Flu facts not hearsay

To the editor:

There has been quite a bit in the media recently about influenza (flu) disease and flu vaccine effectiveness and safety.

As the chairman of the Haywood County Health and Human Services Board, I feel compelled to state my case.

I worked for the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) for 33 years. Sixteen of those years were in the Division of Immunization. I was the federal director for both the Mississippi and Texas Immunization Programs and later was the CDC principal immunization advisor to 21 state programs.

When I read people’s inaccurate comments about flu shot safety and effectiveness I’m reminded of the quote by Edward Deming’s; “Without data it’s just someone’s opinion.” The CDC is where to get accurate information about flu vaccine. It’s not just an opinion, it’s the real truth.

CDC tells us flu shots are safe and have been given hundreds of millions of times safely over the years. The vaccine has been thoroughly researched for side effects and, yes, although complications can occur, they are generally very rare and are mild when they occur.

In December 2019, a 4-year-old unvaccinated child in Iowa was blinded because of a severe case of Influenza type B. My guess is the parents would have preferred a sore arm or mild fever after the flu shot rather than what the child is going through now.

Influenza season is generally highest from December to February, but it’s unpredictable and can last until May. Flu activity has been widespread across North Carolina this flu season showing an early spike in late December. There is another quote that comes to mind by the famous boxer Mike Tyson; “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the throat.”

Well Haywood County got an awful punch in December with three confirmed flu-related deaths according to our health department. Some people had no plan to get a flu shot until this news hit close to home.

I’m proud to say our health department responded with a strong public health message and an evening flu shot event. They had 54 appointments in a two-hour period and ended up giving 81 people flu shots.

They say no good deed goes unpunished. While the event was a success, there were protesters present claiming flu shots cause cancer among other mistruths. The truth is flu shots save life. Don’t take a chance on your health or the health of a love one, prevent influenza and its severe complications by getting a flu shot before it’s too late.

Paul Turner

Chairman, Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency Board

Seeking conservatives

To the editor:

On Jan. 16, Republican candidates for local, state and national offices, offered stump speeches to constituents. Among the speakers were two incumbent county commissioners and one candidate hoping to unseat one of them.

About three years ago, Haywood commissioners voted, 3-to-2, to approve construction of a new animal shelter. Kevin Ensley, now board chairman, voted in favor of the shelter and is seeking re-election.

There was much talk from all candidates about political conservatism. So, after the three vying for a seat on the commissioners’ board spoke, I asked them whether, in retrospect, the decision to build the shelter, as it was proposed, was in the best interest of the taxpayers.

The shelter is, in my opinion, a multi-million dollar, elaborate edifice to ego. A suitable, functional facility could have been built for far less money. I have yet to meet a dog that could tell me it prefers life in a beautiful cathedral, as opposed to residing in a less attractive place that is equally as safe and comfortable.

Ensley defended his vote, and appallingly asserted he would do it again, given the chance. Candidate Terry Ramey then stood and opined that the design and cost of the shelter was indeed exorbitant (my word), adding, that the new shelter, for all its magnificence, can only accommodate 15 more dogs than did the old shelter. I presume he knows that to be true, and I do not dispute it.

Commissioner Brandon Rogers declined to address the issue, at all; and to him I say: When a man seeks an office wherein he will decide how to spend tax dollars, he should stand either for an issue, or against it; but he should never remain seated.

I do not know Kevin Ensley, personally, and I bear him no ill will. But I take exception to his claim to conservatism. Spending other people’s money is an easy thing to do. But apparently, resisting the desires of a small but vocal group of social activists, as was the case with the animal shelter, is not.

Scott Muirhead


Appreciate the fairness

To the editor:

My name is Stephanie Parsons. I am a mother of a vaccine-injured child. I myself was also injured by vaccines. I am a part of the HEAL WNC group. I would just like to take the time to say thank you for your honest reporting and coverage of this issue. It is so hard to get anyone to hear us or even acknowledge our stories especially the media.

Thank you so much for covering how he (Patrick Johnson, public health director) treated my fellow advocates. The hate speech is very real and very strong right now.

We are consumers who were injured and now just want to provide true informed consent. I, myself, have read every vaccine insert and numerous studies proving that the risks far outweigh any benefits to vaccination. I made it my passion in life to inform others of the dangers after my son almost died and after my decline in health after receiving the Tdap, that I was coerced into getting.

If only I would have had a me or a Melanie Willams out there giving true informed consent, the first three years of motherhood would not have been stolen from me and my children.

Stephanie Parsons


Thanks for the generosity

To the editor:

The Salvation Army was able to help 450 families during Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also visited and provided Christmas cheer and gifts to over 1,900 residents of nursing homes.

During the distribution of the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets to our needy citizens of Haywood and surrounding counties, my heart was deeply moved.

Moms and dads, some in tears, thanked volunteers and myself over and over for the emergency assistance they were receiving.

One mother about to leave got out of her car with tears in her eyes and hugged my neck and thanked me that her daughter got the bicycle she hoped for.

Without the time and support of the caring people in this community, we could not have reached out to these families. Many needs were met and many blessings were received because of your help. Thank you Haywood County. You helped us to do the most good.

The Salvation Army provides emergency assistance 365 days a year, helping people with food, clothing, heat and electricity, medical needs and shelter because of people May God bless you!

Major David Cope

Corps Officer

Waynesville Regional Coordinater

Breaking rank

To the editor:

Let’s see now. Chuck Shumer is encouraging Republican Senators to “break ranks” and vote for impeachment. I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall voting for a rank. I voted for a representative.

It’s interesting that several Democratic representatives in the House reported that they had been pressured to vote for impeachment or funds from the Congressional Campaign Committee would be witheld from them. Does the term quid-pro-quo ring a bell with anyone?

Bruce Gardner


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