A 360˚ Look at the Flu Shot: Part 2

flugauzeWinter is on its way, and that means the flu will be threatening to show its ugly head. Every year I battle with the question: What if we don’t get the flu shot? Is it worth the cardio it takes to get my children to sit still for a vaccine? Aren’t they catching way worse in the waiting room of the doctor’s office waiting for the vaccine? If they get the flu, and I chose to not get the shot, did I, in fact, give my kids the flu? What about other people around us? 

When I was young, the flu vaccine didn’t exist in my little world. I base a lot of my parenting decisions on the way I was raised, while I know times have changed,  I still think it’s important to know exactly what I am putting in my children’s bodies, and exactly why I have chosen to do what I have done. I am a strong believer in vaccinating children. What’s good for all is good for all, and the flu shot was something I started getting when I was pregnant. However, last year, we missed our window, and we had the healthiest winter season of our lives. After all of this research, I know how “hit or miss” this vaccine can be, so Kelly and I thought it would be interesting to really look at the pros and cons of the flu shot. Our information is research-based, and this post simply exists to inform others on our findings because we both see the benefits of the shot. Here is some food for thought:.

Why Some Say No to the Flu Shot–by Tessakallys-wedding-300x202

We’re a pretty healthy family, (I seriously just knocked on wood). I’ve been a teacher for 15 years and my children have been thrust into public schools and daycares, so we have had exposure to a lot of germs. I don’t believe this is a bad thing. My children are old enough now, that we really aren’t home for long periods of time for illness, and we were home exactly zero times with my oldest two last year. I even remember the flu shot shortage scare of 2010, where we had to get a line on a doctor’s office that still had some left in a neighboring town. We felt major relief afterwards, but I think that’s when I started questioning what went into the syringe that was being plunged into my family’s systems.

When asked why some families choose not to get the flu shot, the answers varied. Some believed it is not effective enough for the hassle. USA News and World Report states that the flu shot isn’t as effective as other vaccines. “ One dose alone of the MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective at preventing measles, according to the CDC, and at least 90 percent effective at warding off rubella, according to the Immunization Action Coalition. The flu vaccine is closer to 60 percent effective, mostly because of unexpected strains.” Kelly mentioned the unexpected strains in our last post about the flu shot, and this has proven to be one of the reasons people choose to pass on it each year.

One of my friends who is a medical professional has never gotten a flu shot. She has worked in emergency rooms across the state, in the high school health room, and other doctor’s offices, and she has never wanted it. She thinks it is important for the very young and the elderly to get their flu shot each year, but she feels that it is unnecessary for her family at this time.

Another reason people choose to bypass the flu shot is due to the chemicals involved. On foodbabe.com, she explains that she doesn’t feel comfortable with the cocktail in each syringe. She lists specific ingredients that make her nervous:

  • Egg Products (including avian contaminant viruses)
  • Aluminum
  • Thimersol (Mercury)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Chick Embryo Cells
  • Latex
  • Formaldehyde
  • Gelatin
  • Polysorbate 80 (Used as a defoamer in foods and medicines.)
  • Triton X100 (strong detergent)
  • Sucrose (table sugar)
  • Resin
  • Gentamycin

fluvaniVani Hari (The Food Babe) has established herself as the preservative police in America, outing many fast food companies and organizations for using ingredients that are illegal in other countries. She is continuing this type of questioning with the flu shot, blaming the pharmaceutical companies for trying to make money by pressuring Americans into getting this vaccine each year. She sees the flu shot as propaganda, and her questioning makes you think. When compared to the CDC’s ingredient list, most of the ingredients she mentions show up.

No matter where you fall on this subject, it is interesting to look at multiple sides of an issue this big. It’s important to know what you are putting into your body and the bodies of your family members, and I believe it’s important to do whatever you can to avoid contracting or spreading the flu to others.

The people I spoke to regarding flu prevention champion the traditional methods of staying free of germs. Natural flu prevention such as: hand washing, getting suitable rest, eating a healthy diet, etc. are all ways in which they plan to prevent the flu this year.

Benefits of the Flu Shot–by Kelly photo-of-kelly-riibe-1

My family has always gotten the flu shot. I think my childhood plays a big part in getting any and all vaccinations. My younger brother had leukemia, which meant his immune system was compromised for a number of years. I think of all the worry my parents had to go through, especially during the cold and flu season, when it came to keeping him away from sickly germs; and for that reason we always get vaccinated.

I am also not heartbroken at all about the FluMist going away, because I am a firm believer in shots being a part of life. I never felt right about letting my older kids get the mist, while my under two-year-old had to get the poke in the thigh. So we always just sucked it up and everyone had to take the syringe, and (pounding on the wood right now) fortunately we have avoided influenza each winter.

All of the medical professionals I spoke with regarding the flu shot greatly encouraged the masses to get one. According to Sarah, a mother of three and a nurse practitioner, “My husband and I both work in health care and our employers require us to get the flu vaccination. We choose to have our children vaccinated annually because by getting the flu vaccine it reduces the chances of contacting the virus.  You still can get the virus, however the symptoms will be much milder and not last as long. When people get vaccinated against influenza it reduces the chances they will get the flu and spread it to others.”

So while some people refuse the flu shot because they do not think it is effective, it has been shown to make symptoms of the flu to be much milder for those who have had the vaccine and unfortunately still come down with influenza. Getting the shot is also good for “herd immunity” said a physician assistant named Elizabeth. She explained, “Those that cannot get the vaccine should be surrounded by those who have been immunized. Persons like babies under 6 months of age cannot receive the vaccine so they depend on us to stay healthy around them.”

flustickerElizabeth went on to explain that getting influenza is serious, “Persons infected with this virus suffer considerable body pain and respiratory symptoms that can become complicated in someone with a weak or immature immune system. Complications can lead to hospitalization and in rare cases death.”

Obviously no person wants to intentionally get sick, and there are a lot of individuals out there that think by getting the flu shot it will make them sick. Emily, a public health nurse, hears this a lot from patients and debunks this myth by explaining, “There can be some side effects to any vaccination which can include soreness/redness at the injection site, cough, fever, aches, headache, and fatigue. This is the reaction you get as your body fights the foreign “virus” to build your immunity.”

She also elaborated and said, “You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. There is no live virus in the flu shot so this is impossible.”

The flu shot is like anything else, the less you know about it than the scarier it seems. By talking with a medical physician, typically all questions and concerns can be addressed.

There you have it. We tried to put together a comprehensive study of the flu shot, so that you and your family can make the best decision for you. How do you feel about this topic? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or comment on our page. Thank you, readers!


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