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Some things you can vaccinate against

Saying dumb things isn’t one of them.

CM Jack Christie

As the council considered a proposal Wednesday to accept $3.1 million in federal funding for childhood immunizations, Councilman Jack Christie voiced his opposition to the measure, apparently conflating it with flu vaccinations.

“I’m going to vote against this,” Christie said before the 15-1 vote. “You don’t die from the flu.”

Christie backed down somewhat from his comment on Friday. What he meant to say, he said, was that “People should not die from the flu.”

“First of all, that’s $3 million that the federal government doesn’t really have,” Christie said of the funding proposal. “It’s borrowed money we eventually have to pay back. But more important is the media’s embellishment of the extreme fear of encouraging flu vaccinations.

“Every year there’s going to be a flu,” he said, “and vaccines create synthetic immunity, which does not trump natural immunity to disease.”

Christie, who said he has never taken a flu shot, suggested the medical community should focus more attention on prescription drug abuse that claims thousands of lives annually in the U.S.

Dr. Joshua Septimus, associate professor of internal medicine at Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, called Christie’s comments irresponsible.

“That is totally wrong,” he said. “The flu kills anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands in the U.S. alone. There is very good evidence that the flu shot reduces deaths from the flu. That flu vaccine is a very low risk and with very high potential benefits.”

So much here to deal with. First, the idea that not accepting this funding is fiscally responsible is ludicrous. This money has already been appropriated. Not accepting it doesn’t mean it magically gets transmuted from a liability to an asset on the federal budget balance sheet. It means it gets to be granted to some other city. There are sometimes good reasons to turn down federal funding, but this is money for childhood immunizations. Spending money to keep kids healthy is about the best spending we can do. It’s an investment with a big payoff, both in terms of spending less later on sick kids, and the greater lifetime earnings potential of kids who grew up healthy and in some cases who got to grow up at all.

Second, the bit about the medical community needing to focus more on prescription drug abuse is a complete non sequitur. Last I checked, the medical community was big enough to handle more than one thing at a time. It’s also unlikely to change its priorities based on one screwball City Council voting down a grant for childhood immunizations. If you want to send a message to the American Medical Association, writing a letter to them is probably the better approach.

Finally, and not to put too fine a point on it, but even Helena Brown voted to accept these funds. Let me say that again: Even Helena Brown voted to accept these funds. When you’re off on an island that even Helena Brown isn’t inhabiting, you need to check your coordinates, know what I mean?

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10 Comments

  1. Ron in Houston says:

    Well, the guy is a chiropractor. Personally, I find chiropractors useful, but many of them are very high on the woo factor. I know many professional skeptics hate them.

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    I have to comment before I go eat my egg whites. My wife says I have to start eating better lose weight or take flu shots. So let me comment on this as if I was a fiscal conservative…hmmmm. Charles says:

    “This money has already been appropriated. Not accepting it doesn’t mean it magically gets transmuted from a liability to an asset on the federal budget balance sheet. It means it gets to be granted to some other city.”

    I couldn’t agree more. If you are really concerned about how tax payer dollars are spent then you should probably spend your time following up on where the funds actually go. Make sure the kids actually get the flu shots. I mean “come on man”. $3.1 million buys a whole lot of flu shots. How much is a flu shot? Lets say a flu shot is a $100. Thats 31,000 kids.

    Lets say you open up the George R. Brown convention center and load it up with doctors for free flu shots. (They donate their time because it is for the kids. They will do it because all doctors are saints) The media gets in and tells everybody about it. (again the kids thing). All the volunteers who are no longer feeding the homeless now go out and round up as many kids as they can. (finally they get to feel good again) I bet you you couldn’t even come close to giving out 31,000 flu shots. What will we do with the extra money? That is what I would be watching. Thats just me though.

    Charles, if I had the link to the girl from Willy Wonka that you put up to describe my rant one time I would attach it here. When you made that post you had me and my whole family rolling. We thought it was very funny.

  3. Anne Galbraith says:

    Unbelievably irrresponsible. Why doesn’t Jack Christie walk himself into Ben Taub or Texas Children’s and talk to the head of infectious disease? He needs to be educated. The flu isn’t a bad cold, it can lead to respiratory failure and kill those with vulnerable immune systems, like infants, children and the eldery.

    Where’s his evidence to support his conspiracy theory? As soon as he produces a peer reviewed study published in a medical journal, he can speak to it. Oh, there are none? Didn’t think so.

  4. joshua bullard says:

    one must remember that jack christie only won his race because laurie robinson came in to split the ticket and force jack into a run off-head up he would not have over come the jolonda jones ticket,however , from my understanding he will be facing only one challenger this year, and jack will fall short of the 50% to win.

    joshua ben bullard

  5. Ross says:

    Paul, the money is for childhood immunizations, not just flu shots.

    I bet Christie hasn’t seen anyone die from the flu. Or any other disease prevented by vaccination. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be spouting this crap. Next thing you know, he will claim the shots are a conspiracy to damage our vital bodily fluids.

  6. Jonas says:

    As if there wasn’t enough stupid in his comments, the idea that there is something called ‘synthetic immunity’ that is somehow inferior to ‘natural immunity’? WTF?

  7. Paul Kubosh says:

    Ross,

    I know. I was trying to make a point.

  8. Mainstream says:

    I must be a very rare Houstonian who knows both Josh Septimus and Jack Christie. It worries me that so many conservatives are buying into the unfounded claims that vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they prevent from spreading.

  9. Ross says:

    @mainstream, you are so right. There are so many fewer deaths from disease these days that lots of folks have no clue as to how bad they can be. My Dad, who is 83, can recall deaths of other kids from whooping cough, diphtheria, flu, and a few other diseases we just don’t see these days. Vaccines work, no doubt.

  10. [...] clear that director Lauren Greenfield doesn’t. What you can do is deplore them.”“Spending money to keep kids healthy is about the best spending we can do. It’€™s an investment with a big payoff, both in terms of spending less later on sick kids, [...]

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