Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m happy to announce that I have started working at a family practice clinic here in Ellensburg!
One ordinary day out of the blue I received a phone call from a clinic I had interviewed at more than a month before. When I was interviewed they told me they didn’t have any openings, but that they were impressed by my resume (go cover letters!) and wanted to meet me, regardless. It took them only a month to create a job for me, and I’m very happy there.
Rather than doing regular Medical Assistant duties, however, what they are having me do is go through patient’s charts and verify that they are up to date on all of their preventative procedures- things like cholesterol tests, mammograms, and the dreaded colonoscopy. Actually, that is what I will be doing in the near future. For now- it’s flu season!!
Our clinic was blessed to receive some surprise shipments of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine. There is a shortage, so it was a happy surprise. What I am doing now is determining which patients are considered high-risk, and then contacting them to offer it.
No offense to anyone out there, but I’m now going to stand on my vaccine soap box.
Please vaccinate your kids, people. I know there is a lot of information out there and people get confused about the right things to do to take care of their children, and its scary! I’m going to address this post to the people who are unsure about this particular vaccine and not vaccines in general.
There are 2 major concerns I’m being asked about this vaccine:
- It contains mercury, or thimerisol.
- It is too new and hasn’t been tested enough.
#1. Thimerosol is a preservative in many vaccines, and yes, it does contain a type of mercury. It kills, or prevents the growth of, microorganisms that may come in contact with the vaccine. Not all vaccines contain this preservative, but some do. Not all H1N1 vaccines contain it, but some do. Bottles than contain multiple doses of a vaccine are required to have a preservative to prevent contamination. The type of mercury in thimerosal is ethylmercury, which is different than methylmercury, a related substance that causes the health problems you hear about related to mercury poisoning. Thimerosal has been used in vaccines since the 1930’s, and since then, thimerosal has been the subject of several studies and has a long record of safe and effective use preventing bacterial and fungal contamination of vaccines, with no ill effects other than minor local reactions at the site of injection.
Certain groups point towards thimerosol as a cause of autism. Studies have disproven this link. Even patients who have had mercury poisoning from methylmercury have been studied, with no increase in the presence of autism. Here is a link to a good article about thimerosal in the H1N1 vaccine. Please go to the CDC’s website if you have more questions about this- don’t just take my word for it. And talk to your child’s doctor!
#2. The flu shot you get each year is made the year before. Scientists guess which virus will be the most predominate the following flu season and make a vaccine for it. The H1N1 vaccine was actually started earlier than many yearly flu shots are. Due to demand for testing and the heightened scare do to increased deaths related to this virus, the vaccine available today has actually been through 2-3 times more testing than the “regular” flu shot.
I’m not an expert. I read a lot from a lot of experts, and I do the best I can to pass that information along to my patients. This virus may not seem like a big deal, because it isn’t affecting many in a very hard way. However, if you or your child have respiratory illness, if you spend a lot of time around babies under 6 months old, or if you are pregnant, please talk to your doctor about being vaccinated because the threats to these populations is very real and people in our country are dying from a preventable disease.