Avoid boosters for chronic fatigue. It isn’t worth the hassle.

Elaine Hunt: My recommendation is none of the above. Look, chronic fatigue is an awful thing—and I can only imagine the agony of every individual who has been diagnosed with it—but I think there’s…

Avoid boosters for chronic fatigue. It isn’t worth the hassle.

Elaine Hunt: My recommendation is none of the above.

Look, chronic fatigue is an awful thing—and I can only imagine the agony of every individual who has been diagnosed with it—but I think there’s such a thing as too much treatment.

Take acute-fatigue syndrome, a condition that is medically indistinguishable from chronic fatigue. In general, just two vaccinations are routinely recommended for children who are in school: a polio vaccine (fortunately, most of the U.S. doesn’t get polio anymore); and the chickenpox vaccine (because it protects against measles, mumps and rubella).

Now consider the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and other “experts” for youths who are active on schools and athletic teams.

I know this sounds crazy to most parents, but unfortunately, it’s true.

In 1982, the World Health Organization made a decision that schools should offer children who participated in sports boosters shots. This was done primarily to prevent cancer and other health problems—but most people think it was just to let kids take care of their noses.

That’s nonsense. When you give a booster to a child, you’re giving a blanket immunization—the kid doesn’t have to be experiencing the state of actual chronic fatigue in order to get it. (In contrast, after prolonged persistent fatigue, the CDC, through JAMA Pediatrics, has determined that persistent chronic fatigue syndrome is itself a chronic condition.) The CDC says that booster boosters have no additional effect on the condition in either children or adults.

So that’s where I think we should start: with no boosters. If an individual or their child is showing symptoms that persist for more than two weeks, then the condition may not be worth taking action on. If it is, then a booster booster is fine. I don’t think it would be any good to prevent or otherwise slow down influenza, for example, if you can’t tell if you have it. If you’re walking around with a cornea problem, even a gel fillings won’t fix it.

Get a separate treatment program if the diagnosis is severe, or if the test is not positive but sufficient for an alert decision. But keep in mind that a booster booster is not a treatment; it is supposed to reduce exposure to another vaccine.

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