When I recommended here a month ago that we all get vaccinated against influenza this year, I had no idea how much controversy it would stir up. Some of the concerns are legitimate, but we have alternatives. Other concerns stem from irresponsible rants on the Internet that I've traced back to a totally discredited South Carolina doctor.
My article here last month jumped the gun. I knew that the flu authorities at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wanted to talk with me so that I could help get the word out. But since CDC and the Health Central Network weren't able to work out the arrangement in time, I wrote then because the flu season was already upon us.
Now, I have had the opportunity to interview the CDC's expert on the flu. Carolyn B. Bridges, MD, is the associate director for science in its influenza division. I focused that interview on the concerns that you shared in your comments to last month's article.
One short comment succinctly summarizes those concerns. "I don't get the flu shot because it has [thimerosal] and other toxic substances,"mb wrote. "And the flu virus mutation which is going around is just as likely not to be covered by the virus design[ed] for the year. Also, I don't want a live virus vaccination for anything, as it would automatically give me the disease in question."
The biggest concern is the use of thimerosal, a preservative that the United States Code of Federal Regulations requires in multi-dose vials of flu vaccines. Flaming those concerns the most has been a doctor in South Carolina.
That sounds terrible! So I had to check it out, starting with my question to Dr. Bridges at the CDC.
But there's much more. What about Dr. Fudenberg's credentials?
It turns out that he's not the most reliable doc out there. The South Carolina medical board found Dr. Fudenberg "guilty of engaging in dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional conduct," fined him $10,000, ordered him to surrender his license to prescribe controlled substances (narcotic drugs), and placed his license on indefinite suspension."