Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Flu Shot.

I've been seeing a lot of talk about the flu shot on blogs and message boards. And seriously, I don't get the big deal!

1. You don't get sick from the flu shot. SO many people will tell you the story that the one time they did get the shot, they fell deathly ill. The flu shot is a dead virus. You cannot get sick from it. You can have a small reaction from it, yes, but falling "on your deathbed" sick? It's not going to happen. It's like telling someone a dead dog bit you. No it didn't. The dog you happened to try to pet immediately after seeing the dead dog was the one that bit you. It's called "coincidence".

2. Just because you've never gotten the flu before, doesn't mean you are some super hero anti-flu person. You simply haven't been exposed.

3. "I got a flu shot one year and that was the year I got the flu!". The flu shot contains just a handful of strains based on what the CDC expects to be the strain out there the following year. It's a crap shoot. If you got the flu, you got a strain the shot wasn't protecting you from.

4. Have you ever really had the flu? It's freaking terrible. And many, yes, MANY people DIE from the flu. Could you imagine the knowledge of finding out you were suffering (or about to die) from a strain that the flu shot was protecting people from that year?

5. Pregnant women in their 2nd trimester and on should simply get it without question. It will protect your baby after he's born and that's just an insurance policy I wouldn't want to lapse.

I understand there are still a lot of people under the influence of the whole "vaccinations are evil" thing. And while I believe the scientific proof that vaccines don't cause all the horrible things some groups suggest, I do believe the decision should still be up to an individual. Do I think the reason there aren't a crap load of people in wheelchairs due to polio in the united states is because of a successful vaccine? Yes. Do I think there is a real chance of something like a measles outbreak happening in the US and many children will die because they weren't vaccinated? Yes, unfortunately I do think this will happen. But do I think it's up to a parent to make the decision? I sure do.

And if the above is the reason you don't want a flu shot, then that is fine. But don't go telling people fallacies like the flu shot gave you the flu. Or it doesn't work. Because it does work if you are exposed to the strain it's protecting against and it is impossible for it to give you the flu. If you simply don't want it, don't get it. But if you are asked, give the real reason you don't want it. Not some cockamamie story!


bleu said...

The fact that it is supposed to be a dead virus does not negate the fact that there have been live strains found in dead virus vaccines. Have you read the VAERS database? http://www.medalerts.org/

I have had 2 close friends lose children after vaccines.

I do not think making your own decisions based on your own research is a bad thing but PLEASE do not speak for the general public on what is best for everyone.

Vaccines have their own inherent dangers, ALL of them. They are also backed HUGELY by pharmaceutical companies. If you owned a company that had a vaccine the entire US was saying was necessary it would be in your companies interest to make sure they put out many studies saying it was perfectly healthy. Do you have the numbers of how many people die per year from the vaccines? You can look it up, it is public info on the database.

I do not write how unintelligent I think people are who choose to vaccinate or how faulty their thinking is but here you do.

I have spent literally hundreds of hours combing through the VAERS database, reading medical journals, discussing with doctors everything I could find about vaccines. My own pediatrician supports strongly my choices for my child. They may very well not be your choices for you or your child but PLEASE PLEASE at least open your mind up to the possibility that there may be other possibilities out there.

nancy said...

I never said there wasn't any problems with them. Yes, people die from vaccines. But how would that number multiply if there were no vaccines saving all the lives from the virus they are protecting against? Do you really think the reason no one dies of the mumps, measles, rubella or contracts polio in the US is mearly a coincidence? I don't have time to spend hundreds of hours on this, for I work full time and parent children. But I'm going to hazzard a guess the amount of children we used to lose to these diseases was a hell of a lot more than the ones we lose to the vaccines.

As for finding live viruses, mistakes happen. So do things like a doctor leaving a scalpel in the abdomen of a patient receiving a life saving operation. But would I tell everyone about to have an operation to not get it because the doctor will leave a scalpel in them? Of course I wouldn't. All things have risk, but the risk of something like that is so minimal, it would drive someone crazy just to be able to make a simple decision. I personally can go with my gut without knowing each and every possibility. I worry about things as they are happening, I don't live in throat closing fear that something will happen just because it's a small possibility. I would never be able to enjoy my life. I would never be able to enjoy something like my pregnancy. Oh boy, what a terrible life that would be!

And I never said I was speaking for the general public. I'm speaking for myself. You know, the whole "this is my blog" thing.

I read many blogs which have gone GREATLY against what I believe. And I'll comment I disagree and sometimes, when it's too "hot", I won't because I would never want to be rude to someone. But you won't see me leave this kind of response "I do not write how unintelligent I think people are who choose to vaccinate or how faulty their thinking is but here you do." That statement of yours was overly rude because it was accusing me of something I did ~NOT~ do. I never said anyone was unintelligent. Ever. I said what I think will be the result of many people choosing not to vaccinate, true. But I ~never~ called anyone unintelligent and it offends me that you accused me of such a thing. This is obviously a hot topic for you, so I'm going to bet you are simply overly emotional about it and maybe you don't see how that kind of a comment would seem to someone. Or maybe you are so used to people disagreeing with you on this subject, you are simply overly defensive and you assumed I was calling your choice unintelligent. I do think it's quite a risk, but I would NEVER call you unintelligent, nor anyone else who excercised their CHOICE as an american citizen.

As for "opening my mind to other possibilities", I think the part of me saying there ~is~ a choice means there I believe there is other possibilities and I believe people should be able to make their choice. But the point I was making was I think they should have the balls to say ~why~ they are making their choice. Not giving some notion of "I'm not going to have my ruptured spleen out because the doctor could leave a scalpel in me!" which is the kind of cockamamie story I was talking about.

nancy said...

(sorry to anyone who got that comment multiple times! I had a few additions and then a spelling error that was bugging me, so I reposted it.)


Anonymous said...

Well said, Nancy! I whole heartedly agree with you.

Angela said...

My niece and nephew both got the flu several years ago and wound up in the hospital after in turned into pnuemonia. They had their flu shot and contracted a different strain, and while that makes some people believe the shot is worthless? Not me. I watched those babies suffer the Christmas holidays in the hospital pumped full of IV meds. If there's a chance I can prevent that happening to myself or my son, I will. I got my shot at the very beginning of October, and though my son had a cold at the time, he got the mist as soon as he was cleared for it. I'm not taking any chances. I hear about the flu killing a LOT more kids than I hear about the flu vaccine killing.

Mareike said...

Life is a "Craps shoot." We all have to make informed decisions, weigh the pros and cons, and do what we believe to be best. Sometimes we lose. Vaccinations are most certainly important to the health of all of us. It's certainly tragic when someone has a reaction that causes death and anyone close to that might change their future decisions. I had a friend when I was in middle school and living in Manhatten who was 14 years old and was not allowed to cross the street. Her younger brother had been killed by a car and her mother was terrified of losing another child. This girl had to take a taxi to and from school and couldn't do anything with any of her friends unless it was at her house. We should not allow ourselves to be crippled with fear by the very unfortunate things that rarely happen.

Io said...

While I'm terribly sorry for Bleu's friends, I agree with you Nancy - vaccines are for the greater good. Many, MANY more would die without than die with.

fuentes said...

I agree that the flu shot does not cause the flu, and it drives me crazy when that is a persons reason for not getting the shot.

I know it is considered safe during pregnancy and even recommended, but I chose not to do it this year because I am wary of vaccines and how they might affect our children, and until we are done doing research we are choosing to not expose our children to them.

Anonymous said...

Did I get you all fired up? Like your responses.

Hollie said...

This is definitely a hot topic. Sometimes I wonder... if we lived in an era when the flu killed thousands of people or we saw victims of polio, would we be so hesitant to be vaccinated and get our kids vaccinated? It just doesn't seem so real to us. Of course vaccines are dangerous, but the diseases they protect us against are much worse.

I got the flu shot last week, and I had a sore throat for a couple of days and I have an earache. Maybe it's related, maybe it's not. This was my first flu shot, but I'll probably get them every year now that I'm going to be a mom. And I want my son to be protected since he won't be able to get the shot till he's around 6 months.

nancy said...

Velma - It was your post which made me post this one, but I definitely didn't get all fired up from it (although I do get fired up when I'm accused of things I not only didn't do, but I'm careful to never do).

It was actually a comment on your blog which got me to write my post. I'm sorry that your blog was my "inspiration"! ~wink~

Swanson Family said...

I totally agree with you Nancy.

Last year was actually the first year I received the flu shot. Mainly because I had a newborn. This year I chose the flu mist. My children have always gotten their vaccines and flu shots. My thought is if there's something out there that may prevent them from getting sick then I'm going to make sure they get it. It's another preventative measure such as washing hands, etc.

MrsSpock said...

Thanks Nancy!

From the CDC website:

"Every year in the United States, on average:

* 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
* more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications; and
* about 36,000 people die from flu. (mostly the very young and very old)

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), are at high risk for serious flu complications."

As an ICU nurse, I see these complications every year. Mostly the elderly and chronically ill. They end up on vents. Some die. For most of us, getting the flu is just a miserable experience. For the very young, the very old, and those medically compromised, the flu can be deadly. If you live with someone at high risk, being vaccinated will help protect them.

The flu shot does NOT cause the flu- but some people can have a low-grade fever and achiness.

The injection is made from a killed virus. The nasal spray DOES contain a live, weakened virus , is only for healthy people( no asthma, no COPD) ages 2-49, and is NOT to be used by pregnant women. The nasal spray tends to have more side effects. Because of that, I always get the shot.

Even if you do not feel comfortable vaccinating an infant, you yourself can protect them by getting vaccinated yourself. An infant under 6 months should not be vaccinated, and cannot receive antivirals if they end up hospitalized for influenza. All we can do is provide supportive care- ventilation, oxygenation, IV fluids, etc.

One of the hardest things I've seen as a nurse (next to a circumcision of a day-old baby boy- now THAT'S a hot-button issue!, and the reason why I refused to circ my son) were several infants in the PICU on vents for the flu. Otherwise healthy.

The VAERS database in an excellent database. It does have limitations, though. Let's say you are wanting to know how many deaths are caused by vaccines. If you look up the numbers in VAERS, it will give you 3064 events since 1990. That doesn't not mean that 3064 deaths were caused by vaccines. Every occurrence in the database is self-reported, meaning
there may be deaths that have not been reported, and there may be quite a few in the database that are caused by other means, like SIDS, chronic condition, or something unrelated to a vaccine.

An example:

VAERS ID 25526 Vaccination Date: 1990-06-08
Age 45.0 Onset Date: 1990-06-17 Days later: 9
Sex F Submitted: 0000-00-00
State TX Entered: 1990-07-18

Life Threatening Illness? No
Died? Yes (date died: 1990-06-19)
Disability? No
Recovered? No
ER or Doctor Visit? No
Hospitalized? No
Current Illness:
Diagnostic Lab Data: 30Jul90- cause of death: anaphylactic shock; the poisonous efectof ingested food stuff causing an accute systemic anaphylactic response which led to acute myocardial failure & ended in cardo-respiratory arrest.
Previous Vaccinations:
Other Medications:
Preexisting Conditions:





Administered by: PVT Purchased by: UNK
Pt given Imovax rabies on 9-JUN-90 c/o sore arm. 17-JUN-90 pt. had fever & abd tenderness. Family member states worsened. While traveling w/husband pt. began to vomit blood. Taken to ER & admittedto intensive care. Pt had a cardiac arrest

This child died from anaphylactic shock related to ingested food- yet the death was reported on VAERS because it fell within a month of receiving a vaccine.

That said, even if every death on the database was accurate, 3064 in 20 years is much less than 36,000 a year.

Parents should not be forced to vaccinate- but I do think the science shows the benefits outweigh the risks.

Oh yeah- and wash your hands, ya'll!

Jenera said...

I got the flu shot two weeks ago. I got sick but not flu sick. I was already getting a cold and I think the flu shot didn't help. But neither did the not eating well, the baby giving me problems and what not. I only got the flu shot because of being pregnant and when I'll be delivering. We won't be getting it for Aidan for several reasons.

This is the first flu shot I've got in oh about 10 years. I haven't had the flu since I was a kid either. The flu sucks ass. And even though I was really sick the last couple weeks, I think mine was from a whole lot of things going on at one time that overwhelmed me.

Jenera said...

I also wanted to add-we have gotten just about every vaccination for Aidan as well but only after research and questions to his doctor. I don't think anyone should go blindly into anything. But I think a blatant refusal of all vaccinations is not good. I understand some people have adverse reactions to some but that should not mean that those of us who still choose to vaccinate our kids should be condemned.

margelina said...

I have gotten the actual flu twice in my adult life, both times after getting a flu shot that didn't have great coverage. The first time was awful, in bed for 3 days with a high fever, and then last year I got a strain ofthe flu, but it was pretty mild. The shotactually did give me some protection so I wasn't as sick as I could have been. I will stillcontinue to get the flu shot for myself and my family every year.
And I completely do not agree with not vaccinating your kids. I don't believe that it causes autism or any other malady (sp?) and I feel like parents who are against them are doing a huge disservice to their kids. Also, at least in my state, kids who don't get vaccines can't attend daycare or schools. And I agree with that, too.

Wordgirl said...

Hi all,

I've never been more than peripherally involved in decisions regarding vaccinations -- that is left to W's mom and dad -- but I do know that there have been concerns about certain kinds of vaccines and there have been responses in terms of removing elements in vaccines -- I know there's been some debate as to the links to autism. G & X have always chosen to vaccinate W, that said -- I do understand why some people choose not to.

If you're interested in a scarier debate about pharmaceutical companies not having your best interest at heart check out the new NYT's magazine article http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/magazine/02fda-t.html

about the FDA's inability to protect the quality of drugs made in China - made there b/c pharmaceutical companies care more about their bottom line than the product going to you and your children.

And as an aside -- I got the flu the year I didn't get a shot -- I was deadly sick, couldn't get out of bed, it progressed to pneumonia and I had a ruptured eardrum -- if you think you've had the flu -- you probably have just had a terrible cold -- let me tell you when you get influenza -- you know it.

For the record I'm definitely getting a flu shot!



bleu said...

You equated to vaccinating to saying a dead dog bit you, to me THAT was saying it was unintelligent. To me that was rude.

I am sorry I ever spoke up now though. I often read things I do not agree with but I do not normally comment, I was just really hurt by the assumption that anyone would make the choice not to lightly or without research, or even a doctors recommendation. I am sorry if I offended, I will definitely refrain from speaking up in debate again. I truly thought I was being respectful.

Elana Kahn said...

I would SO much rather "risk" getting a flu shot than really risk getting the flu. I've had the flu and it sucks. I've never known anyone to get sick from the flu shot (or any other vaccine, but that's a much different story). Childhood vaccines and the flu shot are soooo far removed from one another in terms of risk. I will agree that there could be a link between childhood vaccines and all sorts of horrible things happening, but the flu shot just isn't one of them. My husband is a pharmacist, my father was a pharmacist, and my father-in-law was a pharmacist, so take it from someone who does know (none of them worked for pharmaceutical companies). Flu shots are much safer than getting the flu (and a whole lot easier)--childhood vaccines are for a totally different topic.

nancy said...

Bleu, I am "known" for my analogies and I always over simplify them to make my point. With such a large reading pool, I can't assume everyone will understand what I'm trying to say, so I am guilty of simplifying my "stand" through the use of analogies. I apologize if that offended you.

But do know that my over simplified analogy wasn't meant to equate vaccinating as a whole to a dead dog biting you. I was simply explaining that dead viruses can't cause the disease, just like a dead dog can't bite you. (and yes, there is room for error, as you pointed out some have been found to contain live viruses. I understand nothing is 100% safe, no matter how hard someone may try). It was only an analogy for a dead virus = a dead dog. I never meant it to mean someone was unintelligent (and honestly, I still don't quite understand how that could be seen as me calling anyone unintelligent, but nevertheless, if that's how you took it, I do apologize).

I don't think you should say you should "never speak in a debate" again. But with me, I always try to be kind to the "other" point of view and always leave the other side open for discussion. It's something I am so careful with, suddenly being told I'm closed minded, speaking for the public and calling names was just so ~not~ anything I was doing. I simply try to state MY opinion without inferring anything from the other person.

Cate said...

After giving 45 flu shots and 5 flu nasal sprays today I must say I'm incredibly happy these people made the decision they did. They are not only protecting themselves, they are protecting me. I work in a clinic and people come in for all sorts of sicknesses and thankfully I rarely catch anything but I have a husband who is deathly afraid of needles and he catches everything I bring home. I spent my day reassuring patients that they made the right decision and what reactions they can expect but we rarely hear of someone getting very sick. Also, people who get the flu shot too early in the season can still get sick later on if they don't come back for the mid/end season booster.

Jennifer said...

DH and I got our flu shot and DD (1) got her first one (she has to get a 2nd one a month later). Her pedi highly/strongly suggested her getting one if she's in daycare. She's not "technically" in daycare, but her babysitter has two boys. DH and I are teachers (lots of Germs!) and we want to protect her as much as possible.

They now say that you can get the flu shot anytime during pregnancy.

Kendra said...

Thanks for bringing this up Nancy. I still haven't been able to get my flu shot and it makes me nervous. (The first time they gave them out at work was the day before I was having surgery, and now I'm cycling and the RE said I'm not allowed.) But DH and I have had debates already about when we do have kids and him getting the flu shot. He's one of those who thinks he doesn't need it because he's never had the flu (and doesn't like shots). But to me, if we have a child that is less then six months old during flu season, we have to be the ones to protect them. I don't know if I've won that debate yet, but I keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Working in a NICU, seeing babies die from the flu when they were perfectly healthy before (not talking preemies, but full-term babies) is enough to make sure I get my flu vaccine each and every year. If I'm not going to do it for my own health, I'm going to do it for theirs.


Mrslady1975 said...

I get my flu shot every year. I know that the flu shot does not make you sick, but it can make you achey and feel run down. I also get a mild flu every year but thin it would be so much worse then not getting the flu shot. I like the dead dog analagy. OH and BTW, there is a group of people out there who belive the government created the flu shot to turn us all into medicated zombies so they can control us. Ok, I am not sure if that is exactally what they think but those conspiracy theorists are sure funny!

tammy said...

I refuse to get the flu shot due to the fact that they are guestimaing which strain will actually pop up. If it was a more precise method of creating a flu shot from the actual stain, I might consider it.

I have had the flu when I was in Junior high. I was miserable and hating life but even after that, I will not get the shot.

I have already built up a resistance to amoxicillan due to years for tosilitis and ear infections. The only time I will tal=ke an antibiotic is if I truly have a miserable bug that is confirmed bacterial.

Also, I refuse to use antibacterial soap unless it is the only thing in the area becasue it compromises our natural antibodies.

And if we are ever blessed with a child, I will limit the vaccines to the ones that DH and I had as children and the measles, no others.

JamieD said...

I just wanted to say I agree wholeheartedly with your post and many of your comments (especially Mrs. Spock & Pam).

I couldn't have said it better myself!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh another issue on which we are polar opposites :)

I'm with bleu on this one (mostly).