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Which is Worse: Getting the Flu or the Flu Shot?

Posted Sep 07 2009 10:21pm 1 Comment

Today I celebrated the American Labor Day holiday by getting myself and my family our annual flu shots. I'm so festive, I know. The kids, being able to get the nasal mist version, are totally fine - ironic considering that it is their little disease-carrying bodies that account for 90% of my illnesses - but me and my pregnant self are left with an arm that has been getting progressively more sore as the day goes on. It's the equivalent of doing Arnold presses supersetted with lateral raises for 20 minutes. Except only on one arm. My delt hates me. And yes, I'm a pain wuss.

Despite the soreness, which from experience will last a couple of days, I repeat this little tradition every year. Why? I blame my mother. Growing up with a nurse/public health educator meant two things in our household: 1) Under no circumstances would I get pregnant as a teenager (you should have seen the level of detail in the pamphlets my parents handed out over dinner!) and 2) If there was an immunization, I would get it. The Flu Shot Ritual was more indicative of the beginning of fall to me than the leaves changing colors.

Not every family was like mine, however. I have quite a few friends who look horror-stricken every time I tell them about getting me and the kiddies shot up on a regular basis. And sometimes I wonder if they're right. After all, why else did God give us an immune system if he didn't mean for us to use it? But in the end, I tend to err on the side of science and safety and so I always succumb to the needle.

This year the ante's been upped by the advent of the H1N1 virus - or Swine Flu - which is either a plague of untold proportions ready to sweep across the globe in a bloody tide or else the most egregious example of media hype since Angelina Jolie popped out twins. It all depends on who you talk to. Just 10 minutes ago I got an e-mail from a friend with information on a three-day (!!) seminar that for the low-low price of $150 will tell you "other" ways of preventing the flu. I'm assuming the swag bags will contain face masks and hand sanitizer. I haven't got the H1N1 vaccine yet as it isn't widely available for another month, but I probably will. My doctor seems very concerned that all pregnant women get it and so I'll have another sore shoulder. But if the scientists played the flu strain roulette well then at least I - and more importantly, my baby - won't get influenza!

I know this can be a loaded issue: what do you think about flu shots? Tell me what your strategy for not getting sick is in the comments and take my handy poll below:
Comments (1)
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" After all, why else did God give us an immune system if he didn't mean for us to use it?"

That's what the shots help with, though.  The shots beef up the immune system without putting us at risk of catching the illness (most of the time).

My oldest child and I can't get the flu shot b/c we have egg allergies.  I wish we could.  My youngest has asthma, and thankfully, he isn't allergic to eggs and can get the shots.  My husband gets vaccinated against the flu every year. We still get sick, sure, but it's worth it to me to at least attempt to fend it off or try to make sure the severity of it is lessened to protect our asthmatic little boy.

If my oldest and I could get it, we totally would, mostly to protect the asthmatic child in the house better than we already are.  I wish others would take it as seriously, the health of those around them, and get vaccinated.

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