In my humble old opinion the public would be well-served by public service announcements that explain why the easy act of washing one’s hands prevents disease, and this is especially true during flu season.
When I was a child, my paternal grandmother often reminded me, “Don’t touch your face in public (eyes, nose, mouth), germs can enter there. If germs are on your hands when you touch your face, they will go in and make you sick.”
When I was a young adult receiving on-the job training for one of my first jobs in life, as a nurse’s aide at Eitel Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the nurse instructor had additional words of wisdom: wash your hands after using the toilet, blowing your nose, before preparing or serving food, and between patients. I do not know how thorough on-the-job training is today, but she had us practice washing our hands in demonstration basins until she was satisfied that we could do it correctly: make a good soap lather, wash your palms, wash the backs of your hands, and wash the sides of your hands (they are three dimensional objects), wash your fingers, wash between your fingers, and a soft nail brush run a couple of times across your fingernails would be very good. She admonished, “Do not forget to wash your thumbs.” "And, wash your wrists." Later I learned the interesting factoid that different germs reside in different locations on your hands depending on which hand, which finger you habitually use for what purpose. Scientists have cultured scrappings from different locations on your hands and fingers into petri dishes of agar and found that veritable gardens grew, each with different bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. To this day I follow that stern, earnest instructor’s hand-washing directions after contact with something contagious, and half a century later I respectfully remember her.
As my contribution to the on-going public debate regarding the risks and benefits of vaccinations, I favor vaccinations in general. For example, in the past decade or two since I started getting a flu shot every year, I have not once gotten the flu. So either my old body has finally developed immunities to every flu pathogen on earth, or the vaccines are effective.
My year of birth was 1949, and according to medical records that I found in my late mother’s papers, the state of Minnesota where we were residing had policies at the time that ensured that I was protected from smallpox by vaccination in 1949/1950; and protected by vaccination from diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus in 1949/1950/1951. My somewhat backward Mother refused to provide any other childhood immunizations to me, and I recall with overwhelming humiliation how school administrators refused to admit me without them. My mother had already held me back a year, saying that I was “shy”. I was not shy, I was beaten down, and desperate to go to school, to learn to read, to find out about numbers, to grow. I was a full-head taller than everyone else in the first grade lineup to go into my first class, and being literally yanked out of that line like a Typhoid Mary made my first day at school dreadful. I simply do not remember what happened afterward. I have found no records of childhood immunizations for me after 1951. I can only hope that the standard vaccinations were given to me so that I was not a potential disease vector into the most vulnerable, the other children. It horrifies me to think that I may have been.
My trust has always been in good science, and my mother’s records show that I was vaccinated for diphtheria and smallpox in 1961 when I was a preteen, done through the school system. I was vaccinated in 1965 with the Trivalent Poliovirus Vaccine live, oral vaccine, again done through the school system. One of my legs is ½” shorter than the other, for which I have compensated by standing and walking that leg on slight tiptoe for every step of my life (a defect caused by early polio?) I suspect that my hip and consequently back misalignment made it harder for me to dance, hike in deserts, climb up mountains, and swim along oceans as I did; and now my pain is exacerbated by all that uneven wear and tear. I knew my leg was a little short, I felt the pain, but I wanted to experience the world to the best of my ability. I was given a polio booster vaccination in 1979 by the United States military when I went into volunteer service for United States Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa.
I recognize that vaccines which are incompetently or maliciously manufactured, perhaps in foreign countries who do not love America, carry the terrible tragic threats of causing Asperger’s syndrome in our children, severe allergic reactions in anyone, and as in my own case after a Walgreen’s Zostavax Shingles vaccination*, can actually transmit the disease that it should have prevented. The Walgreen’s Zostavax Shingles vaccination, that my Humana medical insurance recommended for me at my age and provided to me in 2015, began as a festering pit with surrounding swelling, as can be seen in the image that I have posted herein. It progressed to a deep and painful bruise that wrapped around my entire arm, and my notes say it persisted so that “5 weeks later still looks like deep, under skin bruise or infection.” I worried that it would necrotize because my arm was so sore and hard to move, but the dermatologist said it was stable and would take a long time or forever to fade. She did not want to get involved by making any comment on the vaccine that caused it. The vaccine gave me an unsightly and uncomfortable whole body rash. I subsequently developed “lines of welts on the back of my shoulder that itch and hurt”. About the same time there were “three large, deep under-the-skin red spots on right breast...which turned into a round rash with purplish shadow under it.” Horrifying. I was too sick to twist around in front of a mirror to take another photograph of the disease progression. I did not even think of it. I had been subdued by my Primary Care Physician (PCP) who refused to get involved when I asked him to take a photograph of it for me, and by the dermatologist who refused to comment, and by the disease itself. I was ill for weeks, months maybe. Will it reoccur? I wonder where in the world that vaccine was manufactured and by whom?
Walgreen’s claims contractor Sedgwick (a slick way for Walgreen’s to get distance from responsibility) gave me $500.00 in a way that suggested I should be grateful and quiet. Walgreen’s manager gave me a free pot of face cream. That might have been a cruel joke, but was more likely a lame attempt at personal compensation. I did not thank him, and I did not fault him, I knew that someday I would be responding in my own way in this blog. Now, just two years later, I see that current cases can join a bad shingles vaccine lawsuit.**
The solution is for the government to really monitor vaccine production, and for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to post detailed information on vaccines on their website that is readily accessible to parents and others who are vulnerable. Do not throw the baby (vaccines) out with the bathwater (negligent or malicious vaccine manufacturers).
Still and after all, I believe that the World Health Organization is correct: “Vaccination Greatly Reduces Disease, Disability, Death And Inequity Worldwide”.*** I saw firsthand the effects of disease and lack of medical care in Mali, West Africa.
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* “Merck’s Zostavax is a shingles vaccine for people age 50 and older. According to The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Merck’s product is the only live virus shingle vaccine currently available. The CDC recommends that adults 60 and older receive a dose of the vaccine.”
** Zostavax Shingles Vaccine Lawsuit. “Recent studies have found that Merck’s shingles vaccine Zostavax can actually cause shingles, the virus it’s used to prevent, as well as chickenpox and a host of other serious side effects.”
“Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one was injured by the Zostavax shingles vaccine, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.”
*** Source: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/2/07-040089/en/
Just for the record, this is a piece of my correspondence attempting to get care & compensation:
August 10, 2015
MEDICARE – MSP
MSP Claims Investigation Project
PO Box 138897
Oklahoma City, OK 73113-8897
RE: Beneficiary: Annmarie Throckmorton
I’ve received your MEDICARE SECONDARY PAYER DEVELOPMENT form and find it very offensive that it is all in red-which actually makes it harder to work with.
Today I called MEDICARE regarding MSP, MSP Claims Investigation Project and was informed that filling out your complex, red, offensive form is not necessary. I was told that what Medicare requires is contact information for Walgreen’s because Walgreen’s may reimburse me for a live Zostavax vaccination site (shingles/chickenpox/Herpes zoster) that Walgreen’s gave me on 06-05-15, and which caused an adverse reaction which 9 weeks later still looks like deep, under skin bruise or infection. I am still very concerned about this deep “bruise” that does not heal. I have an appointment to see another dermatologist in two weeks.
Correspondence with contact information for Sedgwich which represents Walgreen’s is attached.
Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.
Caption: Self-photograph by Annmarie Throckmorton, 2015.
A whole body rash is beginning to form the day after the vaccination.
Arrow = Zostavax Shingles vaccination site 2015.
My PCP refused to take a picture for me, because he did not want to get involved,
he referred me to a dermatologist, who also did not want to comment on the vaccination.
Note: if you feel this image should have remained private,
I certainly understand how you might feel that way,
but I am only here for another decade or two or less,
so if I am going to speak out clearly, now is the time to do it.
This personal image is my way of making it clear.
If you still think that it is too personal, do not look at it.