Union Democrat staff

Get your vaccines

To the editor:

In his Oct. 9 letter on flu vaccine safety issues, Pete Eakle advises readers not to receive vaccinations.

I have been a licensed pharmacist for 39 years and practice in Sonora. I receive a seasonal flu vaccination every year. I cannot receive the recently released nasal vaccine for H1N1 ("swine flu") because of my age - I am over 49. I will stand in line when I can receive it as an injection.

I have very recently received a vaccination for shingles (OK, I am also over 60). The preservative thimerosal is not in single-dose injections, because they don't have to be preserved; they're single dose.

I think it's a safe preservative anyway, as does the FDA. If you're a senior like I am, forget the Internet hype and get your vaccinations as recommended by your physician.

John Frank, pharmacist

Sonora Regional Medical Center

Medicare is safe

To the editor:

Re: Kathy Rubinstein's Sept. 29 letter, "Protect Medicare."

Everyone should be entitled to health care. Unfortunately, America is the only wealthy, developed nation that provides health care only to those who can afford it. Medicare was developed in the 1960s to help seniors cover their medical cost, a safety net to prevent bankruptcy and/or impoverishment due to catastrophic illness. Medicare does not cover dental work except for medically necessary surgery. Medicare does cover cataract removal and limited examinations of the eyes. There have been no significant "cuts" in either of those.

When a doctor orders lab work, there is no waiting for approval. The diagnostic code for the procedure specifies whether or not Medicare will pay. There is a code for every possible procedure. If Medicare will not pay, the patient will be advised that if the procedure is performed, he or she will have to pay for it. For medically necessary surgeries, there is no wait for government approval. The only wait may be getting the procedure fit into the local hospital schedule and/or waiting for the patient to get healthy enough to survive the procedure.

In some cases, managed care plan (HMOs, etc.) members may have to wait for plan approval(not government) to see specialists or receive specific procedures.

The cuts in Medicare that President Obama has suggested are primarily the elimination of incentive payment to most of the managed care plans. He considers this a huge over payment over the last few years. This should not affect most Medicare recipients.

For the record, I am a volunteer Medicare counselor and have been counseling people with Medicare problems for the last nine years.

Larry Bodiford


Trivia thanks

To the editor:

Thanks to Tuolumne County library patrons who attended the 11th annual Trivia Bee Saturday night. The Opera Hall rang with their cheers and goodwill as ten teams competed for top honors.

The Democrat gave our event sterling publicity, with one serious omission. No mention was made of the Emblem Club, whose members have provided delicious food for this event for many years. The Bee wouldn't be a success without them.

Proceeds from the evening support all literacy services at the library, main and all branches.

Joan Bergsund, president

Friends of the Tuolumne

County Library


Slow down

To the editor:

In response to "Roads in need" (Letters, Roger P. Hanlon, Oct. 5):

The lack of any shoulders on county roads makes it dangerous for pedestrians and bike riders, as well as stalled cars. This is not the biggest problem.

People need to slow down. Then maybe they could see bike riders, etc. And to let you know, the county's main concern is public safety. Not sure where you are getting information.

Christine Leers