Around the Island

Richard’s almanac: senior scoop

I just learned that the AARP Driver Safety Program will once again be held at the Senior center on Monday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You must call to register and I urge you to do it quickly because these classes fill up quickly. The cost for AARP members is $20, nonmembers is $25. Call 631-749-1059 to sign up. The class is good for three years of getting discounts on your auto insurance. It’s well worth it. I took the class two years ago and am still saving. 

The Senior Center is also sponsoring a trip to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead for the Silver Circle on Wednesday, Oct. 16. The cost is $15 per person and gets you lunch, beverages and admission to the aquarium and the butterfly exhibit. Just meet at the center at 10 a.m. Call to sign up. 

The aquarium is a fascinating place — I’ve taken my grandkids there many times and always learn something new. I particularly like the shark exhibit, being able to get so close to them only separated by glass.

On another subject, after I wrote in last week’s column about the vaccination question, senior center director Laurie Fanelli passed on information to me concerning misconceptions about vaccines. Apparently many non-facts have been spread about the dangers of getting vaccinated.

One is called the “Overload Immune System” misconception. This comes from the belief that it can be harmful if kids are given too many vaccines at once. However, studies have shown that recommended vaccines are no more likely to cause adverse effects when given in combination than when administered separately.

Then there’s the “Disappeared Diseases” misconception. This assumes that because a disease disappears because of vaccines, they are no longer necessary. Far from the truth, according to experts at the CDC. Diseases from other parts of the world could be introduced, and if vaccination rates drop, these imported cases can begin to spread again.

The “More Vaccinated Than Unvaccinated People Get Sick” misconception is based on the fact that during an outbreak the number of vaccinated individuals who get sick will often outnumber the unvaccinated people who get sick. That’s because vaccines are not 100 % effective and so few people avoid vaccines in the first place.

And the “Hygiene and Better Nutrition Are Responsible for the  Reduction in Disease Rate, Not Vaccination” misconception.

The CDC figures show that the best evidence that vaccines and not hygiene and nutrition are responsible for the sharp drop in disease and death rates is chickenpox.

Rates would have dropped long before the introduction of the vaccine which was not available until the mid-1990s. Before the vaccine was introduced in 1995, there were about 4 million cases per year in the US. By 2004, the incidence dropped by about 85%.

So one can see that the CDC and current medical science are on the side of vaccinations. 

And I have had my own experience with reactions to vaccines. I am allergic to tetanus vaccine which I mentioned before. The word was that if you stepped on a rusty nail you were at risk and had to get a shot. I had a terrible reaction as a kid. Later on in my 20s I had a large dirty nail go into my foot. I went to the emergency room and told the physician my background. So he proceeded to sterilize the wound. It was very painful. I think he thought I was also allergic to novocaine.