Are you convinced the flu shot gives you the flu? Do you think you're not at risk? Do you believe the shot is ineffective? Consumer Reports says stop with your namby-pamby flimsy excuses. Here's why:
1. Excuse: It's better to build your own natural immunities (67 percent).
Reality: The body's innate immune response against the flu virus is short-lived, usually just a few months. Moreover, the virus that causes the flu often changes from year to year. So any protection your body develops during one flu season is usually gone by the next. (That also explains why, unlike most other vaccines, you need a fresh flu shot each year.)
2. Excuse: You don't get sick (45 percent).
Reality. Just because you haven't had the flu in the past doesn't mean you won't get it this year. And just one bout of the disease may have you running for the flu shot next year. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year the flu sends some 225,000 people to the hospital, and causes the death of 35,000.
3. Excuse: You or someone you know has gotten sick from the vaccine (41 percent).
Reality: The nasal-spay version of the vaccine (FluMist) is made from a weakened virus, so you can develop at least mild symptoms from it. In fact, the government doesn't recommend the nasal spray for people under 2 or over 49, and we recommend against the nasal spray unless you have a good reason for avoiding the injection. The shot, in contrast, is made from an inactivated virus, so it's impossible to get the disease from it. If you do develop the flu after getting the shot, you were just one of the unlucky ones who were not protected by the vaccination (see question 8 below).
4. Excuse: You are worried about the side effects (35 percent).
Reality: Side effects are uncommon and usually mild, including soreness or redness at the injection site, aches, and mild fever. A small number of people do have a more serious allergic reaction to the shot. And research suggests that roughly 1 out of every 1 million people vaccinated might develop Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder. But the shot's protection against illness, hospitalization, and death far outweighs the risk. Still, if you've had Guillain-Barre syndrome, avoid the spray vaccine and discuss with your doctor whether to get a shot. Finally, there is no convincing evidence linking the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal with autism or other health problems. However, if you're concerned, ask for a preservative-free vaccine, such as Fluzone.
5. Excuse: You're not part of an at-risk population (29 percent).
Reality: The flu shot is especially important for certain groups of people—including pregnant women, those over age 50, and anyone with weakened immunity or chronic illness. But if you've been in a movie theater, or a crowded elevator, or a shopping mall, you're at risk too.
6. Excuse: Medicine is now available for treating the flu (28 percent).
Reality: For the antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) to work, you have to start taking them within two days of the onset of symptoms. Even then, the drugs typically shorten the duration by only a day or so.
7. Excuse: You don't like getting shots (27 percent).
Reality. Many people find that lying down for their shots helps them relax. And rising up slowly afterward helps prevent fainting, a problem that occurs in a small percentage of people who get the shot. Or, if necessary, talk with your doctor about getting the nasal spray.
8. Excuse: It's ineffective (26 percent).
Reality: The shot generally prevents the flu in about 60 percent of healthy people in their 60s, though that varies depending on how well the vaccine matches the virus that actually emerges. And it has been shown to reduce hospitalizations from pneumonia or other complications by 27 to 70 percent, and deaths by up to 80 percent. Younger adults and children typically benefit even more from the shots, though for maximum protection children under the age of 9 who have not been previously vaccinated should receive two shots over the course of the season. People of any age who are frail or suffer from a chronic disease typically get somewhat less protection from the shot—though the benefits for them still vastly outweigh the risks.
9: Excuse: You don't like going to the doctor (23 percent).
Reality: You don't have to. Nearly a quarter of the people in our survey got the shot at work. Seven percent got the shot at a pharmacy. Health fairs run by insurance companies, colleges, or public-health clinics also often offer the vaccine.
10. Excuse: It costs too much (11 percent).
Reality: Nearly two-thirds of the people in our survey had no out-of-pocket expenses, and 90 percent of those who did had to pay less than $30.
11. Excuse: You don't have the time (16 percent).
Reality: It usually takes just a few minutes, especially if you get it done at work, a pharmacy, or a health fair.
12. Excuse: You would rather get sick than go to work (5 percent).
Reality: Time to look for a new job.
hehe. The last one made me chuckle. Thanks Consumer Reports. So did this convince anyone out there to get a flu shot?
(photo from ConsumerReports.org)