Flu Shots: Tis the season

The season is upon us, yes time to roll up your sleeves and take it. The flu shot that is, or if needles aren’t your thing, there are other options such as the flu mist. The sooner the better too, it can take up to two weeks to become fully immunized to these strains of flu. The shot is minimally painful, while the mist involves no pain. So what is your excuse???

On excuses, I’ve heard many if not all of them.

One of the most common excuses:

“Last time I got the flu shot, it gave me the flu” WRONG!

Maybe you got the flu in the intervening two weeks or maybe you had some other infection or maybe you are just lying for some other reasons, either way you’re wrong and your objections are actually reason to GET the flu shot earlier than now!!

Next we have:

“There are a lot of serious side effects from the vaccine” WRONG!

While pain at the injection site along with some redness and possibly a low-grade fever are the most common, these pale in comparison to getting the flu as anyone who has ever had it will attest to. There is also a risk a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome. The CDC has very good information regarding this here.

Another worthless excuse is:

“I have natural immunity” WRONG!

Very few people, if any, have a natural immunity to the flu. Add to that the flu changes from year to year (evolution anyone?) and any natural immunity you have is nil. The I don’t get sick routine is a rather stupid excuse as well. Lets try out that logic with something else. I don’t get into car accidents, so I don’t need to wear my seatbelt, genius!! Here is another, more insane example. I don’t get shot when I play russian roulette, so it’s ok for me. Still want to tout that as your excuse?

Still more:

“It’s better to build your body’s natural immunities”

Sometimes face palms don’t do the stupidity of some these statements justice….. Rather than combat this by saying something to the effect of THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT A VACCINE DOES, WITHOUT GETTING YOU SICK! I’ll just say words like polio, smallpox, mumps, rubella, tetanus, measles, varicella, etc. Wonder how people with any of these conditions feel about their body’s natural immunities, I would think not very well.

Next we get into a whole new class of objections. These deserve a class by themselves, because while they are still misinformed opinions without scientific basis, their claims can lead to some disastrous outcomes. These would be called the anti vaxers.  Steven Novella writes a great definition of an anti vaxer on his blog Science Based Medicine here.

This group of people actively try to dissuade the use of any vaccine due to numerous inaccurate claims that range from trying to link autism, multiple diseases and mercury poisoning to vaccines. These claims are wrong. These people are dangerous. See the recent measles outbreak at the mega church in Texas. Phil Plait, one of my favorite astronomers and science popularizer, has a great article detailing the incident here. He also writes about Jenny McCarthy and her anti vaccination status along with her new position here.

Also this post wouldn’t be complete without one of my favorite vaccination videos from Penn and Teller here.

The bottom line is there are very few reasons not to get your flu shot. For your health and the health of those around you, get vaccinated, NOW!!

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