UHA Worksite Wellness

The Impact of Immunization: How Quickly We All Forget!

Written by George McPheeters, MD, FACS on October 06, 2016. Posted in Healthcare

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The SARS "epidemic" which really hurt the Hawaii economy and generated a ton of pictures in the newspaper of folks wearing masks occurred in early 2003.  There were about 8,000 cases and 750 deaths WORLDWIDE but nearly all the deaths occurred in Hong Kong. We were lucky.

In all of 2014, 2015 and 2016 there were about 29,000 cases of Ebola worldwide with 4 in the U.S. There were 14,000 cases in Sierra Leone and 4,000 deaths. There was one death in the U.S.  

In the 1918 flu epidemic there were 500 million (yes 500 MILLION) cases of influenza across the world.  Remote islands and even the Arctic saw cases.  As much as 5% of the world’s entire population died!  That is somewhere between 50 and 100 million people.  Between 500,000 and 750,000 Americans died.  Previously healthy young adults were hit as hard as the very young and very old.  Native Americans were hit the hardest.  Today, you cannot work in an Indian Health Service hospital without immunization!

Benefits Far Outweigh the Risks

At present, we cannot prevent SARS with immunization, nor do we have an Ebola vaccine.  These diseases have been trivial compared to what influenza did to world health ever since 1918.  There was no vaccine back then.  Worldwide, annual flu-related illnesses are estimated to result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The Indian Health Service now demands that everyone become vaccinated because they are very safety conscious. These vaccines are infinitely safer than the risk of disease!

Vaccines are not completely perfect at preventing all of the diseases for which they are given, and there are a small number of occasionally serious risks associated with them. However, the benefits far outweigh the minimal risks and the vast majority of "adverse events" are coincidental, not causational. For instance, children are immunized at the same ages when neurological disorders such as autism are likely to manifest. The myth persists, even though there is no scientific evidence to suggest that inoculation in any way causes these disorders. We all know that medical recommendations can change, but preventive immunizations have truly stood the test of time.

Get your flu shot! They are safe. They are typically very effective. They are free to all UHA members. Let's do it together because the flu is nothing to be sneezed at.

Your company cares.  Show that you care too—by protecting yourself, you will be protecting others.  


Check out the links below for more information about the seasonal flu shot and how UHA members can get their flu shot today. Also learn how you can help protect yourself and those around you against other infectious diseases.


 

Q4-2016-fluhep-a-factsHelp March of Dimes #ZAPZika

 

 

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George McPheeters, MD, FACS

UHA Chief Medical Officer

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