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Scary Shot

Probably not, according to the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

(They still say get the flu shot, since it’s better than nothing).

The flu shot could stand some improvement, according to CIDRAP’s research, which looked at past studies, flu shot efficacy, etc. But one of the biggest hurdles is that everyone accepts the current flu shot standard as good enough, and with successful marketing & doctor recommendations that have most people running to get it, I’m sure the manufacturers agree!

One of CIDRAP’s findings was that the recommendation to get the flu shot is based on “professional opinion” rather than studies on the flu vaccine or its effectiveness, which is much lower than other common vaccines (the flu shot is only mildly effective for individuals who are already healthy).

Most concerning is that the effectiveness of the flu shot falls especially short for those who matter most: people at risk of severe complications from the flu, including small children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Past studies have found a higher incidence for flu shot side effects in these populations as well, which especially raises questions about whether the flu shot should be recommended!

What are flu shot symptoms? The most common ones occur at the injection site: pain, redness, and swelling. Of course, you might also get mild flu symptoms, including fever (common to many vaccines), aches, and fatigue.

CIDRAP would like to see a push for a better flu vaccine—one that didn’t just target the part of the virus that mutates frequently. It could better prepare the immune system, last longer, and would potentially be much more effective.

This year’s vaccine, although prepared on a much shorter time table than usual (a fact which raises its own issues) will only be mildly effective against the many flu mutations that occurred this summer. Although most of the mutations rarely affect most people, they are more likely to cause severe side-effects, and the reason (fear) many people elect to get a flu shot.

Will you get/Have you gotten your flu shot this year? Why or why not?

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