Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 24, 2013

Don’t listen to columnist’s advice

— Stephanie Price’s “Go beyond the headlines and check the facts,” column (The Goshen News Jan. 13,) was potentially deadly in its misinformation, confusion and lack of science-based information. Price ridicules the possibility of a current actual influenza epidemic by calling it a “nasty cold outbreak.” The teenager I cared for last year who died following an influenza infection is not here to protest her ignorance, nor are the (40) Hoosiers who have died so far this year of the flu.

If you really want to dig deeper and check the facts, don’t look to a single website as Ms. Price would have you do. Consider recommendations from national health authorities and professional societies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Patient Safety Foundation, the American Hospital Association, the American College of Physicians and the Infectious Disease Society of America, for starters. Each of these organizations recommend vaccinations, particularly for those among us who are most vulnerable and those who care for the most vulnerable, including — and especially — health care workers.

This year’s flu vaccine is estimated to be 62 percent effective. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s the best defense we’ve got and its benefits far outweigh its risks. Discouraging people from protecting themselves with a flu shot multiplies everyone’s risk as the unvaccinated and those who fail to respond to the vaccine continue the spread of the virus.

Vaccines are good, not bad. They help people stay healthy and prevent the spread of disease. It is because of vaccines that we have virtually eradicated polio, smallpox, diphtheria and other incapacitating and deadly diseases. It is irresponsible to spread misinformation about something this important. Please, “go beyond the headlines and check the facts.”

— Daniel A. Nafziger, MD, MS

Health Officer, Elkhart County