Yesterday I met Dr. Mehmet Oz in the green room here at CNN before his segment on AC360°. We talked about the free clinic that he organized in Houston last week for Americans who don’t have health insurance, cant afford to see a doctor, but really need medical help. It broke records treating almost 2000 patients. And, of course, we spoke about whether or not to get the H1N1 vaccine.
Dr. Oz said he was getting vaccinated. As a surgeon, he said “it’s the responsible thing to do.” But he admitted that his wife and some of his kids are refusing to get the vaccine.
“Yikes,” I thought. I had hoped that this would be a good opportunity to get solid advice from Dr. Oz. Do I get the vaccine? Or don’t I? But, I thought, if his wife and kids aren’t listening to him – should I?
Regardless, I went ahead and asked, “What about me Dr. Oz? Should I be vaccinated?”
“Yes you should,” he said in the good nature that characterizes him, but also firmly, without thinking twice. “It’s the smart thing to do. Even if you aren’t in a risk group, you don’t want to take the chance.”
Good enough for me, I thought. He’s a renowned surgeon, on the board at Columbia University and Oprah’s doc for goodness sake!
But then after tweeting about my meeting I started getting inundated with messages on Twitter and Facebook about the H1N1 vaccine. The chatter continues, and seems to be growing about how unreliable the H1N1 vaccine may be. People are obviously unsure about its safety, no matter what the experts are saying.
One blog I read today pointed out that opposition to H1N1 vaccines continues to worry authorities. As the vaccines get distributed by the federal government to the states, opposition to getting vaccinated worries authorities – especially for those who are most at risk. How significant does the government think the number of people refusing to get vaccinated really is?
“Not only are patients asking me whether they should receive the H1N1 influenza vaccine, but it’s a question doctors are asking themselves. Recent polls say doctors and nurses may be more resistant to getting vaccinated than most Americans. The British Medical Journal published a survey showing that less than half of health care professionals are willing to receive the vaccine, while a poll from the Nursing Times found that only 37 percent of front-line nurses plan to be vaccinated against H1N1 influenza.”
So some doctors aren’t sure, nurses can’t decide, parents are still researching to make a final decision. I had Dr. Oz to help me make mine – though I may eventually be on the side of his wife and kids – but it worries me that flu season has begun and there are still so many unanswered questions about this vaccination.
Follow David on Twitter @puenteac360.
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