Ah flu season… everyone’s favourite time of year (after tax season of course).
It seems that the second someone sneezes, everybody is rushing to get their yearly vaccine – but what if we told you the influenza vaccine wasn’t actually as great as it’s cracked up to be?
Of course we’ll let you make up your mind for yourself, but just in case, here are our 5 compelling arguments against the flu vaccine that may make you think twice.
They Really Aren’t That Effective
Getting the flu shot does not guarantee you won’t get the flu – it isn’t some magical cure.
And while no one (or at least no one with common sense) would assume that it is, most people, myself included prior to some personal research, would at least like to believe that the vaccine is effective to some relatively high degree.
But did you know that the flu shot is often not even 50% effective?
In fact, according to the United States government, the influenza vaccine is at best only 60% effective.
And that’s at best.
During the 2014/2015 flu season, the vaccine was only 19% effective. Yep – 19%.
Underwhelming. We know.
The Ingredient List Will Shock You
We are going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve never taken the time to research the ingredients that go into the vaccine (or have ever even really given a thought to the topic at all).
You check the ingredients on the food you buy at the grocery shop right? This is because you want to know what you are putting into your body.
A vaccine should be given the same consideration.
Lucky for us, the CDC provides an information page listing all of the additives typically included in the influenza vaccination here.
To give you a little overview, here are some of the things you can expect to be entering your body when you opt in to the flu vaccine:
- Aluminum gels or salts of aluminum
- Thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative!)
- Egg Protein
It’s important you know what you are putting into your body – especially if you have particular allergies or are known to have particular reactions to certain substances.
There Are (Better) Natural Alternatives
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to try and avoid coming in contact with influenza – measures which are mainly just common sense and normal hygiene practices. Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, many people don’t bother with these preventative measures, which only increases the spread of the flu (and, unfortunately, many other bacteria and viruses as well).
Whether you have gotten the flu shot or not, try following these basic measures to try and keep the flu at a distance:
- Wash your hands regularly – with soap!
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is already ill
- Please, PLEASE, cover your mouth and nose while you sneeze (and not with your hand!!) Use a tissue, or sneeze into the crook of your elbow if you must.
- Strengthen your immune system by drinking enough water, keeping active, eating nutritionally, and getting an adequate amount of sleep.
- Take your vitamins! Vitamin D in particular has been found to protect against respiratory infections, including cold and flu. (You’ll notice the flu is prominent during a time of year where both our sunlight exposure, and therefore Vitamin D levels, are lacking).
In addition to these preventative measures, you can also try incorporating these healthy and natural immune systems boosters into your diet: elderberries, Echinacea, and ginseng.
The Flu Isn’t Even As Threatening As We’re Led to Believe
The media likes to exaggerate: we all know this.
But why would something like a flu shot have to be exaggerated?
Because it’s a product.
Those who created it and are going to be making profit off of it and therefore want it to sell. As a result, the media outlets advertising for it, the healthcare professionals advocating for it, and the pharmacies administering it, are going to tell you that you need it.
To convince you of such, they use scare tactics, of a sort.
According to the CDC there have been, on average, over 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths caused by the flu each year over the last decade. But these numbers aren’t facts – they are estimations.
These numbers are calculated using a statistic modeling scheme, and are, in fact, blown way out of proportion in comparison to actual recorded death tolls per year during the last couple of decades. Take a look for yourself.
You Are in Charge of Your Own Body
And of what goes into it.
If you don’t want to get the flu shot, then don’t.
Whether your aversion to the flu shot aligns with the arguments what we’ve previously mentioned, a totally valid argument we haven’t touched on, or if it stems from something as simple as a common phobia of needles, it’s your decision to make and yours alone.
You shouldn’t have to validate the reasoning behind your decision to forgo injecting yourself with foreign bodies.
(Although don’t get us started on vaccinating your children against deadly diseases – that is an entirely different story).
As next flu season rolls around, rather than rushing to the nearest pharmacy in a frenzy to get your vaccine before you fall victim to the over-exaggerated seasonal sickness, do your research. Whether you ultimately decide to go and get the flu vaccine or not, make your decision an informed one.
Happy flu season!
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