The influenza vaccine has become a yearly ritual for many concerned about their health. Better known simply as the flu shot, the vaccine is cooked up with several strains of the flu virus and grown inside of fertilized eggs. People with egg allergies certainly should not partake of the touted cure-all for the winter bug. For vegans, the vaccine goes against any dietary restrictions and choices of a meat, dairy and egg-free diet. The production of the man-made medicine is manufactured inside of eggs and is promoted as preventative and pro-active in the health industry.
While seniors line up at the local discount drug store for the traditional shot, the risks are rarely discussed or considered. No prescription is needed and vaccines carry their own immunity to lawsuits. The playing field is leveled with promotions for in-store discounts, happy nurses, and a feeling of unity with others. Always a guaranteed ice breaker at the coffee shop, “Did you get your flu shot?”, satisfied patrons often have no ill effects. The time spent in line or waiting for new supplies of the vaccine to arrive hardly compare to the cost and actual procedure of the shot.
People go willingly like monkey see, monkey do and brag to their friends that they have received the shot and are all set for the winter. Warnings for the vaccine are in fine print, but bold in nature when they occur in people with egg allergies, people with chronic disease and those with low immune systems. The cost without insurance is still affordable, with receptors paying an average of $15. The shot can cost as much as $60, however.
The health industry has done their homework and promotes the recommended vaccine well. The flu is a virus, not a disease and can be easily prevented with ongoing good health, avoidance of crowds and regular hand washing. Unfortunately there are risks associated with the popular flu shot. Many companies spread their employees out between inoculations to ensure their business continues to run without much interruption with days off work. Adverse side effects of the flu shot can include runny nose, sore throat, headache, swelling at the shot site and rash. Even more serious is the possibility of Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome which can cause weakness and paralysis in the body. In extreme cases, the flu shot can result in death.
Before this season’s premiere of the new and improved vaccine, testing on seniors included giving them a stronger variation called Fluzone. It was quietly reported that 23 died from the vaccine during testing of Fluzone, which was four times stronger than the normal dose of the vaccine. The flu shot should be done only with individual analysis of ones health. It is a suggested vaccine, but one that is not needed by everyone.
Influenza is a virus, not an ongoing condition or disease. Viruses generally run their course with little disruption in life, as opposed to diseases that require treatments and ongoing care. Preventative health care is good to an extent, but is not always a guarantee. Polio and smallpox have been eradicated for the most part around the world, but cancer, leukemia, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease still rear their ugly heads. Influenza seems pale in comparison, so forking out the dollars for a flu shot, as many do, may only pad the wallets of those behind the so called needed shot in the arm.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon