Doctors and several established environmental and health groups have one clear message this time of year: A flu shot is good for you, and good for all of us, because, simply, influenza can be deadly.
At the fringes, however, are those who question the safety of the vaccine because of its use of a mercury-based preservative, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today. Mercury in certain forms, of course, can be a potent neurotoxin, meaning it attacks the brain. It can be particularly damaging to young children and fetuses exposed in the womb though both pregnant women and young children are among those authorities believe should be vaccinated against the flu.
Authorities say any risk, if there is in fact a risk, is negligible compared to the good that can come from a flu shot.
In a meeting with Hearst magazines, Julie Louise Gerberding, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called concern over mercury in vaccines an unwelcome "distraction" in the search for the cause of autism, which some parents believe may be linked to vaccinations. The real cause in an apparent uptick in autism incidence is still unclear, in Gerberding's view, but finding the true cause demands resources that have been used exhausting the search for a problem with mercury preservatives in vaccines.
Incidentally, concern about a pandemic flu, which Gerberding sees as an inevitability, is among the items at the top of her list of public health worries, along with global warming.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.