Flu shot helps more than recipient

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? There is no question.

Immunizations save lives. Period. The smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease completely. Hundreds of thousands of people died because of smallpox outbreaks and now no one needs to be vaccinated against it anymore.

Similarly, I don’t think anyone could dispute the importance of childhood vaccination programs that have almost eradicated diseases like polio, that would have otherwise caused death or paralysis. The same could be said for measles, mumps, and whooping cough vaccinations, among others.

Sadly, fake science and fake news have left an opening for a movement of individuals to decry vaccinations as an evil causing any number of atrocities.

Some parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children, perhaps after consulting non-evidence based websites or reading tripe like that produced by Dr. Gifford Jones as of late.

Because of this, cases of many of these preventable diseases are on the rise.

I’m truly appalled at the anti-vaccination article written by a doctor under the pseudonym of Dr. Gifford-Jones. I’ve been baffled about how he gets a column in the paper, yet alone one that is widely syndicated, when much of his content sounds like an infomercial. In particular, I could point to numerous columns where he endorses a particular vitamin C supplement, bearing his pseudonym and photo.

His latest column suggests that daily high doses of vitamin C are a better alternative to getting the flu shot. Sure, there is a disclaimer at the end of his writing that reads: “The column does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure disease” and yet it’s difficult for some laypeople to distinguish that this is not medical advice. It is poor, unsupported advice for sure.

Gifford even brings up the alleged link between autism and vaccinations which was debunked years ago, and the researcher who faked the study, was completely discredited. He also said there may be a link between SIDS and vaccinations, which has also never been proven in any way.

This fake news trend needs to be quashed, especially when lives are at stake. This is irresponsible journalism, where multiple anti-vaccination arguments are proffered.

Real science, like that on Harvard’s health site points to bad years of flu vaccines reducing your chance of the flu by 25 per cent, and in good years by 50-60 per cent. Reducing my chances of flu to one in two is worth 10 minutes of my time.

I have friends who are seriously immunosuppressed and the thought of not getting vaccinated including not getting the flu shot is unconscionable, because I would never want to put them at risk of serious infection or death.

This is an often all too forgotten argument for why everyone who can, should, be vaccinated, because immunizations protect more than the person who gets the vaccination, they also protect those who are too young or too old to be protected, and those who cannot get immunizations.

I’m always shocked with the number of people who return to my opening question, asking whether they should get the flu shot or not on social media. Why would you not get a flu shot when there is no harm to getting it unless you have an extremely rare condition, or are allergic to the components of the shot? On the flip side there is much benefit, from protecting the elderly, infants, and immunosuppressed, to lessening symptoms you may have during flu season.

One person on social media said that they use essential oils to avoid the flu. Will they use essential oils to avoid polio as well? Not dissimilarly, Gifford thinks that vitamin C is the answer to everything. I think these people should be quarantined for 40 days like sailors in the harbour of Venice to ensure they don’t bring forth diseases (hence the word’s etymology from quaranta meaning forty days).

This year marks the centenary since the flu pandemic of 1918, which resulted in the death of 50 million people. I have already gotten my flu shot, and so have my children. I hope you will as well.

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