • Inactivated virus vaccines – These vaccines contained killed bacteria or inactivated viruses. They stimulate an immune response and antibodies are produced. The viruses themselves are inactivated with chemicals such as formaldehyde. Formalin is difficult to remove and may carry some residual toxicity. Betapropiolactone has been used to inactivate viruses and is rendered nontoxic. Examples of Inactivated Vaccines are IPV (an inactivated polio vaccine given by injection and Influenza Vaccine. Vaccines for Cholera and bubonic plague are also examples of inactivated vaccine.
  • Toxoid Vaccines – These contain toxins that have been rendered harmless by using heat or chemicals in order to render them harmless. By injecting them our bodies immune response is stimulated and immunity results. An examples of a toxoid vaccine is the DTP
  • Component Vaccines – These contain parts of the whole bacteria or viruses. These vaccines cannot cause disease and they work by stimulating the bodies own immune response. Examples of these are Hib Vaccine, Hepatitis A an B Vaccine, and Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine. Gardasil (guarding against HPV) is an example of this type of vaccine.

Examples of new vaccines in development.

DNA Vaccines – Because the body recognizes what we inject as foreign substances, it attacks in order to destroy and without further injections the immune system completes its mission and returns to normal. Some vaccines need booster shots because of this reason, (or because the viruses themselves change or drift as in seasonal influenza – so we need a yearly or sometimes twice a season immunization). DNA vaccines contain the genetic code for the proteins that cells make. Injections of this type of vaccine allows for cells to take up the DNA which allows the cells to keep making more antigens. These altered cells could theoretically make antigen indefinitely. Subunit vaccines which utilize a cells surface proteins of a pathogenic virus which are prepared by purification or recombinant DNA cloning. They lack infectivity which make them attractive when the viruses which they are protecting against are extremely virulent or when they cannot be easily grown. These vaccines are able to be produced very rapidly.

  • Recombinant Virus and Subunit Vaccines use the process of genetic recombination to inject the genes for proteins into the genome of another virus. Bacteria or yeast are utilized to produce large quantities through DNA cloning of a single viral or bacterial protein. This protein is the injected into the body and the immune response produces more antibodies. The genes introduced could replace genes not required for replication of the carrier virus or it could be added to the viral genome. The carrier virus replicates and a robust and varied immune response results. No adjuvants are necessary and the proteins themselves will not cause illness. The question remains whether tweaking immune responses in this way may not be playing with fire. For example, using carrier viruses in this way may limit their use with other more time tested technologies and also a second example of a possible drawback is having limited knowledge of immune response in general. Are we certain of what we do not know. The use of carrier viruses may in and of themselves produce an immune response. If we have overutilized them we may render useless our other technologies.
  • Anti-idiotype Antibodies – A cancer vaccine made of antibodies that see other antibodies as the antigen and bind to it. An antibody to an idiotype of another antibody will look like an antigen that triggered the cells to make the first antibody (an anti-idiotype). This stimulates the immune system responses and the body attacks both the anti-idiotype and the antigen.  Researchers are hopeful that this type of vaccine will be successful in treating lymphomas especially and other types of cancer. Adjuvants are used to boost the immune system response even further.

We are being asked to have faith in science and technology to solve these great issues and terrible problems of the day. Science and technology has been very useful to us over the years. I have taken part and benefited in and from these advances.

It sometimes takes years for us to realize the effects of the science and technology that we use every day. Cell phones, plastics, chemicals, adjuvants, even computers…these fast and furious changes are not being studied over time to demonstrate to us consumers the safety of these products that we use every single day. Computer use is said to be altering our brains, cell phone use to increase the frequency of brain tumors, adjuvants in vaccines may have an impact on autism and learning disabilities.

I have been asked to  trust in the ability of our scientists and researchers, our physicians, and other professionals. Time and time again my trust is shaken. The older that I get the more I realize that I should not be blindly trusting in such things.

I simply urge extreme caution on the eve of a pandemic when people will want to grasp at any straw in order to save their life or the life of their child.

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