Causal relations take a while to figure out when they are complex, and the Flu shot’s reputation spirals down every few minutes from trails of misinformation or misunderstanding. Which is pretty bad when people stop taking the shot, especially if you happen to have a sub par immune system susceptible to the disease.
Just so you know, I think we all should get this shot as soon as it comes out… Also… I’m not a doctor… nor do I represent any pharmaceutical companies… And sometimes I forget to get the shot until later in the year…
But I still think it’s important and often misunderstood.
First and foremost: You cannot get the flu from the the flu vaccine.
It’s a dead virus in the vaccine. It’s not going to transform into the live vaccine, and while the old vaccine had flu like symptoms, the new one should only give you a little knot in the arm. A little tiredness and a sore spot on your arm is all you get. How fun is that.
The nasal mist has a live virus, but even so it wont give you the flu.
Second: Correlation and Causation
Getting a cold the day after you get the flu shot does not mean the flu shot got you sick. Getting the flu or something like flu right after you get the shot doesn’t mean the flu shot got you sick. First, it takes two weeks for the shot to kick in, and second, the vaccine works against a few select strains of the virus. This means that it doesn’t protect against all types of flu and you can still get the flu that’s covered for two weeks.
Correlations is not causation. In other words, getting sick after you get the flu shot does not equate to the flu shot being the cause. There are plenty of infections around this time year that go around like wild fire. The flu is one of them, and a particularly bad one.
Third: The Flu is Actually Dangerous
Flu is a particularly dangerous disease. More people died of flu after WWI than died in the whole of the war. It’s estimated that around 36 k people die of the flu in the United States by a group of Harvard researchers. Those wonderful Harvard folks also tell us nearly 200 k people are hospitalized. Flu hits the elderly (over 65), the young, and those with compromised immune systems.
Now picture infections going in chains of people. It’s sort of like seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, only with disease being spread as part of the chain. This means the flu and some other diseases can spread exponentially, and it is also why despite the virulence of the ebola virus the flu kills more people. Those with ebola on average spread it to two people, with flu that number can double.
When you get the vaccine and it works, you stop the flu in it’s tracks. In other words, the more people with the vaccine the fewer people die or end up in the hospital. The flu shot protects not you, but the people around you from getting the flu.
So get your flu shot… Please.
Now that my wife has just recovered from her bought with the flu, I’m just thankful for my shot and my youngest daughter’s shot that’s kept us from getting it so far. Also, I’m thankful for tamiflu. That stuffs pretty amazing.