This week’s American Profile, the weekly insert in my hometown paper, the Watertown Daily Times, had an ad that got my attention. The ad was for a vaccine to prevent shingles. I’d never seen or heard of such a vaccine. But the ad reminded me of the recent push from so many directions for everyone to get vaccines for all kinds of diseases.
The Gardasil vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), the vaccine for what is popularly known as “swine flu,” er, that would be “H1N1,” this vaccine for shingles, and on and on. In fact, the CDC’s Immunization page lists 27 diseases for which there are vaccines. For children ages 0-6, the CDC recommends 11 different vaccines and 10 for young people ages 7-18.
To vaccinate or not has been and continues to be a hot topic–for parents making decisions on behalf of their children and for adults making decisions for themselves. That issue isn’t the point of this post.
What I think is becoming all too apparent, especially in light of this disaster of a bill audaciously called “health care reform,” is that we have outright fearmongering. I suspect it’s the pharmaceutical companies that are largely culpulable here, but I don’t think they’re alone. The pharmaceuticals (Merck pops up frequently in connection with vaccines) need to keep us afraid that we’re going to get some dread disease so we keep buying their vaccines and thereby improving their bottom line while possibly really endangering our health. The media picks up these scary stories and plays them ad nausem, increasing the fear.
Then, if we get this universally-bad health care program, and we get sick from the vaccine(s), we are at the mercy of the system as to whether we are statistically worthy of treating. And this whole atrocious cycle starts because we buy into the fearmongering.
Fear is a natural human emotion–and often a very good one. But fear used as a means to scare people into decisions that may very well not be in their best interest is just plain wrong, especially during an economic crisis that has many people worried about paying any medical expenses.
Next thing you know someone will be hawking a vaccine for fear! Do yourself and your family a huge service. Research before you jump on the vaccine boat. Don’t let scare tactics and fear drive you in this life and death matter. Get educated so you can make informed decisions for yourself and your family.