New Jersey is taking a hard line on the mandatory flu shot. It’s going to require that your child have one before he or she attends school. Some of you don’t care and agree that this is a good idea and others of you are against mandatory vaccines. But here’s a piece of information some of you may not have thought of. There’s a little document in the box that the flu vaccine comes in. We don’t really think about it like we would when a prescription medication is handed to us by the pharmacist. That’s because when we are given an injection, we don’t see the little box that the vial comes in. We just close our eyes and wait for the pinch.

But a friend of mine decided she wanted to see that little folded piece of paper that comes inside the flu shot box. It took a minute for her to convince the pharmacist to hand it over. First, he had no idea what she was talking about, as though no one had ever asked for this before. And maybe they hadn’t. Then, he grudgingly found one. And I’m glad he did. Because she shared it with me and I think there are some illuminating facts on this insert (available here from the FDA website). Maybe some you never even thought about. Here is the information patient information leaflet that comes with Fluvarin, the flu vaccine:

1. The single dose vial contains Mercury <1 mcg. This is called a trace amount by the industry. The multi vial contains 25 mcg. (Are you sure of how much mercury you’d like your kid to have in his system? Or you would like to have in yours?)

2. People with egg allergies are contraindicated. (Do they tell this to everyone?)

3. Safety and effectiveness have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 4. (Interesting, since the CDC on its website CLEARLY states, “Flu vaccination is safe for breastfeeding women and their infants aged 6 months and older. In fact, women who get the flu vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding develop antibodies against flu that they can share with their infants through their breast milk.” Oh, you mean the exact opposite of what the patient insert says.)

4. There are no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women. This vaccine should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed. It is not known whether Fluvarin is excreted in human milk. (Really? See number 3, above.)

5. Fluvarin has not been evaluated for carcinogen or mutagenic potential or for impairment of fertility. (Carcinogen potential? Question: Should you take something that may cause an often life-threatening disease to prevent a seldom life-threatening disease? Also, hey, CDC, are you sure I should use this while I’m pregnant? Or if I ever want to be?)

6. Antibody response is low in the geriatric population. (That’s ironic! Those are the people who they really peddle this drug to, convincing them that they will probably die from the flu without it.)

7. Serious reactions including anaphylactic shock have been reported. (Thanks for the warning! I’ll look out for that!)

8. There is no data to assess the concomitant administration of flu vaccine with other vaccines. (OK, so when you try to get me to take the coronavirus vaccine, are you going to stop pushing the flu vaccine?)

9. The vaccine has been associated with an increased frequency of Guillain-Barre syndrome. (Yeah, I know people who have had that. I really don’t want that.)

10. In some studies, Fluvarin protected up to 50% of subjects. (UP TO 50%???? Who would take those odds in Vegas?)

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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