Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg Receive Praise from a Pharmacist

Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg Receive Praise from a Pharmacist

Written by Eric Geyer
Published 8 January 2019

Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg recently made news by providing free flu shots to everyone in attendance at the Golden Globe Awards on January 6th.  “You know you wore a sleeveless gown for a reason!” Oh said as fake nurses went around to attempt to give people flu shots.  Samberg even suggested anti-vaxxers put something on their heads and they would be left alone.

This type of pro-vaccination coverage, and the collective calling out of the anti-vax movement is exactly what America needs. Vaccines are one of the best ways we have in preventing disease, particularly viral infections like influenza, or the flu. According to the CDC, more than 79,000 people died from the flu in the 2017-2018 flu season, and nearly 1 million were hospitalized.  A staggering 48.8 million people also caught the flu, with 22.7 million seeking some sort of care from a healthcare provider.  This makes last flu season the worst one since 1976. Rough estimates show this past flu season cost us all around $15.4 billion. Preventing the spread of the flu is a big deal.

To prepare for the 2018-2019 flu season, many chain pharmacies switched over to only giving the 4-strain flu vaccine due to the increased effectiveness. Here is a list of places you can get your shot.  This year the strains used in the flu vaccine were updated to include one of last year’s strong stains, which should make this vaccine more effective in preventing the flu.  As a pharmacist myself, I’m glad to see the CDC taking this issue seriously and addressing the concerns from last year to make sure this year we are all better prepared.

Aside from just the attention Oh and Samberg drew to the flu vaccine, I am pleased they called out the anti-vaxxers in the room.  Preventable diseases, once thought to be all but eradicated, like measles are making a comeback due to lower vaccination rates. Small reductions in vaccination rates, as little as 5%, can cost us all millions in public sector spending alone, not counting the toll on productivity, long term health concerns and more. Even anti-vaccination groups have been unable to maintain their narrative; studies they have funded have failed to link vaccines to autism.  Here is the full study SafeMinds released in 2015. Look at who is credited in the acknowledgements on page 6. Even autism advocacy groups have released studies disproving the anti-vaxxers.

With so much conclusive evidence that vaccines are effective at stopping the spread of disease and that they are overwhelmingly safe (see the websites of the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Health Children), why is the anti-vaccination movement so strong?  This uninformed movement keeps making extremely mercurial arguments (see what I did there?) that are not based on science or any prevailing evidence.  Even their poster child, Jenny McCarthy, has switched up her argument after organizations she backed were repeatedly discredited. And in an interesting bit of hypocrisy, McCarthy accepts injections of botulinum toxin, the most potent toxin known to medicine, to change her physical appearance.

I’m glad Samberg and Oh made the science-based argument they did for the flu vaccine.  Smart people who know the science must use their roles in society to advocate for what is proven to work.  I know this may be just a blip, a moment in time even, but any sort of recognition of evidence-based science is much needed in a time filled with so much misinformation and so many falsehoods.

(Banner image credit: NBCUniversal, via Getty Images

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