Go get a flu shot. Also, make sure you’re children get flu shots. It’s a plain and simple set of instructions, but following them could save a life. Please, go do it.
Thanks to my mom, I’ve been getting flu shots every year since childhood. Well, every year except for one, that is. And it turned out to be a very regrettable year.
As a child, I didn’t think much about my annual vaccination. Mom told my siblings and me that it was time, took us to our appointments and that was it. I had no idea about the potential suffering and discomfort I was being sheltered from. I do now, though.
A few years ago, in 2007, I did not get a flu shot for the first time in about two decades. It was the year my husband and I got married, bought a new house, adopted our dog, and I started a new job. It was an incredibly busy time, and getting flu shots wasn’t high on our list of priorities.
I came down with the flu that winter for the first time in my life, and oh my goodness, was it ever miserable. Unfortunately, I likely caught it from my husband, who started showing symptoms about four days before I did. We’re not sure where he picked it up, but I wish he would have left it there.
The only other time in my adult life I can remember feeling so awful was when I got salmonella from eating tainted peanut butter in 2006. But I digress.
As busy professionals, neither my husband nor I took much time off from work to recuperate properly. We each missed a day, as I recall, and that was our second mistake. Not getting flu shots was our first misstep.
After pushing our sick bodies too hard and denying ourselves needed rest, my husband’s flu morphed into persistent bronchitis, for which he was prescribed a powerful cough suppressant. He actually was lucky compared to what I dealt with.
My flu case did lead to bronchitis. Stupidly, though, I continued to ignore my symptoms, which escalated gradually. When my chest pain worsened to the point it hurt to inhale and strange rattling sounds accompanied my breathing, I sought medical care and learned I’d developed pneumonia. I was given an arsenal of medication, including Amoxicillin, cough syrup and an inhaler.
After about two weeks, I began to feel like myself again. That’s on top of a week of the flu and a week of bronchitis. All in all, I suffered through a solid month of illness, paid for quite a few prescriptions and doctor’s visits, and missed several days of work. It was all unnecessary.
I could have avoided the entire ordeal if only I had gotten a flu shot that year. My husband and I learned our lessons, and have received flu shots every year since then. And our daughter, who is 2, has been given a flu shot every year since she was old enough.
The flu actually can be fatal in infants, toddlers and young children. Why take that risk? Flu shots save lives.
I get worked up when I come across occasional social-media posts or blogs by uneducated individuals who are making ludicrous claims and trying to convince others that flu shots themselves commonly kill recipients or that doctors only urge patients to get them because they get kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for doing so. By far, though, the lie I find most aggravating is that getting a flu shot actually will cause a full-blown case of the flu. It’s impossible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s website, the flu shot can cause mild side effects that are sometimes mistaken for flu. If experienced at all, though, these effects usually last a day or two after vaccination and are much less severe than the actual flu. In addition, the flu vaccine does take two weeks to reach its full effectiveness. So, if a shot recipient comes into contact with the flu virus during that time period, he or she could still get the flu. But the shot did not cause it.
Bottom line: Save yourself and your children a lot of discomfort, money and time by getting flu shots. Who wants to contend with an illness that easily can be avoided? Definitely not me. Not again, anyway.