Be well. Practice big medicine.

In the absence of gravitas: crapola

HalProfile2009Mar22by Hal Newman

The latest in a countless series of grave warnings sent by email with an ever-changing list of signatories, this one was supposedly from a PhD MD RN MSc and opened with this phrase:

“No one should take the swine flu vaccine-it is one of the most dangerous vaccines ever devised”

In the absence of intense myth-busting information communicated by credible leaders, this kind of crapola propagates. Several times a day I find myself being called upon to explain why I believe it’s essential that we all get vax’d against H1.

Here’s my response:

For me, it has become a very serious risk v benefit model.

And understand, Di and I sweat each and every time we get the kids inoculated against something. We wonder – just a little bit – about the safety of the vax. There’s that moment of dread that lasts from the time the needle breaks skin to the time it takes for us to be convinced of no evil and debilitating sequelae.

And then there’s H1N1.

There’s nothing abstract about this – it’s not like the concept that I might be hit by a truck. Might. Maybe. Likely never happen.

H1N1 is a real threat. It has replaced the seasonal flu virus as the dominant flu bug crisscrossing the globe. Just think about that fact for a moment. Wow. H1N1 is the king of the microbe heap and it’s only been in circulation since April.

H1N1 has a disproportionately awful impact on the very young, on pregnant women, and on people with underlying medical conditions. How many asthmatic kids do you know? My own daughter is still prone to croup at age 11 – when she was younger she weathered some critical moments in ERs and ambulances. How many young people are medically fragile? How many adults are medically fragile? The answer will blow you away when you realize just how high the percentage of the population are considered at risk.

From the CDC briefing on Oct 16

“There are now a total of 86 children under 18 who died from this H1N1 influenza virus, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. We had 11 more influenza pediatric deaths reported in week 40, which is the week that ends October 10. Ten of those are confirmed to be due to the new strain, the 2009 H1N1 strain and the 11th is probably due to that but the typing hasn’t been completed. About half of the deaths that we’ve seen in children since September 1st have been occurring in teens between the ages of 12 and 17. These are very sobering statistics, unfortunately, they are likely to increase.”

From the CDC briefing on Oct 20

“More than half of the hospitalizations are occurring in young people under the age of 25. We are seeing 53% in people under 25 years of age. 39% of hospitalizations are in people 25 to 64 years of age. And only 7% of hospitalizations are occurring in the elderly. Almost a quarter of deaths are occurring in young people under the age of 25. Specifically, 23.6% of the deaths are in that age group. About 65% of the deaths are in people 25 to 64 years of age… With seasonal flu 90% of fatalities occur in people 65 and over. Nearly 60% of fatalities are occurring under age of 65.”

Bottom-line: Get the shot.

. . .

I understand why it’s probably a good idea to prevent access to some websites from within the hallowed halls of hospitals, however can anyone explain to me why the IT department of a major academic/pediatric hospital would block access to the government’s H1N1 pandemic information website?

In the absence of gravitas: crapola.

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