The Doctors Next Door

I've Got a Complaint

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Yeah, I've got a complaint. The only thing worse than having a complaint is having no one to listen to the complaint. Boy, am I glad we have this blog now because at least I know you are listening.

I don't complain much. In general, I'm a roll-with-the-flow, easy going kind of person. (Dr. Carrie knows me well and I'm 100% positive she would agree with that self-assessment.)

But, I am going to complain now and here's my complaint:

People who don't know about H1N1 should stop talking about it! In other words, stop spreading myth & misinformation!

The misinformation about H1N1 seems to spread faster than the actual virus. I'm going to give you some specific examples that have led to my complaint, but first, let's give a round of applause to the CDC, other public health organizations and the vaccine manufacturers.

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They have done an absolutely top notch job with the whole H1N1 issue. If you recall, the virus first appeared on the US scene last April. In a mere 6 months, they've done all the epidemiology, all the virology, all the public health planning, and they've got a vaccine out to the public. Within only 6 months! Impressive and well done. 

In addition, the CDC's website and www.flu.gov is full of factual information about everything you ever wanted to know about H1N1. Now, there's a legitimate source of information, unlike the 10 minutes of TV that I heard on Wednesday night.

I just happened to catch Sean Hannity on Fox News. He and his three guests were discussing a variety of topics, one of which just happened to be the H1N1 vaccine. None of them were physicians or epidemiologists or scientists of any sort. While I hate to specifically pick on these four folks - they all seem like such nice people - they don't have a lick of medical training and there they are, giving their opinion on the H1N1 vaccine. Yes, yes, freedom of speech, I'm all for it, but I'm also for the dispensing of accurate medical information.

While some of the comments were indeed factually correct, they were not presented in a medically balanced manner with the appropriate explanations. Other comments were simply opinions, to which everyone is entitled. However, those opinions only perpetuate the myth, increase uncertainty, and play on the fear of the viewers. 

Here's an example. One guest said, "I know many people who have gone to the doctor and they say 'I really don't know what you have' so they're not sure of what it is. And until they can figure that out, I wouldn't put my child's life at risk like that" by giving them the vaccine. Now, in a different context, that sentence may be valid. But, applied to the H1N1 situation, sentences like this only increase the public's apprehension. 

Let's examine that sentence. There's actually nothing unusual about a doctor saying "I really don't know what you have." First of all, the context in which it was said isn't clear, but let's assume the doctor is referring to whether or not the patient has H1N1 or the seasonal flu. It actually doesn't matter which one it is. They are both influenza viruses and they are both treated the same. If you get a flat tire from a screw (I know it's usually a nail, but then my analogy wouldn't work), does it matter if it's a standard head or a Phillips head? It's still a screw and your tire still needs to be patched. Same concept.

Another comment that really got me fired up was that "children also get shots and die." I can tell you right now, without even having to look up the numbers, that more children have died this year from H1N1 than from vaccinations. Can you see how a comment like this can cause problems? This isn't a responsible way to discuss the H1N1 vaccine

One of the other comments was that "even Dr. Oz said he wouldn't vaccinate his kids." Well

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then, that settles it! If Dr. Oz isn't vaccinating his kids against H1N1, then I'm not either! Oh, come on! Pul-leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease! Who's Dr. Oz??? (Oh, I'm not serious. I know I live a sheltered life, but I do know who he is.) This is nothing against Dr. Oz personally and he looks like a very nice and smart doctor, but I'm going with the opinions of those nameless and faceless experts at the CDC.

They say to vaccinate our kids.

My point is: listen to the right people about this. Don't believe everything you hear on the TV or radio or from your friends or neighbors about this. Go to reliable sources such as these:

General Questions and Answers on 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Safety

Questions & Answers: 2009 H1N1 Nasal Spray Vaccine

Key Facts About 2009 H1N1 Flu Vaccine

Flu Myths and Realities

My earlier post about whether pregnant women should get the vaccine (YES, they should!)

Dr. Carrie's post from yesterday about vaccinating children

Another one of Dr. Carrie's post on vaccinating her son 


Just a suggestion...maybe TV and radio talk show hosts could make a point of having a physician on the show when discussing major public health concerns like this...

 

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4 Comments

Noelle said:

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Well said! I have really appreciated what you and Dr. Carrie have had to say on both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccinations. Thank you for helping me make an informed decision.

Dr. Brenda said:

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Noelle,

You are most welcome. Thanks for reading!

Hope you and your family stay healthy this season,

Dr. Brenda

Ed Marston said:

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I have a complaint, too. According to the CDC's website, "Each year, in the United States, on average 36,000 people die from flu-related complications and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related causes." This was the non-answer to the question posed there, "How does 2009 H1N1 flu compare to seasonal flu in terms of its severity and infection rates?" So, I would like to pose that question to you, Dr. Brenda. Are more people likely to die of H1N1 that other seasonal flus? This question is rarely raised and never answered. What are the reasons for scareing everyone. It looks a lot like other false alarms we have had to endure over the years. When the boy cries wolf enough times, ....well, you know the story.

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