Should You Get the Flu Shot? 7 Things to Seriously Consider

It’s that time of year– Pumpkin-everything season! But also flu shot season.

This yearly vaccine is a sore subject for a lot of people. Among many questions, the biggest one is whether it’s really necessary to get the flu shot. Don’t make your decision based on what you think you know about the vaccine, what you’ve heard from other people, or what you’ve seen in the media. Get the facts, first! Before even beginning to uncover any answers, let’s expose some common myths and misconceptions about the flu vaccine.

flu shot
“I never get the flu, so I don’t need the flu shot.”

So you’ve been lucky. That’s great! But did you know you could be carrying the influenza virus without symptoms and then pass it to someone with weaker immune system? …Someone like young children, newborns, elderly, anyone with chronic disease.

“Every time I get the flu shot, I get sick”

This one is really common and the truth is, that the flu shot is not without side effects. Side effects include: itchy eyes, headache, fever, fatigue and cough. These kinds of symptoms are not the actual flu, though, because it’s not possible to get the illness from an inactivated vaccine like this one. If you do get influenza shortly after receiving the vaccine, it could be because you were already infected with the virus. The vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to be effective.

The flu vaccine doesnt really work”

I partly agree with this one. It’s said to be a “good, but not perfect” vaccine, by experts. That’s because it’s really only about 60% effective. Every year, scientists try to match the vaccine strains to the actual flu strains the best they can but they don’t always get it exactly right. It’s up to each individual to decide whether to increase their chances of preventing the flu or not.

 

“Flu shot has many dangerous chemicals in it”  

I worry about these chemicals, too and wonder what the long term effects are.  Flu vaccines contain chemical ingredients like thimerosal, mercury, formaldehyde, and Triton X-100.

Thimerosal is used to prevent bacterial contamination of the vaccine vial. It is broken down into a mercury chemical form. There has been a lot of controversy over whether thimerosal & mercury are linked to certain effects on children, but no study has definitively, without a doubt been able to prove it’s dangers. It’s used in tiny amounts in the flu shot, but I prefer to steer clear of it if I can. Just ask for a preservative-free flu shot.

Formaldehyde is the stuff used to preserve cadavers. Sounds gross, I know. I’m about to blow your mind with this fun fact though… Many fruits and vegetables naturally produce more formaldehyde than the amount found in the flu vaccine.

Triton X-100 is often confused with propylene glycol (anti-freeze) which is incorrect. There is no anti-freeze in this vaccine. It’s a splitting agent to help break down the inactivated virus in the vaccine.

 

“If I get the flu I’ll just take antibiotics”

Influenza is a virus, meaning that antibiotics won’t even make a dent if you catch this. There are two antivirals designed to fight the flu but they must be taken within 48hrs of symptoms which is challenging considering you first have to see your doctor, then likely have to wait for the pharmacy to order this specialty medication, and finally, recover from the shock of how expensive it is. Often the antivirals don’t work that well anyway. Yikes!

 

Getting the flu isn’t that bad.

Some lucky souls will only be sick for a day or two, but the majority of people are down for the count as long as a week or two. Can you really afford to be sick that long? Even worse, is that flu can lead to many complications such as respiratory issues, asthma exacerbations, pneumonia, and more. Every year thousands of people (of all ages & even “healthy” people) are hospitalized due to influenza.

 

“I can protect myself from the flu with a good diet and hygiene (like regular hand washing).” 

While I think doing these things are always important for staying healthy and keeping your immune system strong, it’s not a guarantee. The flu virus is airborne, so it can be transmitted by someone sneezing or coughing nearby. I believe in the power of a healthy, balanced diet to help you fight off disease, even if it may not fully protect you from the illness. Living a healthy lifestyle and practicing good hygiene might lower your risk of flu-related complications or duration of the flu.

To learn more about the flu vaccine and which populations and age groups are at highest risk for contracting influenza, check out the CDC website.

It’s ultimately your call whether to get this vaccine, but realize it affects other people, too. Take time to think about the possible consequences of your choice. Now that you know the real deal on the flu shot you can make your own, informed decision about it.

 

>>> Comment below on what your opinion of the flu shot is.

 

Best, 

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19 thoughts on “Should You Get the Flu Shot? 7 Things to Seriously Consider

  1. You wrote a very good article, as an RN who has worked Emergency Rooms and Hospice I can tell you how devastating having the flu is…it can be very deadly to the elderly who are often health compromised. I can also speak from my experience on a year there was a vaccine shortage. I didn’t get my vaccine until the second or third week of December. I awoke Christmas morning suddenly sick and running a high temp. I made it to the ER I worked at right away as I knewi must have contracted the flu before the vaccine helped my immune system. I was hospitalized for 2 weeks, with flu A& flu B andto top it off I also had double pneumonia. Luckily with my pre-existing heart condition I didn’t suffer more devastating complications. Moral of the story is I get the flu shot every year to protect myself, the people at the hospital, my family which include elderly parents and grandchildren.

    • Can I just say what a aid to find someone who truly knows what theyre speaking about on the internet. You positively know how you can convey a problem to light and make it important. Extra indiuidvals need to read this and understand this facet of the story. I cant believe youre no more popular because you positively have the gift.

  2. Great Q and A. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for those among us who are immuno-suppressed (those taking cancer treatments, for example). My husband is a physician so we always take ours. 19 years ago I did not get a flu shot because I hated needles (yes, really, that was my reason). We had a 2 year old and I was pregnant. 2 year old and I went on a plane trip and he came home with a fever and was achy for 2 days. As he recovered I suddenly felt very weak and feverish. I was sick for 6 weeks and pregnant, so there was not much medicine I could take. I have never missed my flu shot since.

  3. I loved these facts! I just got mine last week. I have a baby and don’t want to take any chances with her getting it. But, I know it can be a sore topic.

  4. Wow this is perfect. I actually just got into a huge argument with someone about why they should get the flu shot and get vaccinated. I just graduated college with a double major in biochemistry and microbiology (so I am pretty well informed) and they just wouldn’t hear my side at all. According to them, their children are going to get autism from it (even though that has been disproved over and over again — and the doctor that stated it stripped of his license!). I appreciate this 🙂

  5. I work at a hospital where it is mandatory. I’m not sure how beneficial the shot actually is, and worry about putting anything foreign into my body if I don’t have to, but most of all it really annoys me that I don’t get to make the choice for myself

  6. Great post! I think young and healthy people dont need it. Older people and people with bad immune system might need it. I like to protect against it natural ways with eating healthy all the time. I am from Norway and get the flu every year, but it doesnt affect my body that bad as I need the flu shot.

  7. I haven’t went and had the flu shot for several years because of the chemicals and so far the flu hasn’t affected me. Will re-read and think about this year.

  8. I have recently in recent years gotten the flu shot and notice the difference if i have gotten the flu, it is not as severe, so I get one yearly now.

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