The flu vaccine has been around for many years. To not get a flu shot is irresponsible. A person who gets sick is infectious and spreads the disease, mainly to those who are not vaccinated.
The immune-deficient, such as patients on cancer chemotherapy, those who have had organ transplants, or are HIV positive, are at risk because their condition may prevent them from getting vaccinated. Infants first get vaccinated for flu at 6 months of age. They too are at risk.
There are rules regarding reportable diseases, such as the flu. Discussing this with the media is a public relations problem, not a legal one. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevents a free revealing of patient information.
Defining a death as “flu-related” is not straightforward. Usually, other medical problems exist. Sorting them out is not always easy. Death certification often gets done by someone not trained in it, which includes most physicians.
The vaccine works. The message to repeat is this: if you’re not vaccinated, do so, today. It’s for your sake and the sake of the community.
DR. CARL SCHMIDT
Medical Examiner Wayne and Monroe counties, Monroe
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