‘Tis the Season

I am opening up what could be a monstrous debate here – but I’m doing it with the knowledge that This Sisterhood is a community of  good willed women who respect and value that fact that we don’t all think the same thing.

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I read this article earlier about why you should not get a flu shot.  I realize that it is written from the far end of one perspective, and I know that we have all seen the ads and articles that recommend that everyone who is able, does receive a shot.  I struggle to find an article that balances the two perspectives well.  If any of you have one to share I certainly welcome it!

We, as a family, generally don’t get flu shots.  One year I did, because I worked in a long term care facility, and I felt like my not having a flu shot would show a reckless disregard for the elderly people in my care.  That year I got unbelievably sick and so did my then 2 year old daughter.  Likely unrelated, but it does make me wonder.

It is my opinion that there are times that a flu shot is beneficial (if you are around seniors and infants regularly, if a close connection has a compromised immune situation, etc…), but I definitely do not agree with it’s use as the primary defense against the flu.  I do not agree with the t.v and radio ads telling us all that we need to have it, and I cannot stand the “It’s okay to touch things again” messages that are circulating.

I want to know what you think:

Do you and yours get the flu shot each year?

Why or why not?

Did the article I linked to spark any curiosity, or new concerns for you?


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About Crystal

Crystal is a vivacious go-getter who has a knack for finding the Divine within the ordinary. She spends her time singing in the car, dancing in the living room, and trying to decide what to do when she grows up. Crystal lives and learns in Guelph, ON with her hunky hubby and two delightful daughters.

7 Responses to ‘Tis the Season

  1. elle says:

    No flu shots for us. Interestingly, neither of us have had influenza in years and years. I do think about it more carefully in this season of having a new little in the house, but I think there are safer ways to protect him and ourselves – like making sure we all practice good hygeine, get plenty of rest, eat well etc. I know many people who have become sick after having the shot. The shot *may* not cause it as those ads proclaim but it doesn’t neccessarily prevent it either, so we don’t see it as worth the risk.

  2. Heather says:

    None of us get it here in our house, with a baby and a toddler. I am not fond of the unknowns of what is in vaccines, although I’m also not fond of the scare tactics used by the anti-vaccine people. Vaccines are useful and have done wonderful things for society. But generally I would rather gain my immunization the natural way by getting the flu itself. It also makes me uncomfortable knowing the amount of money in the industry – if a corporation is making billions of dollars, of course they’re going to want everyone to get a shot every year regardless of whether it’s best for us.

  3. Crystal says:

    Well put ladies. Hand washing, and giving your body the natural things it needs to stay healthy are pretty simple and effective strategies. And no feeding into multi-gazillion dollar organizations.

  4. Rachel says:

    No flu shots here! For all the reasons everyone else mentioned.

  5. Aerin says:

    I’m usually reluctant to wade into the vaccination debate, even though I feel strongly about it, because I don’t have a nice concise response at the ready. However, I found this online and it says everything I wanted to say (but much more clearly), so I’ll just copy it here.

    Short version: if you are a healthy young adult, the flu itself probably won’t kill you, but there’s no harm in getting the flu shot. If you are in regular contact with people who could die from influenza (small children, elderly, immuno-comprimised), get the flu shot so you don’t spread the virus and kill someone else.


    Physician here. If I were you, I’d jump at the chance for a free flu shot.

    The reason there are so many misconceptions about the flu shot is largely due to the lay public’s understanding of Influenza.
    We have taken to calling any stomach bug or upper respiratory infection “a flu.” Stomach flu. 24 hour flu. Et cetera. It’s all bullshit. There are hundreds of mild viruses that cause these symptoms, none of them are Influenza, and none of them are meant to be reduced by getting the flu shot. So when your aunt Kathy complains that her flu shot didn’t work because she threw up for two days in February, slap her gently across the face. That wasn’t flu, Kathy.

    I’ve had Influenza A once in my life, and once was enough. Two weeks of headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting. Every day it felt like I had just woke up after being hit by a bus. I will never, EVER call any cold-with-some-squirts a “flu” anymore.

    Now. With that established, we still haven’t really figured out if you should get the shot or not.

    Advantages: Lower chance of acquiring Flu, maybe a less severe course if you do contract the infection.

    Disadvantages: sore deltoid for a day or two, maybe a mild cold-like illness for a few days.

    That’s essentially it. There’s a lot of polemic out there around vaccines, but most of it is hogwash, and the rest is mostly outdated concerns about chemicals that aren’t used any more.

    The flu vaccine contains no “live” virus whatsoever, nor does it contain any flu DNA. You cannot “get the flu” from a flu shot. What you can get is some side effects of your body mounting its immune response, hence the cold-like symptoms listed above.

    The flu vaccine does not contain thimerosal (exception- if you’re a senior citizen, they’ll still give you the thimerosal-containing vaccine. This is because you’re old, your immune system isn’t exactly top-notch anymore, and the addition of thimerosal helps potentiate the immune response. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it. Don’t even google it. There’s about as much evidence for vaccine levels of thimerosal being harmful, as there is evidence for wifi signals being used to control your mind.)
    Some haters will also bring up rare, 1/1million complications, like Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This condition is ultra rare, can occur with any viral illness or immune response, and is actually MORE likely if you get the flu than if you get the vaccine. The risk of dying if you catch flu is 1/10000. The risk of Guillain-Barre if you get the vaccine is 1/1000000. So you do the math.

    That said, if you’re a young adult who is immunocompetent and is not pregnant, your chances of serious disability or death from influenza are pretty low. We encourage vaccination of medical staff NOT because we’re worried about the health of our workers. We vaccinate medical workers so that they are less likely to contract flu, and then kill off half a geriatric ward when they spread it.

    I don’t know why you have access to a flu shot, but if it’s because of your own health issues or health-related employment, it’s a no-brainer. Get it. If you’re not in a risk group, or around risky individuals, it’s less clear what your choice should be.
    That’s all I got. Keep in mind that while I’m a medical professional, allergy/immunology is not my area. Now go do some decent googling and then decide for yourself!

  6. Aerin says:

    Sorry, just noticed a swear word in the item I posted above – my apologies! Feel free to edit it out.

    • Crystal says:

      No worries about the swear Aerin. I like a little shock value. Thanks for joining in the discussion! I am happy that you brought up one of my pet peeves here: People’s misuse of the whole flu concept. “There are hundreds of mild viruses that cause these symptoms, none of them are Influenza, and none of them are meant to be reduced by getting the flu shot. So when your aunt Kathy complains that her flu shot didn’t work because she threw up for two days in February, slap her gently across the face. That wasn’t flu, Kathy.” Poor Kathy.

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