As swine flu kills more people across the U.S., the number of deaths in Nevada has now reached thirty. The government is taking steps to curb the pandemic, issuing free vaccines for high risk groups, but certain ingredients in those vaccines are controversial and some parents are opting out.
Chris Tognarelli is in the high risk group, but says she isn't taking any chances vaccinating her family against swine flu. She believes the benefits simply do not outweigh the risks, saying "I won't do it, and I won't do it for my kids or my grandkids."
Chris is concerned about the ingredients which include potentially harmful substances such as latex rubber, aluminum, formaldehyde and mercury. Dr. Michael Gerber shares Chris' concern. He says, "mercury is a neurological poison and it's not good for anyone," arguing that "there's no safe dose of mercury to inject into people, really." Dr. Gerber also says those most sensitive to mercury poisoning are the same at-risk groups the government is focusing on for the vaccine. However, the C.D.C. and health officials like Dr. Cheryl Hug English don't believe the small quantities pose a threat.
"I think what's most commonly talked about is thimerosal which does contain a very small amount of mercury, which has been shown in scientific studies not to be a problem." She continues, "the flu vaccine is made every year, so even though it's a new strain, the procedures for making the vaccine are the same."
Allergies can occur with any flu vaccine, so read the fine print. In this case, if you are allergic to eggs or birds, do not get the vaccine. Understand the ingredients and the risks. Vaccines will reduce flu incidence rates, but it's difficult to calculate absolute numbers. It's up to you to make an educated decision.
Chris Tognarelli says she's done her research and is still opting out. "I'm not gonna put my kids health at risk by putting something in their bodies that there's not enough information on and could harm them later in life."
Instead she's sticking to the basics: washing hands and eating healthy. If her kids get sick, she'll treat them the old fashioned way with lots of rest and chicken soup.