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Flu shots?

Hey guys,

I'm in a situation at work I'd like some group discussion on, if you don't mind...

In my professional life I go around to different rehab facilities, as an occupational therapist, and one of them told me recently the flu shot is 'mandatory' there. I said, 'hunh?', and it was explained that the building admistrator-- not a MD, not a LPN, not any type of medical person; this is just some dude with a business degree-- has decided everyone who works there has to get a flu shot. I thought it over a bit & said 'um, no,' b/c the hell I WILL have a random administrative dude dictate what I will or won't have injected into my body. They have no other OT there, btw, and I have plenty of work at other places, so I'm not worried about losing the facility (although sadly it IS my current favorite, except for this issue). The travelling PT that was going there, I found out later, took the same view as me/ won't go along with the 'mandate' and is happy to just work elsewhere; the full time therapy staff there DO have a problem with the policy, but went along with the coercion because it's a tiny town and employment options are limited, and they don't wanna quit and go looking for other employment.

I have never had a flu shot, and have not had the flu in 5-10 years. Here's my thinking:

1) it's not terribly effective, as a vaccine, because flu strains mutate way more quickly than a vaccine can possibly be produced and circulated. Efficacy ratings I've seen have been around 55-60%. If it's just about the same as plain old chance, even if the side effects are small/ adverse reactions rare, it isn't worth it to me (as a healthy non-immune-compromised 40-year-old who gets the flu about once per decade).

2) anything that gets shot into my body is no one's decision but mine, with possible exceptions if I'm clinically psychotic (not just anecdotally psychotic! haha), in a coma, &/or infected with a pathogen so devastating it could wipe out huge masses of people (say, ebola)... I may or may not, at some point, get a flu shot-- I'm open to discussion about it, with medical professionals, based on research and reason vs pharmarketing efforts of pfizer et al-- but in the end it's mine to decide; the end!

3) flu shots contain mercury, formaldehyde, egg proteins, gelatin, and pig-derived ingredients. Um, no thank you!! I will PASS on that, unless someone can give me a better reason than I've seen so far (ie 55-60% protection from a transitory illness that I rarely get anyway, and am not at risk of complications from).

4) I already don't go to work when I'm sick at all, because I work with a fragile population (who are all vaccinated for flu, btw) and because (being seldom ill) I'm a wussy about leaving the house (er, bed!) on those rare occasions when I do feel puny. Also, as a PRN employee, I already don't get paid for days off, so it's not costing them anything if I don't come in; a patient might get less OT that day, but more later in the week or more time in PT to balance it out... but if I get the flu I stay home and no one pays for it but me.

5) my body and I have an arrangement: I eat well, exercise, try to get enough sleep, and actively manage stress through natural means; and in trade, she works well and doesn't get sick. This is working really great; and if it ain't broke...! The flu injection just seems like an unnecessary intervention-- and I think unnecessary medical interventions should be avoided, on general principle.

SO: do you guys do the flu shot? what do you think about mandatory vaccines, for health care workers or others? Is there info I haven't thought about, that's relevant here? I'm very sure that I will NOT be getting one just because I'm told to do so (duh!); but I'm open to arguments on either side, re whether flu shots are a good idea or not... do you think I'm wrong in deciding not to get one? if so, why?

Thanks for all input!  :)

1) True, the efficacy does suck.

2) I agree in general, but in the case of vaccines, not so much

3) The formaldehyde SHOULD be gone, but there's always chance of residue (but for the same reason, there's a chance that isolated soy protein contains hexane). But yeah, totes not vegan. I figured that out when the paperwork asked if you're allergic to eggs.

4) The problem is you might be shedding the virus before you are aware of any signs, and may still be shedding it after you've recovered.

5) Well, if you're exposed you're exposed. But also, being really healthy might actually be part of the problem - you might have a really mild case, but still able to transmit it.

I didn't like the whole mandatory vaccine thing when going to college (required vaccine for meningitis). I felt like you did - it should really be my own choice what goes in my body, and it feels weird to be required to get such a thing (especially since it was the first time it was my decision, not my parents'). But I think there are two elements that would make vaccination important, even presiding over individuals wishes - public health, and the patients in a healthcare facility.

There's a minimum level of immunity needed in order to achieve herd health, on average, about 70% (but it depends on the population and disease and such). It's not really a big issue if not EVERYONE gets vaccinated, then, but generally those not-everyone people are going to be those who can't get vaccinated (already in too poor of health to get vaccinated, or pregnant and the vaccine isn't a killed virus, etc). Still, if a couple people refuse it's not a big issue. But if immunity drops below that number, there is potential for disease transmission, especially to those more vulnerable. That's what has happened with whooping cough/pertussis... people stop wanting to vaccinate their kids, and now it's back, and there have a rising number of cases of children dying of pertussis in the US in recent years. In fact, now they're recommending adults get re-vaccinated because the antibodies probably aren't present anymore.

For healthcare workers, it's even more important. We're potentially exposing the vulnerable individuals, versus someone who does not work in such a setting and may have little contact with the immunocompromised. I know a lot of hospitals require certain vaccinations these days. It might seem like a slight against personal rights (it is), but generally that's going to be better than a patient contracting a totally preventable disease and potentially dying of it. Public health takes precedence over individual preference.

That being said, my school requires flu vaccines every year (though they don't do a good job of checking. I know plenty who have never done it). It makes sense for most, because a lot of the students are working in human med, but the vet students are required to have the flu vaccine too... and it's not like we have a university hospital on campus that we're passing by or something. Hmm. On the other hand, veterinary students are required to receive the rabies vaccine, but that's purely for our own protection, and I gladly got it (RABIES IS NOT COOL).

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Rabies and meningitis= definitely good enough reasons to vaccinate! 

Interesting thoughts. I will continue to reflect. It's just that very low effectiveness, combined with the fact that ALL the at-risk people I see (by the time they get to a skilled nursing facility) are immunized for (last year's) flu already, combined with the fact that I already seem to be low-risk for flu occurence... I don't oppose *all* mandatory immunizations, if there's a good enough reason/ strong enough benefit and it's a decision based on medical research/ proven benefit vs administrative whim... I just don't think the research supports mandatory-ness for this particular vaccine, for healthy non-compromised adults in a subacute health care setting. I might be more receptive to the idea if I worked in a hospital, or even an outpatient clinic... If research supported the benefit of this policy, in my work setting, I'd be interested to see it; I don't think it exists, though, or it'd be industry standard-- not just one admin guy. In 10 years of practicing OT, this is the first time it's ever come up... I don't think it's an evidence-based policy.

But I'll keep mulling. Thanks for your thoughts!

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HCM, I can totally relate to your thoughts on the matter.  Can you claim a religious/philosophical exemption? 

This year I am seriously considering it for myself.  I do volunteer work with kids which are little germ balls by definition and I have a 1 yr old grandkid in the house with me.  It would be more to protect him, just in case, than for me. 

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Can you claim a religious/philosophical exemption? 

Good idea, but there's no need-- I can simply say 'no thanks!' and go on about my business; this is one of many work sites for me, and (although it's a good facility, and I like it otherwise) it won't affect my income or anything, if I don't include that particular facility in my work-week... my discipline is hard to staff in my area, and there's no shortage of other places for me to go.

Another thought: unlike MMR or Hep B or other common vaccinations recommended for health care providers (which I don't have real problems with, based on cost/ benefit analyses), the flu vaccine is annual-- and I'll be an OT for probably another 20-25 years. NO research exists demonstrating the safety of that vaccine every year for 20-25 years; and it's known to contain neurotoxins (ie mercury etc)... I'm not anti-vaccine; I'm not even anti-flu vaccine, depending on circumstances. But seriously... I am not *at all* sure that it's for me at present, and even less sure about the idea of requiring prolonged repeated use in health care workers, without any way to predict whether it's gonna be a problem after decades of use. :-/

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they have people come to my small office nightmare to administer flu shots... people think i'm weird for not joining the injection bandwagon... then again, they are all germaphobes and they all get sick!

my view on it is and i am the same with the pups: if it is REQUIRED BY LAW i suppose i will get it if i can't find a way out...

in your case though i don't really agree with the "LAWMAKER"

eta: can you go and complain to anybody higher up than this douche? he seems to be stepping out of line

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Amy, you're probably too young anyway and aren't in any group that needs to get the flu shot.  IMO

HCM, I dislike getting the flu shot because of the ingredients and I am against mandating what persons should inject in their body, so I 100% get what you're saying and support you 100%.

I never got the flu shot because frankly have always been in robust health and never had the flu until I got into my 40's.  I think I've had the flu only a couple of times....fever, joint aches, and then recovery after about 24 hours...never those miserable snot nosed feverish bedridden flus.   I do stay home when I get symptoms but they sneak up on me,   About five years ago I did start taking the vaccine when I began looking at it from the standpoint that I don't want to harm my patients.  I have actually gotten the flu once (mildly like previously described) since I decided to start taking the shot.  Where I work it isn't mandated but we have to sign a statement that we're aware that if we get the flu we may pass it on to patients.

I was not vegan when I made this decision.  The toxins don't bother me since it's only a tiny injection once a year, but the animal products do and it's a dilemma, so some will say I'm not a vegan.  That's cool, I'm really not a vegan.

That facility isn't the only one, plenty of places mandate, but I think enforcement is difficult and probably wouldn't stand up in court.

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I have some friends who get the flu shot religiously every year...and every year they get really sick from the shot. The only advantage I can see to it at all is that you know when you're going to have it, so I guess you can plan around it. Or something.
I won't be getting any flu shots and DH doesn't want them either. Here in Europe after the last two projected "pandemic" panics came to nothing, they've lost a lot of credibility and even healthcare workers resist the flu vaccine.
I have had two heavy bouts of flu in the last 30 years, both from contact with people who'd been travelling by air and got it on the plane and then gave it to me. But the two bouts were 10 years apart. I wash my hands a LOT (it's kind of a "thing" with me) and never have a normal cold. Sometimes I feel like I might be coming down with one but as Tweety says, after 24 hrs and some miso I'm fine again.

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I work in a healthcare clinic and I do choose to get the vaccine. We are not required at the clinic that I work in though. I hate the ingredients that are in them (I'm not strictly vegan) but I want to protect my children (they don't get the vaccine) and my patients. The flu shot should not give anyone the flu, it is a deadened virus so it's just like getting any other vaccine. However, it does really rev up your immune system and can take up to 2 weeks to be effective. So if you already were in contact with someone who had it within that time frame, you could still get it. And despite working in a health care facility, I really don't get sick very often. I rely on my body to fight off anything and also to get rid of any toxins that enter. I don't think anyone should be forced to get one though.

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My husband works for our county's health department.  He was the ONLY person in his dept to decline the vaccine (because he is vegan).  They are making him wear a surgical mask all winter.  I think it's a form of bullying because he screwed up their 100% compliance (receive the flu shot) rating and they don't get a fancy plaque from the State.

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KKM, I have no idea what's in the vaccines they use here in Spain. All I know is, I am personally friends with about a dozen people who obediently get their flu jab every fall. And every one of them gets very, very sick from the shot. With flu-like symptoms. Having watched it happen repeatedly for over 10 years, I'd say there's a correlation.

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KKM, I have no idea what's in the vaccines they use here in Spain. All I know is, I am personally friends with about a dozen people who obediently get their flu jab every fall. And every one of them gets very, very sick from the shot. With flu-like symptoms. Having watched it happen repeatedly for over 10 years, I'd say there's a correlation.

I think you're both right-- it's dead flu that you're vaccinated with, so you can't get THAT STRAIN from the shot; BUT: your immune system is going 'what the fuck?!' and working hard to deal with *those* antibodies, so I speculate that (given finite resources in there) it temporarily reduces your ability to fight off OTHER strains of cold or flu you may come in contact with... and these bugs mutate at ludicrous speed-- most germs going around 'now' aren't going to be in any vaccine, because they probably either didn't exist in that exact form or weren't common enough last year to get selected for vaccine development... That's one of the big reasons for low effectiveness of the shot, and (I think) a big reason it's not unusual for someone to get sick after getting it.

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This is exactly what happens to me.  I have gotten the flu shot maybe three or four times in my life and every single time I got sick that season, very sick.  The years I did not get a flu shot I did not get the flu at all.  Go figure.  My body is also very very sensitive to many chemicals, hormones, vitamins, and other substances so I have to be careful anyway.

I work at a medical complex but in a non patient care area. I refuse to get the flu shot now unless it is mandatory and even then I will work to find a way around it. It isnt yet but if we don't get one we have to provide a reason why.  No problem, just another chance for me to talk about veganism and help others become more aware of how we exploit animals and resources.

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KKM, I have no idea what's in the vaccines they use here in Spain. All I know is, I am personally friends with about a dozen people who obediently get their flu jab every fall. And every one of them gets very, very sick from the shot. With flu-like symptoms. Having watched it happen repeatedly for over 10 years, I'd say there's a correlation.

That's just crazy and not true in the states where 10's of millions of people take the shot and an statistically insignificant amount get any flulike symptoms, although there's the myth that "the flu shot will give you the flu" which if someone stopped to think about it would realize that's just ignorant.

We have a few serious epidemics here in the states.  Just a few years ago the flu was killing lots of people and tens of thousands of people were hospitalized around the country, and people in their prime like pregnant people and young adults died as well.  It's nothing to poo poo.  IMO.   But like the op said, we're always a year behind as the strain is brilliant at mutating.  

Perhaps it's no co-inidence that as more people are taking the flu shot that such wicked epidemics didn't occur the last couple of years?  

No apologies for being a flu shot advocate, as I am a health care advocate, for vulnerable populations, which more than likely doesn't include many VegWeb members whom are young, vibrant and healthy.  I respect anyone's right to refuse, but get the facts.

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^

If anything, I think the anecdotes of people getting sick are either coincidence (since the shots are given at the beginning of flu season anyway), placebo (since a lot of people believe they can get the flu from the shot), or as an adverse reaction to the vaccine (but not actual influenza, just symptoms that some would suspect are a cold/flu, like fatigue)

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^

If anything, I think the anecdotes of people getting sick are either coincidence (since the shots are given at the beginning of flu season anyway), placebo (since a lot of people believe they can get the flu from the shot), or as an adverse reaction to the vaccine (but not actual influenza, just symptoms that some would suspect are a cold/flu, like fatigue)

Agree.  A lot of people report feelings of malaise and ill feeling after the shot, so that's nothing to disrespect and I don't mean to do that.....but "the flu shot makes people sick with the flu" idea myth is annoying.  I think if you're in a high risk group and have no ethical objections and are afraid of getting sick because of this myth you should consider, like I said millions of people take with no ill effect other than a sore arm, and try the shot once..if you get sick don't take it again

Sort of on topic was an article today at MSNBC about children.  Flu is a deadly disease, and those of us fortunate to live in a country with good healthcare, vaccinations, etc. are lucky indded.

The research, said by its authors to be the first to calculate such deaths, estimated there were 90 million cases of influenza and 20 million cases of influenza-associated acute lower respiratory tract infection in children under age 5 in 2008, the year it used to serve as a profile.
The study, published in the British journal Lancet, drew upon data on about 8 million children around the world and highlighted the difficult of tracking influenza cases in countries where children may not have access to healthcare.
It found that anywhere between 28,000 to 111,500 children under age 5 died of lower respiratory illness such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis connected to influenza in 2008. Of those deaths, 99 percent occurred in developing countries.
The wide range in death estimates is due to such factors as difficulty with record keeping in some developing countries, children who do not have access to hospital care and distinguishing respiratory illnesses that are specifically related to influenza, the authors said.
The research team was headed by Dr. Harish Nair of the University of Edinburgh and the Public Health Foundation of India. They noted that influenza is often regarded as a significant cause of death in the elderly but that it has a severe impact upon young children as well.
The study was funded by the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The intent of the study was to provide information for formulating public health policy, strategies for distributing flu vaccine and providing methods of treating flu-related illness, the study said."
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45248447/ns/health-childrens_health/?ocid=twitter#.Tr0AGWBqNjc

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I hope I wasnt implying in my post that the flu shot itself is what caused me to have the flu.  I certainly do not think the flu shot causes the flu.  For me I think it has to do with what HCC said, that it stressed my immune system and possibly made me more susceptible to other viruses (I was also very underweight at one of those times and suffered with endometriosis during another so my body was stressed anyway), or maybe it just didnt protect against the type of flu I got that season.  Those times that I did get the flu the same season I got the flu shot were definitely not reactions to the shot.  They happened over a month later and I was very sick with 102 fever and full out flu, not just aches and sniffles. 

I am not against others getting the flu shot if they feel it is truly in their best interest.  I just do not feel I should be forced to get one.  I am not comfortable with what is in the shot for strong personal beliefs.  I am rarely around children or vulnerable adults so I don't feel that I am truly putting anyone at risk for flu by avoiding a shot that protects against one strain out of thousands.  It might be different for a healthcare worker or parent.

I also attribute less sickness and deaths from influenza in developed countries to other factors than just the flu shot.  We have access to more variety of healthy foods and sanitary conditions and healthcare choices in general. 

I wish I had more time to write but I really gotta get to work.     

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I hope I wasnt implying in my post that the flu shot itself is what caused me to have the flu.  I certainly do not think the flu shot causes the flu.  For me I think it has to do with what HCC said, that it stressed my immune system and possibly made me more susceptible to other viruses (I was also very underweight at one of those times and suffered with endometriosis during another so my body was stressed anyway), or maybe it just didnt protect against the type of flu I got that season.  Those times that I did get the flu the same season I got the flu shot were definitely not reactions to the shot.  They happened over a month later and I was very sick with 102 fever and full out flu, not just aches and sniffles. 

I am not against others getting the flu shot if they feel it is truly in their best interest.  I just do not feel I should be forced to get one.  I am not comfortable with what is in the shot for strong personal beliefs.  I am rarely around children or vulnerable adults so I don't feel that I am truly putting anyone at risk for flu by avoiding a shot that protects against one strain out of thousands.  It might be different for a healthcare worker or parent.

I also attribute less sickness and deaths from influenza in developed countries to other factors than just the flu shot.  We have access to more variety of healthy foods and sanitary conditions and healthcare choices in general. 

I wish I had more time to write but I really gotta get to work.     

No I understood what you were saying.  If it doesn't work for you physically or ethically, I 100% support that.  I also agree that it should never be mandatory.  I think that vulnerable popuatlions and people that work with those populations should have the facts.

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Actually, the flu shot is not a completely dead strain of whatever flu they decided to create a vaccine for that particular year.  It is "mostly" dead, but not completely.  The entire purpose of the flu-shot is to inject you with the that virus that is only slightly active so that your body's immune processes will develop anitbodies to fight off that particular virus.  It did not work with dead viruses.  This is likely the reason that some people feel sick after receiving the flu shot. 

In the 9 years I have worked in ER's, I have gotten the flu-shot twice.  Both times I become horribly ill and missed more than 1 week of work.  I will never take it again.  Fortunately, they have not started requiring it at my hospital.  I just have to sign a paper stating that it was offered and I refused. 

Most of my co-workers do get it every year, and every year they all have get sick.  Not the crippling sick I became, but they have all developed this lingering cough, congestion, and general malaise-type symptoms.  Coincidence? 

Injecting anything into one's body should be a personal decision and not mandated by anyone, especially with the threat of losing your job. Lost productivity is a BS argument, in my opinion, because employers pay out your accrued sick time.  That is time earned by hours already worked.  To say that I am costing them money by getting ill because now they have to pay me time they are contractually obligated to give me is crap.   

People who suffer serious consequences from your average flu, such as the children mentioned in an earlier post, are already malnourished.  The flu didn't kill them, a lifetime of starvation and living in a disease-infested environment is what killed them.  The flu just pushed them over the edge.  And immuno-compromised patients can be protected by diligently maintaining set protocols (hand-washing, masks, respiratory isolation, etc.).  Viral mutations and antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a far greater threat to well-being of patients and the general public, in my opinion.

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http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X01004716

both the modified live & inactivated seem to be just as effective and have the same risk of adverse events. but, isn't it the inactivated that's typically given? i didn't think modified live was as common, risk of reversion and all.

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I am a health care professional and no way would I ever have a flu vaccination, I had swine flu 6 months ago and got through that ok, thanks to my healthy immune system which is thanks to my lifestyle choices, hell I was sick but not as sick as my flesh eating counterparts and I have smoked for 41 years and smoked through the flu as well haha. Flu jabs left my mum with bronchial asthma  :-\

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