We live in uncertain times. Since 9/11, the country has been thrown into a great sense of insecurity and fear. When we are faced with fear individually or collectively - it tends to bring out a variety of responses. We can get frozen in the headlights of fear and feel paralyzed to act.

This often happens immediately when faced with overwhelming fear, like an earthquake, a terrible accident, or an event like the tragedy on 9/11. Once we have dealt with the immediate fear, we tend to either want to avoid the fear, pushing it into a corner of our minds and out of our reality, or we want to react by fighting the thing we are scared of, the classic "fight or flight" syndrome. As more time goes by, we are faced with more complex choices of how we deal with the consequences of such fear.

In order to heal from any trauma, we have to be willing to face the fear, and be able to integrate the fear into our reality. From that, we may be in a more clear position to know how to react to it. However, if the fear itself is continually revisited or is distorted in some ways, we never leave its influence, which can make it difficult to know how to respond appropriately.

The potential threat of bio-warfare is a huge issue we are now dealing with. So much has been written about it recently and reported on the media that the country is now in a state of fear of an apparently imminent attack. The question is, how much risk really is there?

The government seems to think that there is enough risk to justify vaccinating half a million people against smallpox. It is recommending that all people who would be in the front line against any bio-warfare attack be vaccinated. Already, huge resources have been given over to producing a new vaccine, the government also buying or being donated remaining stocks of the vaccine. I have already written about the history of smallpox and the use of the vaccine, which began in 1852 in England. It was always controversial as it caused many thousands of people to actually get the disease, as it is a live virus. Although government and media sources have admitted that "side effects" do occur, and are also looking into giving diluted vaccines, no specific details have been given. However, when you look into the history of the vaccine program, it has to make you wonder whether we are going to do more harm than good. In many instances, the outbreak of smallpox actually grew after the vaccine was introduced. We are now contemplating reintroducing a vaccine and a live virus that has been absent in the world for 40 odd years, based on the threat of smallpox being used as a weapon.

The question has to be asked, where is the actual evidence that Saddam Hussein or Al Queda have stocks of smallpox waiting to be used against us? If it is true, we havent yet seen it. Even if we know that he has some stocks, how is he going to use it against us? Is it really worth us risking the health and lives of many people by introducing the vaccine again without pretty serious evidence that we are at risk? In other words, are over reacting and actually doing the work for the terrorists. If we continue to live in such fear, isnt that part of their intention.

On another vaccine note, it was reported on NPR today that many people in the armed services are leaving the military because of the anthrax vaccine, which has been creating many more health complications than the manufacturers have stated. This has been a controversial issue for years now, with some people connecting the vaccine to Gulf War Syndrome. Again, the same question can be asked. Is the risk of the vaccine worse than that of the disease? We know that anthrax cannot be spread over wide distances, so any attack would be very localized. Is it worth therefore to vaccinate one million soldiers for this?

Finally, here we are in flu season again, and another vaccine is waiting. As I mentioned last year, one of the worlds leading immunogeneticists, Hugh Fudenbergy MD, has stated that if an individual has had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied), his/her chances of getting Alzheimers Disease is ten times higher than if they had one, two or no shots. He attributed this to the amount of Mercury and Aluminum that is found in flu shots, and most other vaccines.

This is all very sobering news, and should make us question our individual decisions and also our government policies that may affect our health in such profound ways. We have to make decisions based on the facts of the risk involved by doing something or not doing something. If we are mainly acting from fear and from a lack of information, we can do much more harm than good.