If I can do it, so can you, unless you have a valid medical reason not to.
You literally cannot get the flu from a flu vaccine, so do not tell me how you have, in the past. That’s called “having a healthy immune response to the vaccine,” and some people do feel a bit ill while making antibodies – but it ain’t the flu. It won’t kill you. The flu vaccine (other than the kind called “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV4)” – which is that lovely nasal mist version that does not involve needles) contains a killed version of the flu viruses it’s intended to prevent. The virus in the flu vaccine that’s injected into your arm is dead. It cannot cause the flu. Period. End of story. Do not argue this with me in the comments because it’s a stupid argument.
Sure, you can still get the flu later if you are exposed to the flu virus (or were, just before getting the vaccine). Or, if you are exposed to a flu variant that isn’t what vaccine makers gambled on being the prevalent strains in a given year. Lucky you. It happens. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, because I know it’s adding insult to injury to get vaccinated and still get the flu. And that does happen – but it’s not from the vaccine.
Flu viruses are constantly changing so it’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. For more information about how flu viruses change, visit How the Flu Virus Can Change.
If you get the vaccine, and still get the flu, you will have all my sympathy and every right to bitch and moan. But it’s still no excuse not to get yourself vaccinated, this year or next.
But back to me. See, I’m needlephobic. Not just a little, but a lot. Phobias are not rational things, so telling me how “painless” it is, or that “it’ll only take a second” isn’t helpful. Telling me not to watch is even less helpful; if I don’t watch, the needle becomes a malevolent thing of nightmare proportions. Holy crap, the needle they use is long enough, in reality – I don’t need it turning rusty, growing fangs, and sprouting a malicious personality, to boot. I can’t watch others get injections, even on TV.
Guess which scene in the movie, SAW, bothered me most?
Ironically, I have to give myself injections, now, daily, to counter early osteoporosis. My mother had severe osteoporosis, so a little daily pinprick – in the abdomen, no less – is a small price to pay in the war against that nasty ailment. Doesn’t hurt, but steeling my nerves to do it still takes about five minutes, during which I’m reduced to the mental age of five and have to give myself a lollipop. And that needle’s only about as long as my fingernail is wide, and as thick as an eyelash.
The flu vaccine needle – holy crap, how did she not hit bone?
OK, enough about me, but if I could do it… well, it helps to have a pharmacist who’s good with a needle stick, notices you’re due for one, and calls you at home to remind you after making you commit to coming back on the weekend to get it… helps to have a pharmacist who knows you, knows that look horses get when their eyes roll back, and knows you’d make up ten dead grandmothers’ funerals to get out of it, but won’t back out if you say the words, “YES, I PROMISE.”
I wish I were joking.
Just go get the damned flu shot. It’s important enough to public health that most of us can get one for free. It may inconvenience you, it may hurt a little, and it may even provoke a strong immune response that makes you feel like crap for a day. Sure, it may not even protect you against that one weird strain of the virus you are unlucky enough to encounter in the wild. But if it does, it not only protects you, it protects your family; it protects people who legitimately can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons; it protects the whole community. Did you know that 675,000 people in the USA, and 50 million people worldwide died in the 1918 influenza pandemic? So go, be a hero. Get the flu shot.
Most medical professionals and parents believe there’s a good reason to subject babies to a whole bunch of vaccines from birth through college. Assuming you’re not an anti-vaxxer, don’t tell me you’re going to weasel out of a little annual flu shot? Not on my watch. I haven’t forgotten my last bout of the flu. I remember feeling like I had a cold, about the time I got to my husband’s annual company party. By the time we left, I was burning up – so hot I couldn’t get warm and my teeth were chattering. I don’t remember getting out of the car, walking into our bedroom, or crawling into bed. I don’t remember the next three days. I woke up knowing I’d talked to God, himself. And you know what he said? I can’t tell you, because after three days, as the ability to speak coherently gradually returned to my mouth, I forgot the secret He revealed to me about how to achieve world peace in our lifetimes.*
But I’m pretty sure He whispered, as I returned to life, “Get the @#$%ing flu shot, next time, unless you want to stay here.”
I’m a believer.
* Yes, seriously. I woke up speaking gibberish, determined to spread God’s word. I thought I’d had a stroke. I was trying to tell my husband what God said, and while it sounded perfectly rational and normal in my brain, I could hear my mouth making sounds like someone speaking in tongues. As I gradually regained the ability to speak, over the next few minutes, I also forgot the “secret” that I was convinced God had revealed to me, as if I really were being prevented from sharing it for some reason. All I could remember – and it was so funny that all I could do was laugh – is that it was idiot simple. After much thought, I’m convinced it was just, “Be good to each other.” Well, God, that’s so much easier said than done, apparently.
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