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Flu Shot?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

As an asthmatic, I'm highly vulnerable to flu which can really lay me low for a long time. And once I've been infected with flu, quite often it progresses to a full-blown bacterial lung infection: bronchitis or pneumonia. For which antibiotics will be indicated . . . the expensive kind, unfortunately, since I'm allergic to the standard cheapies (penicillin etc.).

Flu is serious. Flu kills people. How many? Not clear: the research isn't all that robust. And it's highly inflected by politics. Here are a couple links to Canadian and US studies which indicate maybe as few as 300 people a year (Canada): maybe as many as 36,000 people a year (US)



One thing I do know: a bad bout of flu makes me contemplate death not only as a possibility, but even as a pretty attractive option! So naturally I'm a big fan of flu shots and have got one every year since they've been available . . . a long time now.

Getting a flu shot used to require making an appointment and attending at a flu shot clinic and lining up and often baring my arm in a quasi-public locale. (One year the line-up snaked through a cold rainy dark parking lot for over an hour, the irony not lost on me. Another year the flu shots were administered in the vast open space of City Hall rotunda!!). But now at least in Ontario the government has made it as easy and convenient as possible for everyone to get a flu shot.

Every pharmacy offers flu shots on a drop in basis. I slipped into the pharmacy across the street from my office, picked up the form, filled it out at my leisure, and then came back a day later. In and out in minutes -- although they like you to wait 10 minutes or so afterwards just to make sure there's no adverse reaction. The pharmacist (a woman, just sayin') although very busy with her regular duties was pleasant and highly skilled: I didn't even feel the shot. And of course flu shots here in Canada have always been free. Big surprise this time, the pharmacist also gave me a small folder of discount coupons on various products to encourage my return to the store. So: better than free! What's not to like?

Getting a shot, I guess. Because it's still a small minority who get the immunization.

I would be very happy if my work colleagues would all get flu shots. I photocopied the forms and posted a few beside the photocopier and let them know by email how convenient it is to get the shot. I realize, though, that for people who aren't as flu vulnerable as I am, there's way less incentive to get even this absolutely no cost and completely painless needle.

Still, those lucky people who tend to be "flu-free" are also potential flu carriers. Many of our clients are elderly or, of course, dealing with health issues. Not just me. And that's why I'd be happy if everyone got a flu shot. But even health care workers are not required to get flu shots. It's considered to be a matter of personal choice. Even in a country like mine where citizens don't necessarily believe that the best government governs least.

And I get that and respect it. Say nothing more about it. Wash my hands, use hand sanitizer (discreetly when dealing with the visibly germy), eat healthy, exercise and: ultimately my health is my responsibility. Yeah. It is.

So what do you think?

Do you get a flu shot yourself? Do you take your kids for flu shots? And do you think people in workplaces and schools and . . . just about everyone . . . . should be encouraged to get flu shots?

Or if not, why not?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I never got a flu shot until 1990 when I got the flu and as the doctor told me "you won't die but you may want to." It was AWFUL! I missed a full week of work just lying on the couch with a high fever, too sick to even watch TV. I've gotten the shot every year since, especially to protect myself from all those people who "never get the flu" yet seem to be coughing all over me.

    It's a lot easier now in the USA to get the shot than it used to be and for those of us old folks with Medicare, it's even free. Funny how we don't mind "socialized medicine" when we call it Medicare.
    1467 days ago
    I have always gotten mine, as I work in health care and that puts me at a higher risk and it is provided for free!! This year however, my employer made it mandatory for all employees to be vaccinated. I am not really sure how I feel about that. Yes, I agree that the vaccine is a good idea, but I still feel it should be left to choice....
    1469 days ago
    Got mine a few weeks ago. I started getting the flu every year after I moved over to Italy and decided enough was enough. I was tired of being laid up for a week at a time and feeling miserable, not to mention the idea that I might be contributing to the virus' spread by not doing anything about it and sometimes going into work sick. An ounce of prevention sure does go a long way!
    1469 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I personally do not get them...neither does dh...it's a personal preference...I don't take anything I don't have to.
    1470 days ago
    I get the shot every year. Last year was the first time I actually got the flu and ended up in er for fluids. The dr. said it would have been much worse if I hadn't gotten the shot.
    1471 days ago
    I get a shot on those years when I'm around the vulnerable but otherwise no. I grew up in the age of children gathering together once the mumps, measles, chickenpox etc. infected one of us and allowed our natural immunities to develop.Guess I'm a selection of the species person...
    1471 days ago
  • KANOE10
    We have easy access to flu shots everywhere..grocery stores, drug stores. I did not do them as I have never gotten the flu. However, after watching the devastating flus out there last winter and the impact on staff and children, I decided to get one this year. Washing your hands many times a day is supposed to help. I clean tables everyday!
    1471 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/10/2013 8:50:02 AM
    I've gotten a flu shot every year for over 10 years - between being asthmatic like you, and teaching in a school with lots of germy kids, I really can't afford to get asthma and end up with bronchitis or pneumonia. Been there too many times, done that too many times, don't wanna do it again.

    YAY for flu shots! (And at my asthma dr's office, they are free!)

    Don't know where to find a flu shot on our travels, though. It's probably time to get one again.
    1471 days ago
    Always, yes! My employer provides it for free PLUS they send out reminders when they have the flu vaccine in stock. I was a bit perturbed as they did not get the vaccine until late October this year, nervous about getting the flu before I got the vaccine!

    I know many of my co-workers develop a host of reasons NOT to get the vaccine...but I'm just not gonna take any chances. I think most of us here at SparkPeople look at illnesses as a major double whammy in that not only are we ill but we can't WORKOUT the way we need to!

    1471 days ago
    I haven't gotten one this year yet, but I probably will this Friday. I think it is a good idea. My hubby already got his this year.
    1471 days ago
  • _LINDA
    I am not a person to take sick easily, can't remember when I had a cold last, and I did have the flu once as a child, but in spite of throwing up never lost my appetite! In fact, it actually made my arthritis pain go away -I remarked at how my joints all felt like 'rubber'. Evidently, my immune system had all its resources attacking the invaders and left my body alone for the seven days I had it. My Dr. does recommend it because of the immunosuppressive drugs I am on. I missed getting it last year as the time they were giving it in my building was of course, opposite my bridge commitment as it is again this year. Not sure about the pharmacies here offering it -I think its one time 'clinic' dates, not drop in. They were offering it in the gym that I go to (ugh germs!!!) but I don't know when. Bottom line is if I can get to it I certainly would have one. Wasting something protective and free is criminal.
    1471 days ago
    I never got them when I was teaching
    (though they were free in the school clinic)
    but now that I have grandkids and especially since I cared for my elderly mother the last few years of her life and now work work with the elderly, I wouldn't dream of not getting one.
    I was like some of your commenters- I never got the flu so I didn't need one, right?
    (Well, once, and it was horrific!)
    You make a very good case for everyone getting one!
    1471 days ago
    My work provides them free at work. Cheaper than having us all out with the flu I guess.

    My Dr recommends them - and most do!
    "evidence" on the internet on everything. I would do what my TRUSTED MD suggests for me.
    1471 days ago
    Judith and I got our 1st flu shots five years ago and haven't missed one since. What a difference that has made!
    1471 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/10/2013 9:12:37 PM
    I get one yearly. My Father is in fragile health, and I spend a day at his house at least weekly. When my husband gets sick, it's a long process of recovery. There are 3 grandchildren and a niece and nephew who are still in school who bring home germs and share, (not to mention my brother in law, who is a school teacher) so we're just protecting ourselves from what's floating around out there. I would still do this if I had to bear the full cost of the shot.

    I wish a flu-free season for you!
    1472 days ago
    I get it practically every year, went to the pharmacy last year too!
    1472 days ago
    Hubby and I got ours. My daughter, SIL and 9-month-old granddaughter got theirs. I think it is a disturbing trend that people are not getting immunized or vaccinated -- as you say, they are not only exposing themselves to these preventable diseases and ailments, they are exposing others as well. (But I live in Arkansas where PLENTY of people oppose fluoride in the water!) *head shake*
    1472 days ago
  • DALID414
    According to the boyfriend I've had the flu twice since he's known me which is close to 20 years. I don't get the shot, but every year I do want to!
    It's not free, I have no insurance, I don't trust local pharmacy employees (I know a few 'friends' who studied to be phamacy technicians and I wouldn't take a Tylenol from them!), the list of excuses is endless...
    1472 days ago
    I do get a flu shot. I visit my Mom in a nursing home frequently and would feel terrible if somehow I felt that I had infected anyone in the vulnerable population.
    They do all get flu shots. Even so, I probably would still get the shot to assist in preventing for myself and others. For the first time this year I did have a noticeable reaction. Of course a sore arm is to be expected. But 2 days after the shot I was
    VERY fatigued....just zonked! I got over that in a day. Still better than getting the actual flu,although for that day I kind of wondered.
    1472 days ago
    I get one each year for the last several years. It's paid by my health plan and would get it at my doctor's visit. The timing of that visit is now in the spring so I switched last year to my pharmacist giving the shot.

    I am a believer in preventative care. Also, I think every medical topic known to mankind has web proponents that link it to the devil, ED, etc. I'll side with the good ole US government (not necessarily the good housekeeping seal of approval) and get my shot again this year.
    1472 days ago
    Yep, I got my flu shot a few months ago.
    1472 days ago
    Never had one, never will. Can't remember the last time I had the flu.
    1472 days ago
    I get the flu shot. Not only because I don't want the flu (who does want the flu?) but because I don't want to be responsible for getting someone else sick with the flu, particularly someone who could potentially die from it due to a weakened immune system. Vaccinations are not just for the people getting them, they also help the people around you.
    1472 days ago
    Yes, I get a flu shot every year. The couple times I didn't I really regretted it. emoticon
    1472 days ago
  • BOSS61

    My bulletproof genes have always taken their chances with the flu and always will, thank you very much.

    The last time I missed school or work for being sick was... um... 10th grade. 1976. And that was much more about Lisa in Honors Chemistry giving me the could shoulder than actually having a cold.

    I needed a mental health break from the teen torment of being ignored by the brilliant and uber-cute future doctor, who has the audacity to favor clearly inferior representatives of my gender.

    So no flu shot. And maybe if I get the flu, convalescent care for the happy and well-adjusted husband and father of two budding superstars will be administered by the bitter and haggard divorced mother of four behaviorally-challenged lazy teen slackers?
    1472 days ago
    I asked this same question in a blog last year; most responded that they get the shot. I have researched this for a long time and personally decide against it. As a rule, I stay away from all things medical. But I have major reasons that I can't go into here. There is a ton of info on the internet and if you go to reliable sources, you'll make a more informed decision for yourself - pro or con. Good luck. It's a personal choice, for sure.
    1472 days ago
  • NANCY-
    My middle son and I got our flu shots on Tuesday at the Doctor's office, no appointment necessary and our insurance takes care of the cost. Now if only my youngest and hubby would get theirs.

    This morning I was watching a program called Second Opinion on Whooping Cough(pertussis).
    I didn't realize that adults around infants and small children should get vaccinated. So It looks like I'm going back for another shot.
    1472 days ago
    Using the tools we have for good health is always important.
    1472 days ago
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