From the December 2003 Idaho Observer:

FluMist dealer intimidated by one woman's question

by Kay Philpot

I wanted to share with your readers a personal experience I had due to my concern about being exposed to the live viruses in the new FluMist vaccine:

I wanted to take some pictures to the one-hour photo in Kroger's [supermarket] today, but remembered they are listed as giving the FluMist vaccine. So, I called them and was transferred to the pharmacy.

I spoke with a pharmacist and asked her what precautions the store was taking to protect the immuno-compromised from the live flu vaccine being shed by FluMist recipients. She said (get this!), “The manufacturer has provided us with a wall barrier to put up.”

Stifling my laugh I said, “What happens when those people go out into the store and are sneezing on the groceries?”  She paused and asked me to hold on. I'm on hold for several minutes. When she came back she said, “The manufacturer tells us that even when a person sneezes after getting the FluMist, it has already been absorbed and won't be spread.” 

I responded, “Then why does the package insert say under 'Precautions' that 'FluMist recipients should avoid close contact with immuno-compromised individuals for at least 21 days'?”

She again paused and said, “Hold on, I'll check into that.”  I'm on hold for at least five minutes and then get disconnected.  So I called back and got a different pharmacist who won't let me speak to the original one.  So I asked her the same question.  I told her I am concerned for myself (asthma) and those of us who shouldn't be in contact with FluMist recipients.  She again spouts about the wall barrier.

I said, “But this is an airborne virus.” (Double DUH!!) 

She said the manufacturer has assured them that, even if someone sneezes on them when they give the vaccine, that it has already been absorbed (in nanoseconds I assume!) and that they themselves shouldn't be concerned. HA! They may be fools, but I'm not!

She tries to tell me that only those who live in close contact 24/7 need be concerned (why then, if it isn't spread after it's given?)  They're contradicting themselves coming and going!  I asked her what the difference was with me being in a store where people are sneezing all over the produce that I may be purchasing and living with someone who is doing the same?

She said it's no different than going into a doctor's office where it's been given. (Excuse me, but even if I did go to one, I don't buy my groceries at the doctor's office!)

She had no answers.  All she had to offer was what the “manufacturer” had assured them was okay and she said “Long term studies show it is safe to the population.”  But right before that she says they haven't even given any FluMist there at Kroger's and she doesn't know anyplace that has actually given it because it is so expensive and because it's brand new no one expects it to be used anyway!

Idiots. They have no idea what they are doing and when questioned they babble on and spout what the “manufacturer” has told them to say without truly knowing the facts.

This is the real kicker: After talking with the 2nd pharmacist ad nauseum about the risks to the immuno-compromised, she says, “Well, the worst thing that could happen to you is you would get the flu.”  It was then I realized I was up against a genius, thanked her for her time and hung up.

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