Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Quebec resident Ghislaine Lanctôt, who lost her medical licence in 1997 after publishing an anti-vaccination book called Medical Mafia and now goes by the name Ghis, is capitalizing on all the news about this fall's forthcoming H1N1 flu vaccine to once again air her views.
In a pamphlet called Vaccination 101 (PDF) published late last month on her website, Ghis wrote:
"The impending massive vaccination (2009) is the direct result of a pseudo-pandemic of swine flu (A-H1N1) officially declared by the UN. The long-term ploy of the global elite is to reduce the world population to 500 millions. The new vaccines contain an extremely vicious cocktail of avian, swine and human influenza viruses."Ghis garnered some attention from the conspiracy-theory website PrisonPlanet.com last month, which described her position as follows:
Lanctôt warns that the elite and their minions will introduce a compulsory vaccination that will contain a deadly virus and this will be used specifically as a eugenics weapon for “massive and targeted reduction of the world population.” Moreover, a pandemic will also be used to further establish martial law and a police state, according to Lanctôt, and activate concentration camps “built to accommodate the rebellious” and eventually transfer power from all nations to a single United Nations government and thus fulfill the sinister plans of the New World Order.Ghis's assertions are, frankly, at best insane and at worst intentionally dangerous. But they bear mentioning because they serve as a reminder of the sorts of influences acting on the public, and thereby as a reminder to physicians and government officials of the lengths to which they must go to convince the public that a flu vaccine is not just safe but may be necessary for many people in high-risk groups.
It's easy to dismiss people like Ghis as wackos ("In reality, I am omnipotent and immortal. I need no vaccines, no doctors, nor governments," she wrote) but simply dismissing your patients' concerns introduces the risk that they may be getting inaccurate and crazy advice from people like her rather than from their physicians and the people whom they should rely on to protect their health.
Ghis and her tinfoil-hat-wearing pals should serve as a wake-up call for this fall's flu vaccination program. The lesson? Many people are exposed to this kind of anti-vaccination rhetoric. It is doctors' responsibility to educate patients about the real risks and benefits of vaccination and to encourage them not to be persuaded by eccentric quacks online.
Readers of Canadian Medicine may recall Ghis (right) from a short entry in 2008. At the time, she was jailed for a few months when she refused to respond to a Quebec court that was investigating her refusal to pay taxes.
Well, we can now give you an update: her case was heard this past January. Her defense strategy consisted of telling the judge that the person named Ghislaine Lanctôt was dead and providing a Declaration of Individual Sovereignty. Unfortunately for her, the judge wasn't buying any of that. She was found guilty and assessed a $1,000 fine, which it sounds like she is planning on ignoring. The legal saga continues.
Like I said: nobody could make this stuff up.