Taking A Shot At The Flu Vaccine
Wednesday - November 02, 2005
The headline blares, “Everyone urged to get flu shot now.” As someone who has not had a flu shot in 43 years, and not contracting the virus, I could not believe medical directives were being made by the media. The headline was not inaccurate, but as a directive it made me uneasy.
First of all, the recommendation to get a flu shot is based on speculation surrounding the “threat” of avian flu. This viral infection is the malady du jour and is the basis for headlines being generated by medical authorities, politicians and pharmaceutical companies. There have been isolated cases of the “bird” flu, but the number of actual cases have been eclipsed by the dramatic images of the culling of bird stock.
I can appreciate being vigilant and aware, but to drive healthy individuals into a vacci-nation based on highly speculative information seems inappropriate. “No one has a pre-existing immunity” to bird flu, said Steve Monroe, associate director of laboratory science for the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. “We are all susceptible.” Monroe went on to say, “We are encouraging everyone to get their seasonal vaccinations this year.”
Let’s see. We are all being “encouraged” to take a vaccine because there may be a chance to contract avian flu. It is my understanding that in order to contract avian flu, you must come into direct contact with an infected bird. How many times have you come into contact with any dead bird, unless it’s wrapped in plastic at your local grocery store? More importantly, in order for the avian virus to be passed human to human, the avian strain must find a pre-existing host virus to facilitate a mutation. Until this cellular transformation takes place, you won’t contract avian flu. The chances of the Cubs winning the World Series are better.
How many of you have never had a flu shot? Lots, I would imagine. Have you even contracted the prevalent strain of influenza - ever? I would dare say most of you have not. Even if you have, is it good public policy to use these tactics to convince otherwise healthy people to participate? I don’t think so.
According to the CDC, influenza vaccine side-effects risks include fever, malaise and myalgia (muscle pain). These sound exactly like the symptoms of, yes, the flu. In more extreme cases, however, there can be an allergic reaction which has proven to be fatal. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a possibility, too. This is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body starts attacking itself. In severe cases, paralysis and death may occur.
Instead of urging the introduction of a potentially ineffective and harmful vaccine, I would support the government urging us to optimize our natural immune system. We are blessed with the abilities to combat illness and disease by being healthy and responsible. I am concerned with those who have compromised immune systems running out to get a flu shot without the benefit of precise medical advice. Although it may be convenient to get a shot at shopping mall, are you making the right decision for you or your family?
You know I am not a medical professional. But I urge you to do some research and engage health professionals in conversations about the merits and demerits of influenza vaccines. I am making decisions best for me and my family based upon specific information from credible sources. I certainly am not going to act on a newspaper headline with a story rife with speculation. The stakes are too high.
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