A Jan. 16 letter repeating some of the falsehoods regarding the safety and effectiveness of vaccines demands an immediate response.
Gullible people who believe these rumors and refuse vaccination can possibly be responsible for the death of loved ones and, in the worst case, the deaths of thousands. Ten unvaccinated children under age 5 have already died on the Mainland this year from the flu.
First the mercury myth: Thimerosal, an organic mercury compound, has been added to flu vaccines for more than 50 years to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is absolutely no evidence for ill effects. It is quickly excreted from the body.
As for effectiveness, there have been randomized, placebo-controlled studies showing that the vaccine is 50 to 70 percent effective when well matched to the virus of the year, as it is this year.
Children taking the recommended booster shot show even greater effectiveness, up to 87 percent.
And while having a healthy lifestyle can't hurt, it won't stop many from getting the flu. Thousands die from it every year. Getting a majority of the population vaccinated is the best way to prevent most of those deaths.