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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Oct. 13-Oct. 19

This week, readers sent us comments on the flu vaccine, fabricated Limbaugh quotes and FactCheck fact-checking. In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive.

Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Flu Rumors

Thank you, thank you for the article dispelling all those crazy notions about H1N1 vaccine ["Inoculation Misinformation," Oct. 19]! Now I’ll have a great, comprehensive reference to give to my patients who express doubts about getting the shot. Not long ago I had a patient who refused the seasonal flu shot because his mother died after getting it. It turned out she was 90, and the flu shot in question was administered 2 years before her death!

Janis Eiler, MD
Cincinnati, Ohio

I, for one belong to those "wacky" people who will not be vaccinated and never was, nor my kids nor my grandkids. We have serious informations on the negative effects of vaccination and I traveled around the world and refuse to believe what your, so called authorities, which for the most part are backed up by the pharmaceutical companies.

Denise Mayer
Quebec, Canada

What are the facts about the danger of a person receiving the nasal spray form of the swine flu vaccine then "shedding" the virus and possibly infecting others, especially the young, elderly or immune compromised?

Also, does having a "reaction" to the vaccine, as described by the CDC, of sore throat, fever, etc, mean that you have a mild case of the flu and could be contagious?

Sarah Malarkey
Portland, Ore.

FactCheck.org responds: The CDC reports: "The current estimated risk of getting infected with vaccine virus after close contact with a person vaccinated with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is low (0.6%-2.4%)." The CDC does recommend getting the shot instead of the spray if you will be in contact with severely immunocompromised people within the week. The attenuated viruses in the vaccine aren’t strong enough to infect your lungs, so the vaccine can’t actually give you flu. Fever is not usually a side effect of the vaccine.


Ragging On Rush

I would love it if you would look into whether the many recent quotes from people about what they say Rush Limbaugh said in the past are accurate. He says they are not and I’ve got to believe that his comments are well documented and that audio is even available. I’m so glad you’re around because the truth really does matter. Even on cases like this which involve private citizens (vs. politicians). After all we’re all private citizens – shouldn’t we make our decisions and opinions based on true facts?

Jennifer Zylko
Uniontown, Ohio

FactCheck.org responds: Rush Limbaugh, shall we say, does not have the most subtle approach to racial issues. But the quote being bandied about where he says that slavery "had its merits" is by all appearances fabricated, lifted from an unsupported Wikiquote citation. There’s no evidence that he really said such a thing. CNN’s Rick Sanchez, who used the quote, issued a retraction, saying that he "should not have reported it."


Care Vs. Coverage

In reference to "Obama’s Health Care Speech" [Sept. 10], you said Obama was correct when he said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants and that the House bill expressly forbids giving subsidies to those in this country illegally. As I understand the Constitution, anybody in this country is provided rights under the Constitution whether they are legal or illegal and a hospital emergency room can not turn them away by law. Now this wouldn’t "insure" those illegal immigrants, but they could get medical services at the taxpayer’s expense. So haven’t you "clouded" the subject by not being clear about having "insured" illegals, although they still get medical services at cost to the American taxpayer? Are we being sneaky by the words we are using when the illegal still get the health services at taxpayer expense? Obama is a constitutional lawyer and should know this.

Bob Bryan
McCormick, S.C.

FactCheck.org responds: Getting emergency care is not the same as getting insurance. As you point out, uninsured people of all citizenships can get emergency care under current law — that’s not an effect of proposed health care legislation. The legislation would not change that, but it would also not provide undocumented immigrants with taxpayer-funded subsidies with which to purchase insurance. We answered a similar question in our Sept. 9-Sept.14 Mailbag.


Waste Not, Want Not

I’m no economist but it seems like old fashioned common sense that if we are going to expand coverage, our national health care costs will rise accordingly. UNLESS we incorporate into any bill cost and waste cutting measures in all areas of the health care industry – insurance, pharmaceuticals, tort reform, record-keeping etc. Republicans scream about costs and deficits, but refuse any cost cutting in the corporate plutocracy.

M-L Reifschneider
Raleigh, N.C.


Quid Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

This may sound funny to you but does your fact-checking get checked as well? I feel I have to check just about everything I hear or see on the Internet, news, e-mails, and even just normal conversations. There is so much, I mean, so much misinformation out here that it’s almost impossible to know what is really true. I trusted "the system" since I went into the Air Force in 1968 until just a short time ago. I feel let down and just want the truth.

Joe Wentz
North Port, Fla.

FactCheck.org responds: All of our articles are fact-checked before being published. That doesn’t mean we’ve never gotten something wrong and made a correction or update, but we check what we write. If you want more cross-checking, you can look at our articles next to the work of other fact-checking groups like Politifact — you’ll find we generally agree.