Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My new article at Slate - egg allergies and flu vaccines ARE compatible

I'm really proud to have authored the following piece on Slate.  Vaccines are tried and true at preventing a multitude of potentially deadly infectious diseases and have a long history of safety.  Are there adverse events?  Of course, but they are rare.  The benefits far outweigh the risks (see the infographic below).  While the flu vaccine varies in efficacy every year (some years are better than others), it is the best means we have to prevent flu, which can and does kill thousands every year and puts many more in the hospital.  It is especially important for those with asthma. 

Please know that I want to present everyone with facts so that they, along with healthcare providers, make informed decisions.  People can and do rarely have anaphylaxis to vaccines, which may have nothing to do with the miniscule amounts of egg proteins.  In controlled clinical trials, over 4,000 individuals with egg allergies have received the flu vaccine without anaphylaxis.  On top of this, the MMR vaccine is also made using eggs and is routinely given without issue.  It is important that as many of us who can receive vaccines do, in order to protect not only ourselves, but those who can't receive it (e.g. - those who have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccines more generally).

Vaccines are often suggested as a cause behind allergies, autism, etc.  There has been no direct causal evidence to support this.  A lot has changed in our modern world (maybe some not for the better), but I fear going back to the pre-vaccine era.  Keep the discussion going!  This is an important one to have.

vaccine infographic created by Leon Farrant, as appeared in Forbes -

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Costco Perspective

Sometimes I like to take a step back from the daily grind and focus on the "big picture."  It only seems appropriate that my trip to an uber-sized warehouse store could help with this "big picture" endeavor.  As the New Year has come and gone, it's good to periodically put things in perspective and reflect - how far we have come, where we are now, what may lie ahead in this allergy journey.

The start of the allergy journey was a bit like my arrival at Costco -

I make sure I've got my shopping bags, hop out of the car, turn to press the button on the remote to lock the doors, and begin my stroll to the store entrance.  I clear the back end of my car, and... holy bleepety, bleep, bleep, bleep.  I almost get bowled over by the white Suburban with fancy silver rims on a mission to get that coveted parking spot next to the store entrance.  Geesh.  I didn't see that one coming.  An inocuous day like every other can completely change things (thankfully I didn't get run over).  The day that my son had his first anaphylactic reaction certainly changed life in ways I couldn't have imagined.

As the rush of adrenaline subsides, I show my membership card to the petite, smiling gray-haired lady only to be greeted by this: