As a practicing primary care physician, I have three main roles. Number one: to listen to my patients. Number two: to teach, dispense advice, and reassure. Number three: to diagnose medical problems and treat appropriately. I am asked about many different health related issues, from important questions like “what diet should I be on,” “what cholesterol medication is the best,” and “how do I prevent cancer,” to more colorful questions like “how did I get pregnant?” and “how do I know if I have parasites in my brain?” I hear it all; good, bad, ugly, and scary! However, no issue in recent years has generated as many questions and controversy as vaccines in general, but in particular, the Influenza vaccine, or Flu Shot. I’m not quite sure why or how this has come to pass, but the Flu shot has been vilified by the lay media, internet, and community at large. Part of this is due to the unfortunate and faulty journal article published back in the 1980’s linking the MMR vaccine to autism. That article has since been retracted, but the damage has been done. That is a sad story for another day; maybe I will write more about it in the future. But for now let’s focus on the Flu Shot!
I thought I would start with the top reasons I get from my patients as to why they have decided not to get a flu shot. Maybe some of these will sound familiar to you!
These all sound pretty legit, right? If I heard all of those statements, you can bet I would think twice about getting the flu shot! The trouble is, that these are all based on either faulty information or faulty logic. When I was looking on the internet for pictures to use for this article, I of course found hundreds, but thought I would share these to illustrate a few points:
The first picture is fairly self-explanatory right? It seems logical, you received a shot, a subsequent illness or issue arises, so you attribute it to the shot, even though there is literally no way that illness came from the shot (or in this case pregnancy!).
The second picture is trickier, because it sounds like it might be correct! This is just to illustrate that there are lots of things out there on the internet that sound perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately the science here is not correct, meaning the Flu shot has nothing whatsoever to do with the evolution of the Flu virus itself (but inappropriate use of medication does!)
So, here is the truth. The down and dirty, legit facts about the Flu shot.
So, the Bottom Line…..
Get your Flu Shot! It’s safe, it’s not going to make you sick, it will likely prevent you and those around you from getting sick, and it’s just a good idea!! Your medical professional will thank you for making an informed decision! The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all people > 6 mos old receive the Flu vaccine! Just do it! The Flu itself is miserable, trust me, and you don’t want it!!
For more information, go to the Centers for Disease Control website, CDC.gov, or talk to your doctor!
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