A word on vaccinations and flu shots

Posted 11/5/20

Vaccines are human’s best defense against viral infection.

Smallpox. Polio. Measles. German measles. Mumps. Whooping cough.

Chickenpox/shingles. Hepatitis. Human Papillomavirus. …

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A word on vaccinations and flu shots

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Vaccines are human’s best defense against viral infection.

Smallpox. Polio. Measles. German measles. Mumps. Whooping cough.

Chickenpox/shingles. Hepatitis. Human Papillomavirus. Influenza.

Now, hopefully, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Diphtheria, Hemophilus influenza, Pneumococcus pneumonia and meningococcus are bacterial infections for which there are vaccinations.

Some people don’t appreciate vaccines. This is mostly because they have never seen illnesses our major vaccines prevent. One of these is smallpox with a 35% death rate, gone since 1977. Paralysis and death from polio is almost gone, worldwide. You have likely never met anyone who had either of these. SARS-CoV-2 spreads more easily than polio.

SARS-CoV-2 is not as deadly as smallpox. A vaccine is not as likely to eradicate COVID-19.

All vaccines are not the same. A flu shot is not as effective as measles vaccine. The new COVID-19 vaccines are of unknown effectiveness and safety.

The initial COVID-19 vaccines will prevent illness rather than kill the virus.

Wearing face masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, adequate ventilation and being outdoors will still be crucial for enabling economic activity to revive and prevent spread of the virus.

You and I become ill, have heart attacks, pneumonia, colds, strokes, accidents, cancers, backache, fever, nausea, headache, diarrhea, and various other illnesses for no apparent reason all the time. When we have a vaccine injection, there are potential side effects. We have to try every vaccine and watch our response carefully in thousands of us in order to determine if any illness happening after the shot is caused by the vaccine or just happened as it would have anyway.

I nagged patients, and I nag you now, to have your flu shot before Halloween every year! I occasionally would fudge to Thanksgiving. Almost never close to Christmas.

The reason was that with flu season in full swing by January, it was too likely for you to have your flu shot and catch the flu the next day or two by chance and blame it on the flu shot. Then you would tell others the shot caused flu, when it did not. This would discourage all from having their flu shot. Then my waiting room would be full of flu next January, February and March, and I did not want that. This worked well, and after a decade of so, my patients were well protected from many strains of influenza, and winter was not so bad.

Most people are rightfully thankful for vaccines as keeping us from being sick. Thanks to Dorothy Rawleigh and staff at Chatham County Health Department, and everybody who vaccinates children, Chatham schools have a 95% or better steady vaccination rate. I urge our pharmacists to give children flu shots as well.

Dr. John Dykers was a family practitioner in Siler City from 1964 until 2010. In addition to making house calls and delivering babies, he served as chairman of Chatham Hospital’s continuing education program for 35 years. Find out more at dykers.com.


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