Should We Get The
Flu Vaccine?

By Athena, one of our contacts in
South Florida, USA

Sal-Om all,

I know that there is some hesitation to get the flu vaccine. However, like everything else, we have to study the facts and reflect on them.

If those of us who are able to get the vaccine, get the vaccine, then we are also helping those who are unable to get the vaccine (due to lack of access, lack of funding, health issues, those under the age of 6 months, etc.). When we prevent the disease from growing in us, we are one less person who can pass it on, and are therefore protecting those who cannot get the vaccine.

Do not get the vaccine if you have a temperature or if you are not feeling well. Also, remember that it takes 2 weeks for you to develop immunity after you get the vaccine, so try to get it before the flu hits your area.

If you are over 60 and/or have a chronic condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart problems, you may want to consider getting the pneumococcal vaccine as well. It needs to be renewed every 5 years, and is 60-70% effective in preventing pneumonia caused by the Streptococcus bacteria.

Although I do not fit the profile of above 60 or a chronic condition, I have been very ill with bronchitis several times in the past, and know that my upper respiratory system is my weakness. Put me in a moldy room and I start to wheeze. If it is freezing weather outside I cough. So I know that if my immune system was ever compromised or I was in the hospital, I would be at risk for getting pneumonia. Because of this, I make sure to get the pneumococcal vaccine every 5 years.

Therefore, we have to take the information written by knowledgeable people like doctors and scientists, reflect and meditate on our own body's needs, strengths, and weaknesses, and see what advice we should follow and how. For instance, I did not get the H1N1 vaccine last year because the production was so rushed that I did not trust it. I also heard from my colleagues at work about some people who got sick from the vaccine in both Florida and Europe. Instead, I was very careful about hand hygiene, wore a mask at work whenever possible, and avoided crowded places as much as possible. The good thing is that the H1N1 virus hit while children were out of school, because little children share everything from cookies to germs.

This year's flu vaccine is a 3 in 1 (protects against 3 different flu strains) and does have the H1N1 vaccine, but it is not the same one as last year.

I get the vaccine every year for several reasons:

  1. I would rather take the day off from work to go on vacation than spend it sick in bed.

  2. Every time I caught a cold or a flu in the past, it went straight to my upper respiratory system, making me cough and hack for many weeks. Coughing like that can create scar tissue on the lungs.

  3. I protect those around me when I do not get sick.

I get my vaccines at Walgreens (an American drugstore chain) because there is no need to make an appointment. This year's vaccine is already out and is a 3 in 1. It costs $30 and Medicare B almost always covers it (as do many other health insurance plans). I had mine a few weeks ago and only waited 10 minutes, and I got a 30% discount off any purchase that day because I got the flu shot.

May this year be your healthiest ever. For some more information on the flu vaccine, see this flyer from the CDC (PDF format).



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