Flu Shots: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? That is the Question!

I take pride in my good health.  I come from hardy German and Australian stock and my family is not prone to sickness.   A healthy diet and regular exercise is important to my routine.  Sleep, which I have written about recently, is of utmost importance so I strive for the 8.5 hours that the research says is necessary for healthful living and top performance.

So imagine my surprise and dismay when one morning recently soreness settled into my muscles and fatigue plagued me.  Of course, these symptoms were to be quickly followed up by an elevated temperature, runny nose, cough, and scratchy throat.  Within a day or so, I went from big weekend plans on the river to a case of the flu!  

Curiosity about my particular condition, since remember I am “never sick”, drove me to the internet and various sources such as the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).  An abundance of information was soon at my fingertips which included answers to several questions that I had and you may also be pondering.  

Let’s review some of these general questions that may come to mind when making the decision on whether to obtain the flu vaccination.   

  • How do I know that the flu vaccine will prevent the flu virus that I may come in contact with this year?
    • There are certainly thousands of flu types that differ slightly in their makeup so the WHO determines which 3-4 virus strains that this year’s vaccine should target.  Now, you could actually come in contact with a virus that is not prevented by this year’s flu shot but obtaining the vaccine should help reduce the severity of your flu that is not covered by this particular vaccine.  
  • Can I catch the flu from this flu vaccination?  
    • No, the flu vaccine does contain some of the genetic materials of various viruses so that they can circulate in your blood but the viruses are dead!  These antigens stimulate the body’s immune system to build up resistance to many flu variants but the flu vaccine cannot cause an active flu. Even the nasal spray, which is a weaker version of protection, cannot give you the flu.
  • Should I worry about what else could be lurking in this year’s flu shot?
    • No, the genetic materials of various viruses are combined with a mixture of mainly sugar, water, and egg protein.   There is a trace amount of preservative to support the vaccine which dissolves in the body in a matter of weeks.
  • If I go ahead and get the vaccine, does it become effectively immediately against influenza?
    • No, it takes about two weeks from the time of the vaccination for it to become effective. Utilize good hand washing techniques and don’t eat or drink after people who are sick.  Get the right amount of rest, diet, and exercise to maintain your health.
  • Should I ask my doctor before getting the flu vaccine?
    • Some people should definitely check in with their physician prior to getting the vaccine.  If you have had a reaction before, if you are very ill, or if you have some other compromising disease, please check with your physician before moving ahead.

“To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?”  So, if that is the question, you can bet I will sign on for the yearly flu shot!  How about taking care of you and getting the vaccine too?


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