*clears throat.* This is my fourth October in a clinical setting, and a few things are very consistent. Missed appointments due to the rain, pumpkin spice coffee creamer in the lounge fridge, and people refusing to get the influenza vaccine. Groans.Why is this still happening? Is the medical system so distrustful that patients can believe something so validated as a vaccine that has the potential to save ~40,000 lives and thousands of hospitalizations, should be feared? In some ways, I get it. Evidence based medicine failed us in allowing a few poorly designed and tampered studies by a certain doctor (whose name I can’t even type because it angers me) to be published and available to read/interpret. This snowballed the idea that vaccines may cause autism– and while we’re at it, layman and public, let’s make a few unsupported claims that the ingredients in vaccines are incredibly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
The flu vaccine is safe.
Repeat after me: the flu vaccine (and all other clinically available vaccines) are safe. You can not get the flu from the injected vaccine because the virus is inactivated. A dead virus won’t give you the flu. The occasional feeling of mild fatigue, muscle aches that people get after the vaccine is your body mounting an immune response. Congratulations! That means you have an immunity against influenza strains. Yay!
Q: But I never get the flu, why do I need the vaccine?“ & “I’ve gotten the flu before and it really wasn’t that bad sooo I’ll just take my chances ok?”
A: Nope, not cool. Occasionally, we healthcare providers do things to protect both you AND a more vulnerable population. So you only get mild symptoms when you get the flu, congratulations! Unfortunately 90% of the deaths that occur from influenza are in the elderly population. A weaker immune system mounts a weaker response to fight the flu. Don’t get the vaccine for yourself, get it for your favorite person over the age of 65. If not for the elderly, do it for the kids. Flu vaccines play a tremendous role in reducing pediatric ICU admissions for flu-related illnesses.
Who shouldn’t get the flu shot? If you’re reading this, you should get the flu shot. It is recommended for everyone (including pregnant women and individuals with HIV) over the age of 6 months. Are you older than 6 months? I think so. Get vaccinated. The CDC does an excellent job at predicting which strains of the virus will be prevalent, but each year the efficacy varies. However, even a non-perfect match of flu strains will still provide antibody production and reduce the severity of illness. How. Awesome.
Everything you’d ever want to know about the flu and flu vaccine can be found on the CDC website by clicking HERE. CDC is life, CDC is love <3
In Summary: get the flu vaccine to protect you and the elderly and the kids.. and reward yourself with a pumpkin spice latte for your boo-boo. Cheers!