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Guest Opinion: Get your flu shot -- doctor's orders

 

The coming of winter conjures up fond images of hot chocolate by the fireplace, ski trips and snow days, holidays and family.

As a hospital-based internal medicine physician, however, I have a unique perspective: winter brings to mind medical wards filled with patients struggling to breathe, suffering from low oxygen levels and respiratory failure.


Dr. Thomas Lew
Every winter we see a return of that dreaded illness, influenza (the flu). Indeed, the flu leads to many hospitalizations and even deaths annually; last year alone, the death toll exceeded 79,400, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I cannot stress this enough -- please get your flu vaccination.

The flu is frequently thought of as a minor illness and is often considered to be synonymous with the common cold. This is actually not the case.

Rather than a minor annoyance of a runny nose, the flu will knock you off your feet. Affected people can experience high fevers, muscle soreness throughout their body (known as myalgias), sore throats, and difficulty breathing.

It can hit you all of a sudden, like a ton of bricks. It is highly contagious, spread through droplets in the air. It affects people of all ages indiscriminately but can be much more serious and life-threatening for those who are very young and very old.

While there is a medication that can shorten the duration and morbidity of the flu, the best treatment is to not get it in the first place. The flu vaccine is the best prevention of this virus.

The flu shot is recommended for anyone over the age of 6 months. It is safe, effective, and widely available. There are even versions that are made without eggs for those who have an allergy.

As an added benefit, if you protect yourself, you are also protecting others from exposure. And no, it does not cause autism. And no, it does not cause the flu (although some people can experience muscle soreness afterward).

Influenza is a class of viruses that is always mutating. The flu vaccine is reformulated each year to combat these mutations and is based on virology data from around the world. This means that it is not always 100% effective in preventing contraction of influenza; however, those who are already vaccinated and still get the flu tend to have a much milder course.

I may seem like an overbearing, nagging doctor, but this advice comes from experience. A few years ago, I took care of a 65-year-old woman who was having significant wheezing and shortness of breath. We quickly diagnosed her with influenza and started her on treatment.

She was a vibrant, funny woman, a mother of two and grandmother of four who enjoyed life traveling and hiking. But despite our best efforts, her breathing deteriorated, her oxygen levels dropped, and she ended up on life-support machines.

The flu eventually took her life. She had not received her yearly flu shot.

It continues to stick with me that something so preventable still causes so much pain. A few weeks ago, I diagnosed my first hospitalized patient with influenza in 2019. Not only did the patient have difficulty breathing, but it also worsened her chronic heart condition.

The season is again upon us. Get your flu shot. It'll protect not only yourself, but the loved ones around you, so that your winter can be more about hot chocolate and snow, rather than hospitals and sickness.

Editor's note: Dr. Thomas Lew is a hospitalist at Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University. For more information, contact Lew at tlew@stanford.edu or the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation at 373-4560.

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Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Danville Resident
a resident of Blackhawk
on Dec 3, 2019 at 8:01 am

Thank you, Dr. Lew! With the spread of measles becoming prevalent once more due to the bizarre anti-vax movement, it is more important than ever to be vaccinated and protect yourself and your families.


11 people like this
Posted by Bebop Delux
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2019 at 11:17 pm

The topic was about influenza, not measles.


20 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Dec 5, 2019 at 6:02 am

Please do not listen to the quacks that are among us like Greg Marvel a board member of SRVUSD. Which published a letter on the letter head of the district endorsing the view point the vaccines are bad. Greg Marvel is up for reelection and as no business making any decision for our kids and should have been kicked off the board years ago. The film "“The Greater Good” has been debunked as an anti-vaccine propaganda movie. We deserve active parents on the board not warm bodies collecting $400 dollars a month.

. Basically, it’s a letter by someone named Greg Marvel, who states that he is President of the Board of Education for the San Ramon Unified School District. The complete text of the letter is reproduced both at AoA and at the Canary Party website:

SAN RAMON VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville, California 94526

Board of Education

(925) 552-2933 • FAX (925) 838-3147 www.srvusd.net

March 16, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

RE: Vaccinations and the Film “The Greater Good”

My name is Greg Marvel, and I am currently the President of the Board of Education for the San Ramon Unified School District. I am serving my third term on the Board. In addition, I have an extensive background in educational administration, having served in various executive and Assistant CEO capacities in various K-12 and higher education institutions. I retired as a Vice Chancellor from a large college system and now am President of a consulting firm with over 100 school districts as clients. The comments in this letter are solely my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the rest of the Board of Education or my school district.

I recently had the opportunity to view the firm “The Greater Good” and found it to be very thought provoking. I am a strong believer in the use of vaccines. However, I also believe in informed consent for all parents. The tragic examples of the unintended consequences of vaccines on some of our children are graphically portrayed in this film. However, it presents a balanced argument, with national experts advocating for universal vaccination, while others in the film present cautionary arguments.

I have personal experiences with the potential adverse impacts of vaccinations on young children. My daughter was given her recommended series of vaccinations as a baby and small child. Each time, she became seriously ill for several days. We were assured that for some children that was normal. No one ever outlined the potential long-term and permanent damage that some children experience from vaccination routines. Thankfully, the impact on our daughter did appear to be temporary and she went on to graduate with honors from high school, UC Berkeley and Columbia University Law School. However, this film clearly outlines examples where the consequences were much more serious and long-term.

Parents should be encouraged to examine all the issues surrounding vaccinations and make an informed decision about what is best for their children. For many if not most parents, the decision to proceed will prove to be the right one. However, it is important that parents fully investigate and understand the benefits and the risks associated with the current recommended vaccinations and their opt out rights under their respective “mandatory” state vaccination laws. I see this film as a starting point for each viewer to begin the discussion within their own families about the benefits and risks associated with vaccinations, and thus strongly recommend that every parent watch this film.

Sincerely,
Greg A. Marvel
President, Board of Education


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Dec 5, 2019 at 7:28 am

Well said Bebop Delux!!!

"doctor's orders" it reads.

First off the doctor works for me. I pay him monthly and per visit, also i am responsible for my own health and well being. The doctor is hired by me to assist in finding appropriate treatment and care if needed. Still, at the end of the day its my responsibility not the doctor's (Who works for me).

Second, i agree with the above post. Vaccines are up to the individual and or parent or guardian. In this country especially where we are suppose to be free to make our own choices. I get most all my vaccines personally but do not get the flu shot. I having studied, and read up on it, asked questions and do not find the benefits to be worth injecting whatever that is in me. At least not at this point in my life.


14 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Dec 5, 2019 at 11:26 am

Web Link

Here is a link that shows a study of how ineffective the vaccine is.
It even stats that those who have been vaccinated are more at risk.

Just reinforces you should always research for yourself before taking the opinion of someone else.


Like this comment
Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2019 at 9:47 am

Vaccine injuries are not rare; injuries occur far more often than the U.S. government (and other governments) will officially admit. Our son suffered horrific reactions to his infant vaccinations, so much so that our then pediatrician (Denver, CO) mandated that our son have a medical exemption to the whole cell pertussis component to the whole cell DPT vaccine in use at the time.

Here is an article that, at least in part, describes vaccine injuries and explains what Vaccine Court is and how to seek reimbursement should you sustain a serious vaccine reaction/injury. Vaccines are DRUGS and as with any other drug, there are known side effects (read vaccine inserts for more info).
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2019 at 9:57 am

The below link is to the VAERS website (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System). Although pediatricians and all other practitioners who provide vaccines are supposed to report known reactions into this system, most often they do not, for various reasons. In our son's case, and even though his pediatric group explained to us that our son had suffered vaccine reactions, I had to document our son's injuries and report them to the VAERS system.

Because of our son's reactions, I commenced with intensive research into the vaccine debate throughout the years after our son's documented reactions. I have learned much about our medical system, notwithstanding the drug industry and how it works. Much to my chagrin, I might add.

Here is the link to the VAERS website:
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2019 at 11:52 am

@Mike,

With all due respect, Greg Marvel is not a quack, nor am I. Vaccine injures and yes, even deaths, have been associated with vaccine programs for many, many years now. I would ask that you perform your own due diligence w/o resorting to name-calling about a topic of which you've obviously not researched.

Further, no where in Mr. Marvel's statement, above, does he state that he is anti-vaccine, nor has he stated that parents should not have their children vaccinated. What he asked, and stated, is that parents perform their research into the vaccine issue and proceed from there.

Example: My mother was severely allergic to penicillin, so much so that it caused one of her lungs to collapse after she'd given birth to my sister. She could not tolerate this particular antibiotic ever again, and was told to fully inform her physicians re her reaction to that particular drug.

The same goes for vaccines. No one individual's immune system is the same; we all handle alcohol differently, we all have various degrees of tolerance and/or intolerance to foods, drugs, etc. The same vaccines our infant son was given, have also been given to many children, with no (apparent) side effects.

After our son's reactions, I commenced with research and found that most, if not all babies, who had reacted so severely to the whole cell DPT vaccine as our son had, had severe lactose intolerance (a fact of which I was then unaware at the time our son was born, as this runs in my family). Bovine serum is used in the manufacturing process re DPT vaccine. When I read DPT: A Shot In The Dark, I found, to my horror, that many of the children who had reacted to that particular vaccine, reacted in much the same way as our son had.

Do your research...PLEASE.

And I applaud Mr. Marvel for making the above statement, a courageous thing to do, considering the vast negative rhetoric from individuals who've done no research on this issue.


17 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Dec 7, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Greg Marvel put the stamp of SRVUSD on a letter endorsing a video that was found to be propaganda which has no scientific backing. That makes Marvel a quack. He used his position to endorse something he lacked the qualifications to determine fact from fiction. Marvel's judgement is suspect with regard to the safety of our children and he should not be in a position to make decision about our children.


Like this comment
Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2019 at 12:44 pm

"Greg Marvel put the stamp of SRVUSD on a letter endorsing a video that was found to be propaganda which has no scientific backing..."

AGAIN, with all due respect, would you care to share with the rest of this board this letter of which you are speaking? Furthermore, whatever your opinion may be on a personal level regarding Mr. Marvel, your statement that he is a quack regarding his statement asking parents to perform due diligence regarding the vaccine issue, is incorrect.

I happen to know for a fact that Mr. Mawrvel is PRO vaccine. He said this to my face years ago. I am not going to s Tate, on a broad basis, that I don't have any issues as to some of Mr. Marvel's decisions regarding SRVUSD issues, but on this particular issue re his vaccine statement, in my opinion, you are simply incorrect.

Again, I cannot emphasizes enough that you need to perform your own due diligence regarding THIS particular issue (regardless as to what other opinion you may hold as to Mr. Marvel's activities on the SRVUSD school board).


Like this comment
Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2019 at 12:49 pm

..."I am not going to s Tate, on a broad basis..."

That should read "state" on a broad basis...sorry for the typos.


15 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Dec 7, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Bayareamom,
The entire letter composed on SRVUSD stationary is in my earlier post. You seem to fixate on the word "quack" but failed to comprehend the rest of the post. Marvel's actions speak louder than his words. The header of Marvel's letter.
"SAN RAMON VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville, California 94526
Board of Education
(925) 552-2933 • FAX (925) 838-3147
ww.srvusd.net"

Your ability to google does not make you a scientist. No amount of reading of fiction will enable you to make a sound decision if you lack the education and rigor required to determine fact vs fiction. If you believe you can make life/death medical decisions that effect your kids without consulting a medical doctor then I pity your kids. Measles deaths are growing because of "quacks" like Marvel.


Like this comment
Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2019 at 2:56 pm

@MIKE,

This will be my last comment to you. I find you rude, obnoxious and unwilling to LISTEN to what I've been politely stating to you --

lI DID, in fact, read the entirety of the letter you posted. In fact, I read it in its entirety years ago, when Greg first penned it. In fact, I was one of the individuals of whom Greg spoke with when he received a plethora of negative reactions to this very letter, afterwards. He never, ever stated in this letter that he is anti-vaccine. ALL he stated was that parents need perform their own due diligence/research regarding vaccines. That's ALL he said.

Further, years ago, when our son reacted to his infant vaccines, we had no computer, so google wasn't available. My husband is an attorney; I am a former legal researcher. We researched materials in our public library, in a medical library, and in my husband's legal library at the time. It was during this interim in which we discovered, when reading a plethora of medical journals and publications, that our son's vaccine reaction(s) were thoroughly documented in peer reviewed/published medical journals (much to our dismay).

When we brought this information to our then pediatrician, he looked at me and asked me if I was a nurse. I stated that no, I was not a nurse, but I can READ. This information that we uncovered is PUBLISHED in written medical journals, including Pub Med.

Measles does not normally kill children in the U.S. I don't know how old you are, but I have had all the requisite childhood diseases, i.e., measles, mumps, chicken pox and guess what. I survived, as did all my childhood friends as well. My Grandparents all had these childhood diseases and guess what - they survived as well, with conferred NATURAL immunity for life.

Vaccines carry an extreme load of toxins, such as aluminum, mercury and other expedients/viral contaminants, that when injected directly into the bloodstream, can and do break through the blood brain barrier.

When our son came home after his round of vaccines, he had fallen into a deep somnolence (extreme sleepiness) and did not awaken for almost 40 hours. When he did awaken, he let out this horrific scream which lasted for well over 3 hours. This is what they call the encephalytic cry. Brain inflammation. It was horrific to watch. He was just four months old.

Lest anyone call me anti-vaccine, WE WERE VACCINATING our son when this occurred. We did not know what this excessive sleepiness and then horrific crying was all about, until I called our pediatrician. It was then that he explained to us that our son was having a documented vaccine reaction.

I know for a fact that medical students, including nurses, are NOT taught about the negative side effects to vaccines. They are taught ONLY that vaccines are safe, effective for all, none of which are completely true.

Further, when you are damaged by a vaccine, as many adults and children are (or killed0, you cannot sue the vaccine manufacturer(s). You have to go through here in the U.S. a Vaccine Court, which is an adversarial process at best.

I could go on and on as to what I have learned since our son's vaccine reactions. I do not believe in vaccine mandates, because too much is not known as to who will be most severely impacted upon vaccination. You are playing Russian roulette each and every time you are injected, not knowing what the outcome will be. I have interviewed many pediatricians, one in particular who stated to me that he would literally hold his breath when he would vaccinate a child, knowing that some of them would be harmed.

You sound very bitter and angry. I realize this can be an emotional topic for many, but the truth isn't always pleasant, as both my husband and I found out after we had our son.

I will no longer respond to your rhetoric, but will say that I do not mean to be rude to you, but would respectfully ask you to at least research this issue a bit more. It is obvious you have fallen for the rhetoric of the pharmaceutical companies regarding this subject. Much of the information Have gleaned comes directly from the CDC website itself.

My best to you...


Like this comment
Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 7, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Former NICU nurse speaks out:

Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Dec 8, 2019 at 11:13 am

Bayareamom,
I now understand your level of objective thinking with your posting of a link to video from a nurse.

This nurse is not a medical researcher and is equivalent to me asking a cop for legal advice. If you lack the ability to verify your sources than you are making decisions based on subjective reasoning. When it comes to the health of your child you need to use objective reasoning. Otherwise I could determine that milk causes people to be pedophiles because 99.9% of the pedophiles upon arrest had milk in the refrigerator. With 99.9% of children being vaccinated every child's health problems can not be connected to the vaccination. Just as milk can be connected to the behavior of every pedophile. Only with extensive medical research can a true root cause of every child's health problem be found. The autism connection to vaccination was debunked by showing that autism is carried in a gene. If you want to move the needle with more understanding of health problems of kids fund medical research.

Currently the countries leading in the resurgence of diseases which vaccines had effectively stopped are the United States and Venezuela. Venezuela has the excuse of a collapsing medical infrastructure. The reason the US is seeing the resurgences is the anti-vaccine cult is causing parents to drink the kool-aid.
"For the United States, it was Facebook and Twitter. As anti-vaccine sentiment has grown on social media -- some of it propelled by Russian bots and trolls -- more and more parents have opted to not immunize their children.
These parents tend to live in clusters, such as the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York, which helps encourage measles to spread.
While social media is a part of parents' everyday lives, the ravages of vaccine-preventable diseases are in the distant past.
Schaffner said when he's spoken to parent groups, there's been considerable ignorance about even basic facts about infectious diseases.
"This is a true story. At one of these meetings I was talking about polio, and a mother asked me -- and this is a complete quote -- 'Why are you suddenly talking about shirts?' It took me a minute, but I realized she thought I was talking about polo shirts," Schaffner said. "This was a college educated woman out in the business world and she hadn't come across the concept of polio. She may be a bit of an outlier -- but maybe not. I think she actually illuminates the problem."


3 people like this
Posted by Outside view
a resident of Walnut Creek
19 hours ago

It is amazing how emotional, and irrational humans are.
At the end of the day we should be left with a choice. Is that not what freedom is all about, something that has been disappearing from this country each and everyday. The problem to me seems to be everyone thinking they know what best for everyone, when really they just know whats best for themselves. Even if someone chooses poorly its not for us (society) to start making decisions for them. For without choice we have nothing!


3 people like this
Posted by Layla
a resident of San Ramon
17 hours ago

We live in America and the last I knew, we are free to make our own decisions about our health and what goes into our bodies. If vaccines work so well and you are up to date with your vaccines, why are you so busy arguing with people who choose not to vaccinate. Not everyone gets the same type of medications when they need them because we are all unique so why is there a one size fits all vaccine schedule for the new generation. Furthermore, we all received just a few vaccines when we were kids (1962 5 doses of 3 vaccines) but now babies and children are getting 72 doses of 56 vaccines. Why the overkill with vaccines when just a few doses were effective? Take off the blinders and wake up, it goes back to the root of all evil....money.


9 people like this
Posted by Danville
a resident of Danville
17 hours ago

So many people lack any critical thinking analysis skills it is amazing.

First, to you people who yell, "This is America, we are free to make our own medical decisions", please take a deep breath and concentrate. If you live on an island with no other habitants and you never leave your island, you are free to do what you want. But that is not the case here. If you decide not to vaccinate your child, your child passes on illnesses to other children at school, at parks, at libraries(where you allegedly spend so much time doing your "research" which means reading posts from Jennie McCarthy and other celebrities who never attended college and have zero real education). Your negligence in not having your child vaccinated causes medical risks to your own child, and to our children. So, no, you are not legally or ethically free to make ridiculous medical decisions that endanger your children and others.

Second, who is better qualified to discuss the medical issues involving vaccines, a board certified pediatrician who graduated with honors from Stanford Medical School, did an internship and residency in pediatrics, or some chiropractor or nurse? Fact is you do not even need an undergraduate degree to get into chiropractic school, a so-called "profession" created by a Mr. Palmer, who owned a grocery store in Iowa and claimed he cured a deaf janitor's hearing by pressing on his spine. Boy, what a "science".

So, enough with the conspiracy theories pushed by uneducated celebrities about the evils of vaccinations, and time to listen to the actual medical doctors who specialize in pediatrics. Yes, of course, there are risks with every type of medication, but like any other medical decision, you weigh the benefits against the risks, and look at the mathematical odds. If 99% of patients have no adverse side affects from vaccines, and the vaccines prevent terrible, deadly diseases and deaths from spreading, you have the vaccine. If you are one of the very, very few people who have an adverse reaction, than with the advice of your medical doctor, not chiropractor or nurse, you proceed with different treatment plan.


3 people like this
Posted by Layla
a resident of San Ramon
16 hours ago

Unless your child is vaccine injured, you won’t understand the consequences of vaccinating. You sit here and make ridiculous assumptions about our kids making your kids sick but do you care that our kids are permanently disabled because your vaccines almost killed them? Do you care? Probably not so until you walk in our shoes, don’t assume you know what your talking about because after you live it, you become an expert.


5 people like this
Posted by Outside view
a resident of Walnut Creek
14 hours ago

@ Danville,

Thank you for thinking for the rest of us and taking away our rights.
Maybe you should run for office.


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