More Afraid of the Shot Than the Flu

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I twice put on shoes and then stepped on a plank with a nail that went through my foot. Should I conclude it is better to walk over scrap lumber barefoot?

Fear Consequences of Fearing Inoculation

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The 2017–18 epidemic is one of the worst influenza seasons ever, killing an average of 4,000 Americans per week. There were 11,965 laboratory-confirmed flu-related hospi­taliza­tions reported from October 1 to January 20. For the entire season, 80,000 Americans died. A “successful” personal flu battle can last up to six weeks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) produced an interactive map displaying the weekly spread across the country this season. At the time of this writing, it reached all U.S.A. states, islands and territories and is widespread in all but five. This is the level seen with the H1N1 2009 pandemic. If you are still pondering effectiveness of vaccinations, read further.

Legitimate Needle Fears

The vaccine includes a small inactive dose of the flu. But this is how our amazing bodies work. After battling a weakened version, the immune system “remembers” how to fight it when exposed to the full-blown version.

People often imagine much larger needles than what are in use. You can barely feel today’s small needles and inhalants are sometimes available. Microneedle patches offer promising results. If you have trypano­phobia (fear of needles) or are allergic to eggs, discuss options with the attending nurse.

How Effective Are Vaccines?

Are You More Afraid of the Shot Than the Flu?

Many who oppose vaccinations argue that they previously caught the flu after the shot. As a child, I put on cork-soled shoes and stepped on a plank with a nail that went through my foot—twice in two weeks. Should I conclude it is better to walk over scrap lumber barefoot since I was wearing shoes during each accident? The coincidental injuries had more to do with hauling waste lumber away from the play yard than the shoes.

Similarly, people can be exposed to the flu virus prior to or up to 2 weeks after the shot, before the body builds immunity. It is also possible to contract a strain that differs from the ones included in the vaccine. These are coincidences that do not negate the benefits of inoculation.

There are several different flu strains each year. The most likely three candi­dates are isolated for a vaccine, including variations of the one that has been popular since 1968, H3N2. Inactive versions of these viruses cultured within chicken eggs form the basis for the inoculation. (The nurse will usually ask if you are allergic to eggs or keep you under short observation afterwards if you are not certain and it is your first vaccination.) As our immune system works to rid weakened viruses, it “remembers” them and is better prepared to defend itself from exposure to full-strength versions with which we may later come in contact.

Antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related flu viruses. A less than ideal match may result in reduced vaccine effectiveness against the flu virus that is different from what is in the flu vaccine, but can still provide some protection against flu illness.

The CDC, which conducts studies annually to gauge the vaccine’s protective ability, has found immunization reduces the risk of flu illness by 40 to 60 percent during seasons. The 2017–18 season is abnormal. A vaccination effectiveness (VE) study published February 15, 2018 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that flu vaccines were 36% effective overall against influenza A and B. This means a vaccinated person reduced his or her risk of getting sick with the flu by about one third. However, the data show that VE against the season’s dominant strain, the H3N2 strain, is lower, at 25%, Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director for the CDC said.

Xofluza is a drug approved in 2018 by the FDA to treat the flu in people age 12 and older who have had symptoms for no more than two days. However, the organization cautions that drugs do not replace the preventive flu vaccine.

Priority Groups for Vaccination

  • Children under 5 years of age (especially those under 2 years of age)
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Adults and children who have chronic medical conditions such as chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (excluding isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
  • People who are immunocompromised (including, but not limited to, immunosuppression caused by medications or HIV infection)
  • Pregnant and postpartum women
  • Children and adolescents (aged 6 months through 18 years) who are receiving aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives
  • People who are extremely obese (body mass index of 40 or greater for adults)
  • Healthcare personnel
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children under 5 years of age and adults 50 years of age and older
  • Household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at increased risk for severe illness and complications from influenza
Natural Health Flu Recipe From Organic Authority

There is no clinical evidence of effectiveness.

  • 6 Carrots chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 Apple chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 Celery stalks chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • Handful of parsley
  • 2 Garlic cloves

Juice the garlic first. Next juice the celery and parsley together. To juice the parsley, tuck the stems and the leaves into the groove of the celery sticks. Finish juicing with the carrots and apples. Note: With the Brevelle juicer, there is no need to chop the carrots or apple. The mouth is large enough to accept them whole. In fact, you can juice the 6 carrots simultaneously.

“Wish I Could Afford The Luxury of Getting Sick”

When younger, I didn’t have time for illness or flu shots. Remaining in bed seemed like a luxury. In fact when people got sick, I would make the tongue-in-cheek remark above. Then it happened. I caught the flu one year. It was pretty bad for a week. Then I jumped up and got back to work. After a day or two, that flu body-slammed me with bronchitis. Flat on my back, I was out a total of 6 weeks.

During the next flu season, same thing happened. Six months later, it happened again during the same season. Double whammy. My remark about “the luxury of getting sick” was no longer funny. This influenza robbed me of 3 months out of the year. I somehow migrated from flu repellent to flu magnet.

Since then I have been a loyal vaccination recipient every year without relapse. The flu shot does not provide complete immunity. But it can lessen symptoms if you do catch it. One year, months after inoculation, I had a “fizzle” of flu that lasted a couple of days. Bottom line is our bodies change.

Exercise reasonable care to avoid contact with those who have the flu. If you catch the flu in spite of being vaccinated, the vaccine may reduce the severity of symptoms, but avoid public areas where you are likely to spread the flu to others. Still skeptical about vaccination risks? Visit the fact checking article below entitled “Should You Avoid Getting a Flu Shot?”

To support the writing of useful articles about this topic, ClinicalPosters sells human anatomy posters, scientific posters and other products online. Slide extra posters into DeuPair Frames without removing from the wall or leave an encouraging comment to keep the work going. Stay safe and A Bit More Healthy.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD (WebMD), and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz. He is a prior 15-year con­sul­tant for Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs.

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