When doctors join in on the fear mongering.
I’ve been wanting to get an H1N1 Flu Vaccine for a while now. I believe that by getting the vaccine, I’ll not only protect myself from getting the Swine Flu, but I’ll prevent myself from becoming a carrier that can infect other people. In other words: I’ll do my part to help protect my fellow citizens and possibly prevent deaths.
When I heard the vaccine was available in town, I started making calls to see where I could get a shot. The Safeway Supermarket pharmacy ran out of doses yesterday. They suggested that I call my doctor. I did. And that’s when I got a shock.
A receptionist answered the phone. When I asked about the H1N1 Vaccine, she told me the doctor wasn’t giving shots. When I asked why, she replied:
The doctor heard that there were serious neurological side effects to the vaccine. She doesn’t think it’s safe.
I asked the girl for details and she had none. I asked her to have the doctor call me. I hung up and went to Twitter. My query there brought links to two reliable sources of information about the vaccine:
- @aprilmains replied first with a link to “Canada, U.S. spark ethical debate with different approaches” on The Globe and Mail Web site. (April is Canadian and just got her shots today.)
- @gglockner quickly followed up with “General Questions and Answers on 2009 H1N1 Infuenza Vaccine Safety” on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Web site.
I read the information on both pages. Neither discussed any likely serious side effects. The CDC piece did mention the usual flu vaccine side effects but said the H1N1 vaccine was no more likely than any other flu vaccine to result in those side effects. It also mentioned Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which was apparently an issue back in 1976. The article said that studies had been done and that the risk of GBS was 1 additional person out of 1 million.
Let me repeat that: 1 person in 1 million.
Is this the kind of risk that worried my doctor?
The phone rang. It was the receptionist at the doctor’s office. She told me that the doctor had read about the risks online, but she couldn’t remember where. (Fox News? I wondered.) She’d also heard about it from patients. (Now patients are advising doctors?) And she’d also heard it from a few doctors.
In other words, it was hearsay from vague, unidentified, and mostly unqualified sources.
I told her what I’d learned from the CDC. She wasn’t interested. She wanted to argue with me. Evidently, the doctor’s sources were more valid than the Centers for Disease Control of one of the most advanced nations on the face of the earth. She wouldn’t listen to reason, she wouldn’t give me a chance to speak.
So I hung up on her. Why should I waste my time listening to a raving idiot?
I’ll be looking for a new doctor. Again.
And I’ll keep looking for my vaccination.
You want more information from the CDC? Start here.
You want some satire on the whole vaccine idiocy? Check out this on the Onion.