Doctors, pharmacists divided over H1N1 vaccine

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - As we wait for the H1N1 vaccines to be available to the public, the conversation over whether or not to get vaccinated rages on. Last week, we heard public concerns about the shot, and this week we found out that there is a surprising group who isn't very confidant in the shots either. A few East Texas doctors and pharmacists are expressing their worries about the vaccine, while others are telling their patients to play it safe.

Their job is in public health care. Their mission: To take care of the sick. But, when it comes to a vaccine that could prevent the H1N1 virus, pharmacist Jeff Abelt is an example of those who will opt out.

"I'm, personally, not going to get it," said Abelt.

And, he isn't alone. Dr. Mack Stewart is an ER physician.

"I will not get the vaccine for a couple of different reasons," said Stewart.

Among these reasons is fear of the unknown.

"The only concern I have about the H1N1 vaccine is that it has not been used on millions of people, and with any drug or any treatment we come out with, the clinical trials are only the tip of the iceberg," explained Stewart.

"I guess my biggest concerns are that we just don't know," said Abelt.

But, Dr. William Moore, the director of EMS at East Texas Medical Center disagrees. He says H1N1 vaccines are prepared responsibly, just like the seasonal flu vaccines.

"I've never seen anybody hurt by a vaccine, but how many people have been saved by a vaccine," said Moore. "That is the other side of the equation."

Abelt says it's important to weigh the risk of the vaccine against the risk of the virus.

"Before you take any kind of medication [ask yourself] what are the risks for me taking this medication and then what are my benefits," he said. "Then, the doctors are there to help."

And, Moore says he would risk it on the vaccine...especially to keep his patients safe.

"I may be the cause of a patient getting sick and dying and I think that is the hard thing to live with," he said.

No matter their decisions, all three say at risk groups should be vaccinated. And, the best thing for everyone to do is ask questions. Dr. Moore spoke at an H1N1 forum hosted by ETMC Monday. He talked about the prevention of H1N1 and how to recognize symptoms.

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