Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why I Don't Get the Flu Shot

Ah, yes. It's the time of year where everyone and their mother feels the need to pressure everyone else to get
There's snow on the ground, and flu season is upon us.
the flu vaccination. Yes. We know. Everyone knows. Enough, already. I can't begin to tell you how tired I am of getting that message from every corner of my life.

Why? Put simply, because not everyone SHOULD get the flu shot.

I happen to be one of the minority who has an ongoing asthmatic reaction to the shot. I've tried two types, and each time it triggered an attack, which then led to at least two weeks of being hyper-reactive to everything. That, in turn, puts me at risk of serious infections, in addition to worsening attacks and lung damage. The only reason I got the second one, was because I foolishly listened to the doctor who probably thought I was overreacting to the first one's side effects. So glad I found someone who seems to take me seriously.

Asthma can be a deadly disease, and the best way to manage it is through a combination of trigger avoidance, healthy lifestyle and medication, the last of which has its own set of problems.

Something in at least two of the available shots triggers some of the nastiest asthma reactions I've ever experienced. Why should I submit myself to the certainty of a serious attack and weeks of sickness in order to potentially avoid catching the flu? I don't know if it's eggs, which have caused similar reactions when I eat too many, or the preservatives, which my body is also apparently sensitive to, but it's just not worth it for me.

Bear in mind, there is also always the chance of catching a strain not included in the flu shot. The yearly vaccination is created with what are projected to be the most common strains of the virus that year, so it will usually work against those. In fact, the 2012-2013 vaccine was estimated to be 56% effective, which isn't too bad. However, 2007-2008 was a rough year for virus matching. It just goes to show, even if you get the shot, you should still take extra measures to avoid infection.

Does this mean I'm telling no one to get it? No, not at all. If you can get it, and your personal ethics don't contradict the shot, by all means, go for it. It is safe for the majority of the population, after all.

Just please, please stop spreading the message that everyone should get it, because not everyone should. And, for pity's sake, don't automatically vilify those of us who don't get vaccinated, especially when there's a valid medical reason. Vaccines have done a lot of great things for humanity, but they're not 100% safe for everyone. That must be remembered.

By the way, if you or your child does have a severe or uncommon reaction to the flu shot, or any vaccine for that matter, you can report it to the CDC and FDA on VAERS, their vaccine adverse event reporting system. If the reaction has long term effects, results in hospitalization or death, you may be able to make a claim to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which was funded to assist with severe reactions to vaccinations while avoiding lengthy legal proceedings against medical organizations.

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