All is as it should be again

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time to get my flu shot.

So that’s just what I did yesterday. I decided to brave that evil, toxin-laden, mercury-infused nastiness, all in order to protect myself and my patients against influenze. As you might recall, last year, when I was off to get my flu vaccine, I pointed out that our cancer center required the flu vaccine for all employees who deal with patients, whatever their capacity, from physician to nurse to medical aide to receptionist. Refuse to get the flu vaccine, and you get to wear a mask any time you are in teh presence of a patient. It’s a reasonable policy, particularly at a cancer center, where there are all sorts of patients who are immmunsuppressed due to chemotherapy. As I pointed out before, it’s imperfect (personally, other than medical reasons, I see no reason why employees at a cancer center, where immunosuppressed patients are cared for, should not be required to be up on all their vaccinations, including the flu vaccine every year), but it’s a reasonable compromise between patient safety and personal freedom.

I did have one problem last year, though. There was no thimerosal in the vaccines our cancer center administered, leading me to ask, “Dammit, where’s my thimerosal?” There I was, left to console myself that Glaxo-Smith-Kline’s Fluarix, which was the vaccine administered last year, did still have , formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, and TRITON® X-100, but somehow it just wasn’t the same.

As I headed to the room where they were administering flu vaccines to employees, I wondered. What would happen this year? It turns out that I was in for a pleasant surprise. I looked at the label of the vaccine. It was Novartis’ Fluvirin. And guess what Fluvirin contains?

Yep, thimerosal, baby! Not just thimerosal, though, but also polymyxin, neomycin, betapropiolactone, and nonylphenol ethoxylate. It even contains trace formaldehyde.

My faith in big pharma is restored.