Should I get a Flu Shot?
Updated: Apr 2
What is your opinion on flu shots?
They are offering flu shots for over 55 yr olds tomorrow here locally in our wee town. I am 60.
I have never had one before, not sure whether I have ever had the flu, maybe I have, but I do get bad colds about twice a year and then get sinusitis afterwards when I get over the cold (only suffered from sinus for the past 2 winters).
Gary: if your doctor considers you are in an "at-risk" population, then it may be best for you to get the seasonal flu vaccine. But, what about others?
The business which I sold in 2001 used to go into companies to give their employees the flu jab about this time each year. The flu jab was quite a recent introduction back then. Some of the larger companies were happy to pay about $18-20 per employee to have them vaccinated. We would send in a nurse with a helper and production-line the employees. It was good money. A lot of people could be processed in a couple of hours.
The seasonal flu jab is big money for medical services. It is big money for everyone involved other than we, the taxpayer who subsidise these jabs. Bear this in mind when considering the information being provided and the pressures to extend it beyond at-risk populations.
Good question and you are not the first to have asked this question in recent weeks. I won't tell you what to do, that is something you are going to have to figure out for yourself. Do your own "risk assessment". How at risk are you? Let's reframe the question:
"Gary, will you have a Flu Shot?"
I might have the jab if:
I had chronic health issues, especially if my lungs, heart and circulation were affected.
I am taking immune-weakening drugs such as blood pressure meds, steroids, asthma meds, sinus decongestants, antihistamines, cancer meds, even some birth control pills, NSAIDs and most other pain meds. Any drug that ends with "ine" on the end of the chemical name is suspect, this includes caffeine, nicotine and ephedrine, for example. Be wary of all over-the-counter, self-prescribed drugs, including recreational ones. All of the above have the potential to weaken my immune system. Do not stop any meds without first consulting your health professional.
I am under too much stress, not getting rest during the day and not sleeping well.
I am not getting plenty of Vitamin D-boosting sunlight before Winter sets. I'll be working outside later getting some midday sun.
I am not exercising outside each day no matter the weather (so long as I'm not wasting myself physically each day and not getting adequate recovery!).
I am not regularly eating some iron-rich red meat, free-range eggs, full-cream milk, yellow butter and cheese and the occasional serving of lambs fry, all sources of the immune-supporting fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E&K).
I am not eating brightly coloured and dark vegetables, fruit and berries each day.
If I am not supplementing daily with immune-supporting minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium and others which I have determined I need by testing.
I am not salting my food generously with a multimineral salt (sodium is used by your body as an antibiotic).
I am not self-isolating.
I am not washing my hands often.
I did not care about the fact that aluminium is in the flu shot, thus bypassing our normal body defences that keep these neurotoxins out of our cells (aluminium is one of the smoking guns for the onset of Alzheimer's). Decide for yourself, read these articles here. And Is Aluminium a neurotoxin? And what's in the seasonal flu vaccine? Correction: I am told that this season's flu vaccine does not contain aluminium.
I did not care for the fact that the flu virus is always evolving and the vaccines are always one step behind and may only be partially effective, at best 45% to this coming Winter's flu virus. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/flu-vaccine-selections-suggest-this-years-shot-may-be-off-the-mark/
So, what do you think my answer might be for myself? Will I get the Flu Jab? I'm not telling you. You must make up your own mind to decide if the possible risks and benefits are weighted more for or against you in your special circumstances - not mine. I recommend that you talk about the merits of the jab with your doctor and listen very carefully.
Personally, I have never minded getting colds and flu. At the most, for me - I must emphasise that this is for me - it has meant a few days in bed being a sooky-bubba and getting lots of tender loving care, just like Mummy used to give me when I was a wee child.
While colds and flu are far from welcome and can be most unpleasant, my immune system has always been up to the game and has actually enjoyed the challenge. What I am always reassured of is the fact that giving my immune system a good workout now and then strengthens it. It is the practical application of the theory that exposing oneself to germs strengthens the immune system. What this means, and how I rationalise these infections, is each time I have had an infection and recovered my immune system is just that little bit better prepared for the "killer virus" should it ever arise and infect me.
Might I infect others who are at more risk? Is that not reason enough for me to vaccinate?
In my case, the answer is that it is most unlikely that I will be infecting others, especially right now since we are all self-isolating etc. And 90% of my consultations are by video and the phone these days. I work from home. If I began to fall ill I would not be passing it onto anyone other than my most immediate family. And we are assuming that the vaccine is actually going to be effective for this season's flu.
Just one more thing: if a person has had the flu jab and I'd assume that those who are "high-risk" will be among the first to have this season's, then they should have no problems with being around me if I have not been vaccinated with the same vaccine. Do I really need to be vaccinated if that was the case?
If, on the other hand, I was working with the elderly for example, or in close proximity with lots of people and felt under pressure to continue to use public transport and be at a busy workplace when unwell, then the decision might be swayed another way.
Is being "old" really a risk factor, Gary?
Age has nothing to do with the risk of complications to viral infections. The real risk factor is a compromised immune system due to things like malnutrition, medications, and comorbidities such as COPD or heart failure, all of which just happen to be associated with getting old. There are many very old people who have better immune health than the majority of younger people. I am meeting these people (online) just about every day!