Flu Shot or Not?

With all the controversy about whether vaccinations are safe it raises the question as to whether a flu shot is a necessary medical intervention.  We have all probably been seeing the flu shot booths at Walmart and Walgreens, perhaps you have been encouraged to get one yourself or give one to your child.  In some ways it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in a world where there are far too many needless antibiotics and we are on the verge of a superbug you may wonder what your choice on the flu shot should be.  This post isn’t meant to focus on childhood vaccinations just the flu shot.  So here it goes hopefully this will give you some needed info and help you make the right decision for your family.

My personal experience with this shot has been hit or miss.  My husband who is in the military has gotten a flu shot every year, sometimes he ends up getting the flu anyway, sometimes he doesn’t.  When I was pregnant with my son I opted out of the flu shot that was offered to me by my OB and ended up getting a horrible case of the flu that landed me in the hospital and starting preterm labor.  Luckily they were able to stop it but it was a pretty harrowing experience.  Yesterday at my prenatal appointment I was asked if I would like to get a flu shot.  I know it may not protect me from getting sick again but because of my past experience I happily said yes.  I however did not get the shot while not pregnant nor have I taken my son to get the shot, or the chicken pox one either though I will eventually.  The thing is I can’t totally be sure whether it was the right choice, but either way I had to choose.  Every Time you pass that Walmart stand you are choosing too.

How does the Flu Shot Work: “The flu shot is comprised of whichever three strains of the virus the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes will be the biggest threat to Americans’ health that year.  The CDC bases this decision on which flu viruses were most common in China and Australia during the previous year.  When making the vaccines, the chosen viruses are rendered inactive, or “killed”, and grown in chicken eggs.  Antibiotics and various additives such as Triton X-100, formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, gelatin and thimerosal may also be added to preserve the killed virus and make it work more effectively. Then, once the vaccine is ready, it is either injected into the body via a shot or inhaled via a nasal spray. The nasal spray form of the vaccination features a weakened live form of the virus rather than a killed one.” (E-How)  Once the dead virus is inside of your system it stimulates your immune system to build a tolerance making you less likely to be affected by a live virus.  I don’t feel particularly comfortable about having those things in my body but at the same time if you are at a high risk for getting the flu or passing it to someone high risk it may be worth it.

Who is at a High Risk: Infants, Children, the Elderly and Pregnant women are the most at risk for the flu due to the fact that their immune systems are more fragile.  If you work in an environment where you may be more exposed to illness you are also at risk and also have a higher risk of passing it on.  For instance if you are a teacher, work in a hospital or are a cashier you may be at an increased risk of having contact with the Influenza Virus.

Reasons Not to Get the Shot: You are allergic to eggs.  Children under six months should not get the shot, you have a history or allergic reaction to this vaccination.  As always this is a personal decision obviously if you are delayed vaxing or have other concerns with vaccines your list of why nots may be much longer.

Here is some very helpful info on what to do to minimize the risk of the flu as well as how to deal with children who may become infected.  http://www.flu.gov/individualfamily/parents/index.html There is also lots more information on this site to help you make your decision.

Whether you decide to get the Flu Shot or not there are things you can do to minimize your risk of catching influenza, a cold, or any other contagious illness.

1. Wash your Hands! Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you.  You could catch an illness by working closely with someone who is sick but you could also get it from the debit machine pin pad.  By keeping your hands clean you are less likely to spread the illness to yourself or loved ones.

2.If you have young children be careful of the exposure you allow during the flu season.  A newborn shouldn’t be out at the store during prime seasons for illness, have your husband do the shopping instead.  Great Aunt Agatha may want to cuddle that new bundle but if you know she was just ill you may have to be the bad guy and say no.  Church, if you are a regular church goer then you may be familiar with the practice that many churches have of going around and shaking every body’s hands.  This would be a good time for that hand sanitizer, also if you have a very young child use that time to go out for a nursing session or diaper change.  Everybody wants to tickle your cutie and pinch their little apple cheeks, but you will be the one up at 2 am while your toddler or baby is sick.

3. Eat and Sleep Well.  Nothing stops sickness in its tracks like a good diet and lots of rest so don’t skimp on giving your body the fighting power it needs.

Feel free to share your own experiences or opinions on the Flu Shot.

About Jazz

Jazz is mommy to a busy toddler, Axel, that she babywears, cloth diapers, attachment parents and feeds organically. Between being mom and wife to Stephen, a nursing student and Navy Corpsman, she is getting ready to work on her graduate degree in Indigenous Studies. Jazz loves all things natural and can't wait to bring more beautiful blessings into the world and grow her eco-happy family!
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