April 30, 2013
A media-induced panic has apparently set in across Los Angeles following the recent death of a West Hollywood lawyer due to bacterial meningitis. According to reports, both the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Los Angeles County are now busy jabbing as many local residents as possible for the condition, including low-income and uninsured residents who are among the primary targets for the “free” vaccine.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times (LAT) and others, 33-year-old Brett Shaad recently contracted bacterial meningitis after attending a “gathering of gay men in Palm Springs.” He died just a few days later, igniting a firestorm of concern that an outbreak of bacterial meningitis may be imminent. Officials in West Hollywood quickly demanded that Los Angeles County take direct action, and now thousands of local residents are lining up to get jabbed for bacterial meningitis.
Though not officially recognized as a “gay disease,” bacterial meningitis appears to be common throughout the gay community. According to San Jose Mercury News, Shaad is the second gay man to die from bacterial meningitis within the past five-or-so months, and during this same period at least 13 additional cases of the disease were reported, four of which were in gay men.
Even though there are only about 25 cases of bacterial meningitis among Los Angeles County’s roughly 10 million residents every year, the county caved to pressure from West Hollywood officials to begin distributing “free,” taxpayer-funded meningitis vaccines at clinics throughout the county. The vaccines are being specifically targeted at low-income and uninsured residents, according to reports, and many people have already taken the bait.
“You just don’t want to take that chance,” said Mark Chavez, a landscape architect and resident of West Hollywood, to LAT about his decision to get the vaccine following Shaad’s death. “Gay or straight, everyone should be aware of it,” he says.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation also reportedly distributed the bacterial meningitis vaccine for free to visitors who showed up at one of its facilities throughout the Los Angeles area on April 15. The organization is continuing to order more vaccines as people continue to request them, and plans to administer them as long as people want them.
Meningitis vaccine linked to causing Guillain-Barre syndrome, other neurological damage
But just like with most other mass vaccination campaigns, those submitting to meningitis shots throughout LA Country are likely not being informed about the serious side effects that could emerge as a result of being injected. The bacterial meningitis vaccine has been linked to causing Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) and various other forms of neurological damage.
“The immune system gets stirred up by something – an infection, an immunization, a surgical procedure or a traumatic injury,” says Dr. Robert Miller, a neurologist at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and member of the international GBS Foundation’s advisory board, about the causes of GBS.
“When you can’t transmit an impulse, the muscle won’t react,” he adds, referencing the damage caused by the GBS immune response, which inflames and degrades the myelin sheaths surrounding nerves, leading to their eventual inability to transmit impulses. “It can cause paralysis and it can be permanent.”