In the camp that’s for getting the flu shot

Posted 11/15/18

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve nursed myself back to health from a bout with the common cold.

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In the camp that’s for getting the flu shot

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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve nursed myself back to health from a bout with the common cold.

The “common” cold, as we all can attest, can be uncommonly bothersome.

Towards the middle of the ever-evolving course of my most recent common cold, simple things – walking from one room to another, for example -- winded me and wore me out.

And that was just a cold.

From past experience, I know the flu – the actual flu -- can be crippling.

Once when I was a teenager, I went to school one morning – it was a Friday, I remember – feeling normal and by mid-day, I was roaming the hallways as if in a fog, feeling increasingly beaten and bad as it became certain I was in the grip of something fierce.

By the time I got home that afternoon, I went straight to bed, plopping my aching body in a reclined position from which I mostly didn’t deviate for the next few days.

Anyone who has had the flu knows they’ve had it and probably wouldn’t want it again. Which is where the flu shot comes in.

For the past 20-plus years, I’ve more often than not gotten a flu shot to prevent the kind of bed-ridden weekend I experienced as a younger man.

Why do I do this?

Sometimes, amid the noise of social media, where I see lots of people sound off on the alleged evils of vaccines, I wonder.

I know some folks who oppose the shot as if it’s something sinister, far worse than the flu itself.
They point to a list of ingredients in the vaccine, suggesting these ingredients could do more harm than good.

Or they might casually dismiss the vaccination as ineffective.

Or they may point to the fact that they themselves, despite steadfastly avoiding the vaccine, have never suffered from the flu.

I’ve never been in that camp.

Over the years, in a professional and personal capacity, I’ve talked to numerous health professionals, read a lot about the vaccines, understand their limitations and their benefits, at least to my own satisfaction.

And I believe, as I know a lot of other people do, too, that my getting the vaccine not only gives me some protection against the flu I wouldn’t otherwise have, but it also keeps me from likely spreading the virus to others.

So there’s a “greater good” component to getting an annual flu shot, too.

Out of curiosity, I Googled “reasons not to get the flu shot” and, not surprisingly, I found a lot of supporting evidence, which I read. None of it convinced me the flu shot is a bad thing.

I also Googled “reasons to get the flu shot” and the CDC’s web page, in particular, offered a lot of well-written, referenced information.

Given, if you search for it, the wealth of conflicting opinions and data, we all must make up our minds on these matters.

I made up mine a long time ago that the flu isn’t a good thing and that the flu shot, aimed at avoiding or mitigating symptoms of the flu, is beneficial.

Anecdotally, I will mention that not all administers of the flu shot are equal. I’ve had some shots I barely felt and others I felt quite a lot. There must be a trick to it.

Last Saturday, popping into one of the many pharmacies offering flu shots, my wife and I took this year’s plunge and were both, I hate to say, unimpressed with the shot giver’s abilities.

My wife, not shy about such matters, let him know she felt the shot.

The pharmacist wasn’t moved, though, simply staying steadfast to a seemingly well-rehearsed script, saying that the shot, though it may hurt, hurts less than the flu itself.

Two days later, my arm was still sensitive where the shot went in.

But, painful or not, I still agree with the pharmacist whose skill I questioned: it’s a small sacrifice to pay to avoid the flu.


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