Managing Editor's Note: The East Coast AofA team took a drubbing from Hurricane Sandy. We are all safe and sound (and hope you are too) - but we gave Cathy the week off to tend to her family. Enjoy this post from last Fall.
By Cathy Jameson
I was filling a prescription for my typical son last week while hoping to stockpile some supplements that are known to ward off pesky coughs and colds lurking in our future. I was at a new place called The Wellness Pharmacy. Several people had recommended it, and I liked the sound of it. I was hoping they might offer some options to holistic or natural intervention like vitamins, supplements and organic products instead of ineffective over-the-counter syrups and flavored goo. I was eager to go inside to check things out, so I made a point to fill my son’s script there.
The store wasn’t a Big Box corner drug store, but a smaller Mom and Pop type of operation. I held out a little bit of hope thinking I might hit a jackpot of health and some of that wellness being advertised on the front door. Who knows? Maybe I would discover someone inside with a bit of knowledge about biomed to further guide me on this exhausting journey to heal my older vaccine injured son.
To my dismay, the owner should have dropped the word wellness from his sign. Instead, he would be better off naming the store *THE* Flu Shot Pharmacy because that’s the main product being advertised. Every counter, every shelf and every display screamed FLU SHOT. Even the stereo speaker system blared a flu shot commercial! I couldn’t escape the drivel repeating over and over again that “…NOW is the time to get your flu shot. DON’T be caught off guard. Isn’t it worth a shot?”
Worth a shot. It’s a simple expression. Yet, in the case of a vaccine it’s a terrible jest, a cruel joke. My health is not worth a shot. Shot meaning having a small chance of success. My health is worth a lot more than that. If I was to make that big of a medical decision, it wouldn’t be administered by an individual who knows nothing about my health beyond what medications he dispenses is frightful. The casual relationship I have with a pharmacist pales in comparison to the one I share with my personal health care provider.
Is injecting the vaccine in my body worth a shot? One that has 3 strains of the flu? No thanks. From the CDC website, the World Health Organization recommended these three flu vaccines viruses for this year:
an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus, an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)–like virus, and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus. (HERE) If I were to get the flu shot, choosing only one potentially toxic formula at a time makes more sense. Multiple-dose vaccines like the one available this year are risky. Why? What if I was one of the unlucky ones who had an adverse reaction? Well, when you choose to inject a multiple-dose vaccine you may never discover which part of the vaccine caused the problem. In situations like this, less is more. Another thing to consider is what if a reaction like a seizure happened at the Big Box drug store in the middle of the toothpaste aisle? Would anyone know that I just got the vaccine, and please call 911? I would think better a place, like a medical clinic would be a more ideal location to conduct medical business.
Flu shot victims or, flu shot advertisers? (Photo credit: Gabby DeVilbiss)
Wait! The flu season hasn’t even started yet and already the posters are plastered everywhere you look. Why are we seeing signs this early? Summer only officially ended this week, but several stores across my county had their signs up for at least a month already! We used to usher in seasonal, traditional fall lore with apple picking and pumpkin pie baking. Now, the adverts bypass all of that and go straight to doom and gloom. I’m sure one of the tactics for shoving the GET YER SHOT NOW is to be prepared for any outbreaks the upcoming months may bring, but it bugs me to see no less than 20 shiny signs lined up haphazardly across the entrance way of a chain drug store. Grocery stores are now in on the action and are full of the flu shot clutter as well. One or two should suffice, but 20? It’s not just unsightly; it’s overkill.
The grocery and drug stores should probably wait a few weeks to try to convince us that the flu shot really is worth a shot anyway. Reports will surely begin to circulate like they do every year-- that this year’s flu shot wasn’t completely effective. I remember a few years back reading a story haphazardly written very late in the flu season saying “…Whoopsie, the flu vax didn’t really do what we hoped it would. Catch ya next year!” Too bad that type of news isn’t circulated and posted wherever the flu shot is being advertised pre-flu shot season. Thankfully, more groups can see through the murky messages and instead share helpful and more balanced information. VaxTruth.org posted an article last week that dispels some of the chronic myths we hear annually to include that always exaggerated 36,000 deaths per year rate. Hopefully more consumers will recognize these myths and will be able to make more informed medical decisions.
What’s really worth a shot? How about a return to a mindset of taking charge of our own health every season? Cramming a vaccine in during the last two months of the year just doesn’t make sense. Instead of being pressured to get in line to roll up a sleeve followed by the reward of a colorful band-aid, we should be encouraged to practice preventative health measures year round. That can be done by taking care of our bodies by eating right, getting enough rest, washing our hands and avoiding people who are sick.
Other natural measures can help, too but are far less advertised in the media. Those people vested in pushing the flu shot won’t benefit from revealing these simple and much more cost effective steps. There is no financial gain for them. But, believe it or not, natural health remedies can work. Even though I cringed when I saw how The Wellness Pharmacy vomited its flu shot propaganda all over the store, I have to give the owner props for the few supplement and vitamin products I did see: probiotics, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and anti-virals. I only wish the five senior citizens who lined up in the same few minutes I was in the store could have been more aware of the natural approach of warding off sicknesses. Those people went straight to the counter to sign up for their dose of “wellness” in the form of a shiny needle.
The advertising for the upcoming flu season is just getting started. We will soon be bombarded by many media outlets stating the flu is a terrible, terrible thing. Yes, it is terrible. Yes, it is an annoyance. Yes, it can be very hard to live with for up to a week. Yes, it’s dangerous for the immunosuppressed individuals. But, remember this. This flu season will again be a big money maker for pharmaceutical companies who profit from the less informed. My guess is that we’ll see more and more groceries stores and pharmacies offering flu shots. The volume of people who enter those businesses compared to a doctor’s office must be astronomical. It will be hard to avoid the mumbo jumbo splayed all over those shopping center doors and windows, but don’t be fooled by the Big Box drug stores or the small-town pharmacies like I ran into. They are surely walking hand-in-hand with the vaccine industry. Those companies can stick it. To me, the flu shot just isn’t worth it.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.