Rethinking Flu Vaccines

I spent a lot of time researching vaccines. I developed a detailed schedule specifically for Peanut after doing this research. I feel like I thoroughly prepared myself to make the decisions I have regarding Peanut’s vaccines. The problem is there’s only so much you can decide from reading a paper.

We have the flu.

It started for me on Friday. Friday night I woke twice as often as Peanut (who was waking more often than normal too). I hardly remember Saturday besides feeling like I was hit by a truck and I also slept awful that night. Sunday continued to feel like death and sadly, so did Peanut too. Actually, she was grumpy and obviously sick, but didn’t really ever seem to feel like she was dying like I did. I’ll go ahead and contribute a bit of that to mama’s milk (another post for another day).

We wouldn’t have even gone to the doctor, but Peanut had a fever of 102, so I called the nurse. She said we should get her in immediately because it sounded like the flu and you can only give anti-viral medication for a short period of time. The only real benefit for that visit is that we got antibiotics for her ear infection, but that’s even kind of pushing it because I probably wouldn’t have given her antibiotics for a minor ear infection if I was in my right mind. They gave us a prescription for anti-virals and in my delirious state, I was ready to give them to her. Luckily my husband was not-so-delirious and said to me “We’ve avoiding giving her medication as much as possible for this long, do we really need to give her this with all of these possible side effects?” So we didn’t give it to her. She did test positive for influenza a while we were there.

After her visit we went to the doctor for me. I was having trouble breathing because of my asthma. I got chest x-rays and I have a small case of pneumonia. I’ve been slowly feeling better, but I still don’t feel great at all. The doctor said that with the pneumonia I’ll be coughing for 2-3 weeks. Exactly what I need at school.

The biggest part is the lack of going into society. The internet says that adults should stay inside for a week after they started getting sick, but the after hours doctor we went to on Sunday said 3-5 days depending on how you feel. For Peanut though, her doctor said 7-10 days because kids are contagious longer. This means that we will miss over a full week of appointments. That’s rescheduling picking up our half a cow, music class, my school for a week (the second week of the semester, which makes me look great to my teachers), my doctor appointment, our dog training (can’t reschedule that), Daddy’s basketball game, Toddler LLL, and possibly messing up Squeed’s mom’s first day of her class that we’re supposed to watch Squeed for depending on whether or not she wants to risk getting sick by letting us watch her Thursday. Considering I don’t even work and only go to school part-time, a week off still screws up life.

So this all makes me re-think our decision to not vaccinate against the flu. People on Twitter are telling me I would have probably gotten sick anyway because it doesn’t entirely protect you and doesn’t always protect against the right flu. This was the original conclusion I came to also, but I almost wonder if it would be better to just decrease it or have a chance of not getting it. I don’t know. I’ve also always thought of myself as a healthy adult that’s in a low-risk category, but my asthma obviously makes that not so. So am I willing to get pneumonia again? I’m certainly not excited to cough like this for the next 3 weeks.

So has anyone out there actually gotten the flu and still decided not to vaccinate against it? Or possibly getting the flu did change your mind about vaccinating?


15 thoughts on “Rethinking Flu Vaccines

  1. Saying “you still could get the flu even if you’re vaccinated, so we aren’t going to vaccinate” is basically like saying “you could still get hurt in a car accident when you’re wearing your seatbelt, so we don’t bother with the seatbelt.”

    Here’s what the CDC says:

    I’ve learned not to bother trying to convince people about their kids, but if I were an asthmatic, I would absolutely, positively, no doubt about it get a flu shot. There’s no real way to ever know, but if I were a betting person I’d say you could have avoided catching pneumonia.

    So there’s that. But another big reason I vaccinate and get my daughter (8 months) vaccinated is not just for us but for the other people in our life who are immunocompromised, namely her two grandparents undergoing cancer treatment. The last thing in the world they need right now is a case of the flu.

    • I would say the problem with your analogy is that the seat belt won’t hurt you, but the vaccine has the potential to.

      I also see why it would be good to get vaccinated if you have immunocompromised people in your immediate family, but at the same time, you could still get them sick. I would say it’s more important to realize when you’re getting sick and stay away rather than protecting them from one of the many, many illnesses you could give them over the course of a winter.

  2. I’ve gotten the flu and still choose not to vaccinate. well, except this year. I was required to for the Clinical Lab Science program. The flu vaccine only protects you against 3 strains of the flu, when there are hundreds of them. Not to say that it is a waste or anything, The 3 they vaccinate you on are most common or severe strains for that year. My reason may sound stupid to some people, but personally I would rather have the flu. Because the flu shot hurts like a bitch. Also I like being sick cause you lose weight. huzzzah. I also have a craptastic immune system so I actually get it quite often, even the whimpy strains can knock me out. I’d sing a different tune if I had children of my own though. I’d like them to be protected.

    • I didn’t know that it only does 3 strains. That’s definitely something to take into account. I did hear that they’re just guessing with what the flu will be like in the future year, so sometimes the bad flu ends up being one that isn’t in the vaccine at all.

  3. My sister gets the flu vaccine for her and her children every year. Every year they get the flu. She says it’s worth it.

    I, on the other hand, never get the vaccine (and never will, I am TERRIFIED of needles) and the last time I had the flu was years and years ago. Now, I don’t have a toddler in preschool and my sister does, so I don’t think we’re as exposed to germs as she is.

    I guess what I’m saying is I’m not sure the flu vaccine makes that big of a difference. You can get it to make yourself feel better, or you can not get it to make yourself feel better. Maybe the focus should be more on building healthy immune systems through healthy eating? I really don’t know.

  4. I am a faithful flu shot getter myself. I can only recall getting the flu once, about 15 years ago, when I have had the shot.

    My whole family (myself and my two adult children) had H1N1 last year, before the vaccine was available, and we were terribly sick. It was months before we felt back to our old selves. My son and I started anti-virals within 24 hours; he and I did not get nearly as sick as my daughter.

    She came down with it first, over a weekend, and it took a couple of days to figure out what it was, so she didn’t start the anti-virals until about the third day and was significantly sicker than either my son or I was.

    My advice? Get the shot, take the medicine.

    • With the anti-viral medication, the doctor made it very clear that we needed to consider the risks and decide if we should give it to her. She almost seemed like she wanted to tell us not to take it, but couldn’t say it. I could be wrong though.

  5. I don’t get the flu vaccine. The only two times I got the vaccine, I got very sick with the flu. My thoughts are that it actually lowers your immune system, leaving you open to pick up viruses. I don’t know, but I rarely get sick. My family chooses not to get the flu vaccine either.

    Take Vitamin D! We take 5,000 iu a day. Our chiropractor suggested it and it really does work when it comes to boosting your immune system! He said that when you are getting sick to double your dose. Although, I don’t think you are supposed to take over 10,000 iu and you shouldn’t take more than 6,000 iu regularly – as far as I am aware.

    • I honestly wonder if part of the reason that we got the flu this year is that our diets went to crap with me being in school last semester. I’ll definitely look into increasing vitamin D. I’ve heard that A is also very good for the immune system.

  6. I am required by work to get the flu shot. I have had it without fail every single year since I can remember-except this year. Yeah, I’ve had a few not-so-fun colds, but usually by now I would’ve been attempting to recover. I think they’re worth it.

  7. I personally choose against getting the flu vaccine because I don’t believe the risks are worth it. However we are careful about hand washing and we do take other preventative measures. We do a daily regime of Elderberry Extract, Olive Leaf Tincture, and Vitamin C. I have a 2yr old and a 1yr old and all these things are safe for them to take. It seems to be working because none of us have been sick at all, which really surprises me because my husband works as a custodian for a grade school and my mother-in-law is a teacher. Herbs maybe something to look in to for you and your family, especially Elderberry(it’s a natural anti-viral).

    • That’s a great idea! I’d love to not get sick at all. Is there a book or something that you recommend about taking herbs to prevent illness?

      • Sorry I have no book suggestions for you, I’ve just done a ton of research online and have just gotten information from other people who use herbs regularly. I’m sure there are some great books out there tho and if you find one, let me know! lol

  8. I’ve chosen not to get the flu shot based on quite a lot.
    1.) When my daughter was 6 months old, she got her 1st (and only) flu shot. She was in the hospital 2 weeks later with double pneumonia that, the doctors said, had developed from the flu. So, I said never again.
    2.) Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, I know who has gotten the flu shot has gotten the flu soon after. I’m not talking flu like symptoms a couple days later. I’m talking full blown flu about a week or two later.
    3.) My friend, who is in the top of his class, in med school even advised me against the flu shot because of how it’s manufactured. He was saying that in order to reproduce the flu virus, they attach it to a cancer cell (because cancer doesn’t stop reproducing). He said that “there is no way they can completely separate the flu virus from the cancer cell”.

    There are many other reasons, but they are too numerous to list. Those are just the “Big 3” in my book.
    Not to mention, I’ve never had the flu shot and I’ve never had the flu. *knock on wood*

  9. Pingback: Flu Vaccine Decisions « The Adventures of Lactating Girl

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