I try to be a reasonably reasonable kind of person. I like to know the why, not just the what. I rarely take anything for granted. And then, sometimes, I’m just a quack with a persistent bee in my bonnet (if you’ll forgive the mangled metaphor). For years I have scoffed at those who get the flu shot. And I’ve raved and ranted against them, too. The flu vaccine is useless at best, I’ve always said. And probably worse than that. (I’m also not a fan of Gardasil, which in my mind is way worse than useless at best.)
Now it turns out doctors are starting to catch up with my anti-flu-shot quackery:
A “perplexing” Canadian study linking H1N1 to seasonal flu shots is throwing national influenza plans into disarray and testing public faith in the government agencies responsible for protecting the nation’s health.
Distributed for peer review last week, the study confounded infectious-disease experts in suggesting that people vaccinated against seasonal flu are twice as likely to catch swine flu.
The paper is under peer review, and lead researchers Danuta Skowronski of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Gaston De Serres of Laval University must stay mum until it’s published.
Met with intense early skepticism both in Canada and abroad, the paper has since convinced several provincial health agencies to announce hasty suspensions of seasonal flu vaccinations, long-held fixtures of public-health planning.
“It has confused things very badly,” said Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. “And it has certainly cost us credibility from the public because of conflicting recommendations. Until last week, there had always been much encouragement to get the seasonal flu vaccine.”
Not only that: I was at a social gathering lately and was chastised by more than one guest (including one who is a nurse) not to shake hands and kiss friends (I’m French; the kiss-on-both-cheeks thing is something I do without thinking). There are messages on the radio reminding me to sneeze in my arm, etc. And I just want to scream. I’m healthy and not completely stupid. I know how to deal with the flu (stay home and sip chicken-noodle soup). It’s actually quite simple, and the more “experts” try to meddle with how normal people deal with normal health questions, the more they mess things up.by