By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
Yesterday some New York health care workers rallied in Albany in protest of a mandate that they get vaccinated against the H1N1 flu. But an infectious disease doctor at Northern Westchester Hospital believes that, while well intentioned, they are misguided.
Dr. Peter Welch says that - as with all medicines - there are risks in taking the vaccine - they are far outweighed by the benefits to one's self and to society.
He says that those who are in groups identified by the Centers For Disease Control as high risk absolutely should take the vaccine when it becomes available starting next week. That includes children, pregnant women, health care workers and anyone between the ages of 25 and 65 who has an underlying illness such as diabetes, pulmonary disease, or HIV/AIDS.
"I'm going to take it," Welsh says. "I'm a health care worker."
He says those in his field who are balking are "foolish."
"They are uninformed," he says, "in the scientific sense."
As an infectious disease specialist, Welch finds particularly worrisome those in the anti-vaccine movement who are trying to get parents to forgo vaccinations for their children.
"They may be well intentioned people," he says, "but they are grossly and terribly mistaken in their opinions."
He cites, as a prime example, polio, which has been eradicated in nations where everyone is vaccinated.
Many people argue that the concerns raised about the swine flu are much ado about nothing as compared with the "regular" seasonal flu. Welsh says that, while studies that have been done so far indicate that the swine flu produces a milder infection than the seasonal flu, the fact the population in general has built up very little immunity to it means many people could be infected. And because more people might get the swine flu, the concern is that,while milder, it could result in even more deaths than the seasonal influenza.