My Yearly Debate: To Get the Flu Shot or NotJessica Cohen
Every year I go through the same internal debate about giving my kids the flu shot, particularly when the media has alarmed us that it is a bad year for the flu. Frankly, I am not a big fan of unnecessarily pumping extra vaccines into my body or into my children. Yet it is the guilt that gets me debating with myself year after year and pulls me in two different directions. This year the flu is widespread in 35 states, and the CDC recommends everyone older than six months receive a shot.
So why isn’t that happening? Are we as a society that is feeling a sense of vaccine overload? Are we becoming too complacent about the flu? Is it perhaps a little of both? Do I give my family the flu shot or not? Do I wait to see if the flu hits their school?
This is a debate that many people feel adamantly about one way or the other. Proponents and medical professionals think it is an absolute must for everyone to get the flu shot. Not surprisingly, so does the CDC. (Naturalists, on the other hand, may take issue with that thought.) It has been estimated that over the past 6 years in this country, approximately 13 million illnesses and over 110,000 hospitalizations may have been avoided by getting the flu vaccine.
In fact, according to the CDC, while an increasing number of children ages 6-17 are getting the flu shot from year to year, the number of adults holds relatively steady from one year to the next. In the 2012-2013 season, 56% of children received a flu shot while 41% of adults did the same.
So do parents feel like if they get their children the flu vaccine they do not need it themselves? Is the media not making it clear precisely who is at the highest risk for the flu? I was curious, so I asked a couple of my friends for their thoughts about the flu vaccine. Do you agree with their responses?
“I feel strongly that everyone should get a flu shot. With the flu rampant this year and people dying, it is an easy way to protect yourself and those around you.” – Andrea Katz, Great Thoughts
“The pediatrician recommends it for the kids – so I do it. My husband’s doctor recommends it for him, so he gets it. Unless I’m at the doctor’s office and she tells me I need to get it – I choose not to get it. I’m not crazy about it one way or the other.” – Hillary Chybinski, My Scraps
“We do not get the flu shot. I personally feel that I run a greater risk of danger, putting all of those ingredients into my body (not knowing what they will do) than I would by catching the flu and being sick. We’re a healthy family, so perhaps I’d feel differently if we weren’t.” – Jennifer Quillen, The Rebel Chick
“We all had to do it this year, due to us spending so much time with my Great Grandma. My husband has to get one every year, due to working so often in hospitals. We do all vaccinations – first because we travel overseas. But also because when my husband was a baby, he almost died of TB. Then in high school, he had Hepatitis. As a result, we don’t mess around.” — Melissa Angert, All Things Chic
“I have strong feelings against it, as I do most vaccinations. There are plenty of natural ways to build up your immune system to fight against the flu.” – Christine Young, From Dates to Diapers
“My kids and I get it every year. There’s virtually no risk involved, and – while we still sometimes get sick – we don’t get the big week or two long illness, even as those around us do.” – Tara Ziegmont, Feels Like Home Blog
Perhaps the next steps should be figuring out why people choose not to get the flu vaccine. Maybe it is not being made clear what exactly is in the vaccine, or why we should be vaccinated year after year?
What about you? Have you and your family been vaccinated yet this year?
Jessica also recently wrote:
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