Hi everyone! I wanted to write a quick post about flu shots, as it seems to be about that season. At my work, our health insurance offers flu shots to anyone who wants them for free. So if they are free, why don't I participate, you might ask. Good question!
Ok, this is NOT a post to try to guilt anyone into getting or not getting a flu shot. I just thought I would present my personal reasons for not getting one in case anyone could identify with me and make a more conscious decision for themselves whether or not to get the flu vaccine. It should be noted that I am not a health care professional, but have done research in understanding how vaccines work and have my own opinions as a result of that research. I encourage all others to be active learners when it comes to their own health, and to please consult a physician as necessary.
Often times when I ask people why they get a flu shot, they give me reasons like "well, just because I always do", "doesn't everyone?", and "because it was free, so why not?". I don't know about you, but I would like to make more educated decisions about my body and what goes into it than just saying "why not?".
I have never gotten a flu shot in my life (nor do I ever plan on getting one), and I can probably count the times I have had the flu on one hand, give or take. All of the times I had the flu, I was a child or teenager and was in school, where sharing germs is as regular as sharing homework answers. Often times, as my mom would undoubtedly well remember, my two older brothers and I would catch the flu from each other and result in a household of passing around the flu for a week or two.
First off, now I am 24 and I haven't had the flu since I was in high school. Even when I was in college and the swine flu was spreading like wildfire around my campus, I didn't get so much as an upset stomach. When I'm going on the better part of a decade not having the flu, I don't see why I would want to get the shot. It would be like loading extra air into your car tires unnecessarily because you got a flat tire once.
Secondly, each year's flu shot is designed to protect against the "most likely" flu virus strains of the year as predicted by CDC (Center for Disease Control) research. So what happens if an uncommon flu virus springs up (such as the swine flu in 2009)? It doesn't matter if you have the flu shot or not, you're just as vulnerable as everyone else. From the CDC:
"How effective is the flu vaccine? How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. [...] During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed. During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, it’s possible to measure substantial benefits from vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness. However, even during years when the vaccine match is very good, the benefits of vaccination will vary across the population, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated and even, potentially, which vaccine was used."
So if the vaccine isn't well match for the year, "tough sh*t", and even if it is well matched it might not work for you for a multitude of reasons. If a vaccine has such ambiguity surrounding its effectiveness, why would you want to put a foreign matter in your body with the ability to affect your immune system in any way?
Thirdly, I believe in relying more on your own immune system than in medicines and vaccines. I am a firm believer that the best thing we can do for the immune system is to give your body whole, nutritious plant foods and let it do its job. I don't like to get in my immune system's way of trying to take care of me.
Even if I do get sick with a common cold, I don't throw cold and cough medicine down my throat. I make sure to load up on more veggies and drink plenty of water, as well as clean common surfaces and change my bedding daily. For an extra immunity boost, I like to get a couple of oranges and munch on those for some added Vitamin C. I did just that with my cold I had on Monday and found that most of the bothersome symptoms were gone in a day, and I feel back to normal today (Friday).
Lastly, I don't find myself to be a high-risk individual for contracting the flu virus. I work in an office at a personal desk, so I rarely share germs with others. I have good hygiene habits, especially in public places (i.e. washing my hands and not touching public surfaces and then touching my mouth, eyes, nose). I rarely, if ever am in contact with the elderly or young children, so I wouldn't have the risk of passing a virus on to someone more vulnerable. I eat a diet filled with immune-supporting foods, rather than the Standard American Diet filled with immune-limiting foods.
With all of that being said, please remember to use your own judgement with your body and what you decide to put into it. I am happy to hear others' opinions that are presented in a constructive and respectful manner, so please leave comments if you would like to add to the conversation. Any and all offensive comments will be removed.
Editor's Note: I thought this article was interesting that came out later this flu season.
Health and Happiness,