To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate? That is the Question | By Maggie Danko

Each fall, a smattering of advertisements promoting the seasonal influenza vaccine sweeps onto our radar, causing many people to consider whether they should get the “flu shot.” Since the infamous “H1N1 Swine Flu” scare, promotions for the flu vaccine have skyrocketed. This influx of propaganda telling us that we should all endure the pain of a needle to prevent us from getting sick has caused many people to question whether it actually is worthwhile to get a flu shot.

There are two types of people: Those who always get the flu shot no matter what, because they’ve always gotten it; and over at Camp B, there’s the “I’ve never gotten a flu shot, and I’ve never gotten sick, so what’s the point?” group of people.

If you belong to the “I always get my flu shot, no matter what,” category, congratulations! You are one of the enlightened people out there who actually cares about your health. Regardless of your motives, you understand that being sick sucks, and there is a simple way to avoid this inconvenience. Or you’re paranoid that H1N1 will make a comeback, and this way, you’ll be ahead of the game. Either way, you’re doing the right thing.

For those of you who never get the flu shot, shame on you! You are the reason that the flu continues to wreak havoc on our hospitals and health care systems. We are lucky enough to have a health care system where EVERY Albertan can get vaccinated for free. As The Wanderer Science Myth/Fact Column clarified, you cannot get sick from the vaccine! And on campus, vaccination clinics are set up in SUB from November 6-9, 2012. I know that it hurts a little bit, and takes a whole 15 minutes out of your very busy schedule, but if you think about it, that quick study break when you get your vaccine could give you a whole week that would otherwise be spent in bed, sick with the flu. I’m no expert at math, but I’m pretty sure that 15 minutes is a reasonable price to pay for a whole winter of health. I would also hazard a guess that many of you spend at least 15 minutes in line for Tim Horton’s on a pretty regular basis… think about that.

If you’re still waffling over whether to get your flu shot, keep reading the Wanderer Online for our Flu Frenzy week. By the time you’ve read this series, you should be running for the flu clinics! 

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  • Irate Immunologist

    Wow, this is polarizing. As the article suggests, there’s no middle ground–I obviously don’t care about my health if I don’t get the vaccine, and people like me are the reason why influenza spreads. How can anybody argue with that?

    Well, I certainly can. What this article fails to point out, either because the author forgot or doesn’t understand how influenza vaccines work, is that whatever vaccine is used in a given season does NOT protect against all influenza. The type of vaccine to be produced (for example, an H1N1-like vaccine versus an H3N2-like vaccine) is chosen based on predictions made well ahead of time about what influenza A subtype will be most prevalent in the season the vaccine will be for. Furthermore, the vaccine will only protect against the particular viral subtype it is produced for, and not other subtypes. The problem is that millions of dollars goes into producing a vaccine for a subtype that might not even be problematic when it comes time to administer it.

    I can think of some other reasons why influenza A spreads, and they don’t all have to do with peoples’ refusal to get vaccinated. People need to be conscious of ways they can reduce transmission: proper (note, proper) hand-washing, covering their mouths with their arms or a handkerchief instead of their hands when they cough or sneeze, and reducing unnecessary physical contact, particularly in high-risk setting such as medical clinics.

    I’m a huge proponent for vaccines, but this article doesn’t do much to educate the public.

  • Hey! I’m Walking Here!

    What about the people who have gotten the vaccine when they were young but now don’t and have never gotten sick? And, ha! “It’s been proven” Ya, just like the “gay” gene has been proven. It’s a lot more contentious than one would think.