Cleveland Clinic doctor apologizes after rant against flu vaccine that left him feeling unwell
On Friday afternoon, a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, the large academic hospital in Ohio, unleashed a salvo of pointed words toward vaccines. The source of Daniel Neides’ vitriol was a flu shot that left him feeling unwell.
The physician was particularly incensed, as he wrote in a column at Cleveland.com, because although the vaccine was billed as preservative-free it contained the compound formaldehyde. He insinuated that the organic compound was the cause of a 48-hour malaise that kept him in bed and out of the office.
His column caught social media fire. Much of the attention was negative, as Stat News and others noted. Several of the physician’s peers publicly took the article to task. “Vaccine & toxin fear mongering? Post-truth medicine,” tweeted University of Ottawa family medicine professor Yoni Freedhoff.
“Wow, this quack is the head of an institute of an actual medical center?” added Vinay Prasad, an Oregon Health and Sciences University oncologist. The Cleveland Clinic is not just any medical center. It is renowned, particularly in the field of cardiac medicine.
And in a statement later communicated via hospital representative to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Neides offered an apology. “I apologize and regret publishing a blog that has caused so much concern and confusion for the public and medical community,” he said. “I fully support vaccinations and my concern was meant to be positive around the safety of them.”
It is true that certain flu vaccines contain formaldehyde. The compound inactivates viruses, so that the microbes contained within a vaccine cannot cause illness. (It is not used as a preservative in vaccines.) To Neides, formaldehyde in vaccines represented another “toxic burden” on the populace.
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