Flu vaccination
by Dr Mendelsohn MD

Even though it is almost now winter and these shots are to be given before the flu season begins, plenty of people still are under pressure to be vaccinated against influenza and against pneumonia. That pressure to immunize emanates from at least three sources——one’s own doctor, public health doctors, vaccine manufacturers and their public relations firms.

This triad (triumvirate? troika?) will, of course, try its best to frighten people about the dangers of the diseases. Just take a look at the very name of last year’s flu——Taiwan flu. Haven’t you ever wondered why doctors name flu strains after Asiatic countries? Do you remember the Hong Kong flu? The Singapore flu? The Bangkok flu? The Asian flu? The Russian flu, etc.?

Did you note that, when a strain finally originated in the U.S., doctors didn’t call it the New Jersey flu? Instead, they named it after an animal that has a thick, bristly skin and a long, mobile snout——swine flu.

When the scare campaign heads in your direction, don’t panic. Instead, keep in mind the fact that the doctor’s treatment may be even more dangerous than the disease. Before your doctor fills the syringe, ask him to hand you the prescribing information for the vaccine. When you carefully read the four columns describing Merck Sharp & Dohme’s pneumococcal vaccine, Pneumo— vax, you will learn that, while this vaccine is particularly recommended for older folks who are more likely to be ill, the manufacturer warns that caution should be exercised in giving Pneumovax to individuals "with severely compromised cardiac and/or pulmon_ary function in whom a systemic reaction wpuld pose a significant risk." Thus, the very people for whom the vaccine is recommended may be the same ones for whom it is the most dangerous!

You also will learn that, in addition to the more common reactions—— soreness, redness, fever——neurologic disorders including Guillain—Barre paralysis have been associated with the penumococcal vaccine.

After you have read the small print on thc pneumococcal vaccine, read the small print on Fluzone, Squibb—Connaught’s influenza virus vaccine. Under the section on warnings, you will learn that this vaccine interacts with anticoagulants, theophylline and anti—convulsants. You will learn that if jet injection is used, special precautions must be taken during sterilization to. prevent the transmission of.hepatitis or other infectious agents. You will learn that neurologic disorders such as encephalopathy (brain damage) have been linked to this vaccine. These reactions can begin as soon as a few hours and as late as two weeks after vaccination. You also will learn that, when the doctor or his nurse brings in the tray for your injection, the tray should be carrying two syringes—the second containing adrenalin, in case you go into shock from the vaccine.

Writing for Scripps—Howard News Service, Dr. William Proschauer reports (November 5, 1986) that healthy people under age 65 should not take the flu vaccine because "the risk of suffering serious complications from the vaccine is far greater than that of having serious effects from the flu."

Maybe after you read all this information, you will lean toward rejecting the vaccine. If you still need a clinching argument to help you make up your mind, ask your doctor if he himself has taken those shots.