Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Flu vaccines 2008

Ever since I first became aware of the vaccination question, I have dreaded the arrival of the "flu season", and its attendant, required flu shots. Some sort of flu vaccine, either the shot or the snorted version, is required for pretty much anyone who works in a hospital, whether you're a physician, nurse, or work in the laundry. Getting the shot per se doesn't bother me. It may even almost make sense from an epidemiologic standpoint. What bothers me is the fact that - sooner or later - the shot is going to be manufactured using cell cultures derived from aborted babies, and that will put it on the "morally tainted" list. When this happens, I will no longer be able to passively roll up my sleeve and let the corpsman jab me in the arm (full disclosure: I'm too old for the snorted version). Rather, I shall have to refuse on moral grounds and this shall jam me up with my bosses for sure: I have no doubt that I will find myself standing, not sitting, in front of the big boss's big wooden desk, trying to explain why, as a Catholic, I should refrain from partaking of a vaccine whose manufacture involved the use of cell lines derived from aborted babies. Not being of martyr material, I dread that this day may come, as I have many mouths in my house who depend on me for their daily bread. So, for the past year or two have found myself reviewing the package inserts for all the year's current crop of flu vaccines so as to see where I stand. This year is no different. I went to the FDA's "Resources for health professionals" and obtained the list of all the vaccines and inhaled mists for this flu season. Then I checked their package inserts, generally a pretty good way of finding out what you need to know about a thing. Whew! They're all manufactured the good ole' fashioned way, culturing the viri in embryonated chicken eggs. That's bad news if you're a chicken embryo, but it's good news for me: I can put off doing the rug dance in the boss's office for another year.

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