- In what is being seen as the first of many such actions
to come, nine individuals have filed formal charges claiming that the H1N1
campaign is a deliberate attempt to poison the French population.
- These charges, which were filed yesterday, could not
come at a more inopportune moment for the government and health specialists.
The vaccination campaign got underway last Tuesday in a climate of national
skepticism as to the vaccine's safety and efficiency, and this news will
surely boost the morale of the increasing number of anti-vaccine lobbyists
who are beginning to organize their resistance to any attempt to vaccinate
the population against H1N1.
- Nine inhabitants of the Isére region of France
are cited as joint plaintiffs in the case, including a health sector worker,
a teacher and a radio talk show host. They met each other at various public
meetings held to denounce the vaccine's alleged health risks.
- The charges take the form of a 'plainte contre X' which
means that the perpetrator of an alleged crime or felony is not known,
or is not named, in the charge sheet. This is a commonly used manner of
filing complaints in France, particularly where the charges relate to supposed
government implication in alleged breaches of the law. In cases where those
trials proceed after prior examination of the facts, the specific persons
or organizations concerned are designated and charged as the trial proceeds.
- Jean-Pierre Joseph, the plaintiffs' lawyer, describes
the vaccination campaign as "A veritable attempt to poison."
He confirmed that the charges were filed at the High Court in Grenoble
before the court's senior examining magistrate. He said other court cases
involving other plaintiffs would begin soon
- The various charges filed included one of "Attempting
to administer substancesof a nature which could result in death."
- "The aim is to put a stop to what we consider to
be an act of poisoning," according to Joseph. "The interest of
this action is that people in France now have a means by which to express
their concern as citizens by saying publicly "We are aware that the
vaccination campaign is a swindle."
- Similar court actions are planned in other areas of the
Isére, as well as in Paris, Pau and Nantes, and several hundred
vaccine opponents are beginning to organize themselves on the internet
with a view to filing class action charges.
- The government and health authorities are currently battling
to persuade people to get vaccinated against increasingly difficult odds.
Opposition to the campaign has been increasing steadily, and various polls
taken over the last few days put the figure for those who do not intend
to get vaccinated as high as 70 percent.
- Their task is being made even more arduous by the fact
that while authorities believe on the one hand that vaccination is essential
despite negative public reaction, the French have traditionally proved
to be very quick to condemn and file charges in cases where not enough
was said to be done to prevent other medical mishaps such as the Mad Cow
outbreak and an AIDS contamination case, in which several people died and
many more became HIV positive after receiving AIDS-contaminated blood transfusions
- That signifies that the authorities have very little
room to maneuver and are more or less obliged to continue the campaign
in order to avoid similar charges should they decide or be forced to abandon
the campaign and high numbers of people die as a result of not being vaccinated.