Friday, October 23, 2015

The Flu Shot: Deciding to Cut Off the Last String From the Anti-VaxxerCrowd

Let me set this straight. I'm not or never have been considered an anti-vaxxer. We've done all the suggested vaccinations except for the flu shot. When my daughter was born, she received her Heb B shot. Two months later, she received four more vaccinations. And two months after that, four more. She continued receiving her suggested vaccinations at her six month visit as well. It wasn't until I started paying attention to my fellow "crunchy" moms that I had even thought twice about vaccinating.

It was getting to that time where Mira needed her chicken pox vax (Varicella) and all the research I had been doing and all the people I had been listening to said "don't get it!" Everything seemed to be pointing to abstaining from this vax. What's the big deal? Our generation and the generations before us had received the wild virus and done just fine? We held off on it when the ped asked at her 12 month well visit. Our ped didn't like that. She made me feel like an idiot. "Um, okay? Why?" I thought I was doing Mira a service.

Fifteen month visit came, and I just said "whatever" and gave Mira the vax. While I had been doing the research for Varicella, I had also been doing research on the flu shot, which had been offered by our ped at the time as well. I declined the flu shot and I can say it 100% came from a point of arrogance. We're too healthy to get the flu. We don't hang around with school aged kids. We sanitize things when we go in public. We haven't had the flu since we were in grade school. I was still nursing Mira, so she, of course, was the healthiest 15 month old in town. Then there was the fear mongering. It felt safer to just abstain from the shot all together.

But just like with the refugee crisis; people don't react when they hear 3,000 deaths the way the react when they see a photo show up of one dead toddler on the beach. There are 20,000 hospitalizations and 140 flu related deaths in children alone last year. The anti-vax crowd scoffs at that. They find it laughable that there's a vaccine for something that only kills 100 kids a year. But the fact of the matter is, until we directly see the image or hear the personal story, it's just a number. That's how we work as humans, we relate to stories, not numbers.

I realized this whole time I was against the flu shot, I looked at that small number deaths and just decided it was too small to be worrisome. It wasn't until I started reading about mothers' personal stories about their 6 month old, 18 month old, 2 year olds dying of complications from the flu that I decided I wasn't too good for the shot. Healthy kids were getting the flu and dying from it. And suddenly my arrogance and my fears became obsolete. The amount of chemicals in the doses are no where near a toxic level. And the myth that the flu shot causes the flu has been busted so many times. It is not a live injection, it is attenuated. This was one thing I had been skeptical about because there seemed to be such a huge causation. But the people claiming they got sick after the shot received a different virus than their vaccination was for. There is no way that the attenuated version of one virus caused a person to actively get another virus.

I'm not here to sway anti-vaxxers to "come to the other side". I'm not pro-vax enough and certainly not educated enough in immunology to be in the place to do so. I just wanted to share my thoughts and reveal that I, too was fearful. And quite honestly, I still am not confident, because as we all should be aware, no drug is 100% safe. I don't take an anti-vax or pro-vax stance, I just keep an open mind and open ears to new information. 


  1. I totally understand! I feel similarly to you. Also I don't have kids so I only have to decide for me, so that makes it easier.

  2. I'm pro-choice in regards to vaccines, but have vaccinated all five of my children. I never thought twice about the chicken pox vaccine, because my brother almost died from chicken pox as a child when a pox grew inward. Now, though, my older three are in their 20's and not getting their boosters (they think I'm too paranoid), so I'm kind of regretting getting the vaccines. I'd rather they had got chicken pox normally as a child then get it as a adult. This is why I'm pro-choice. Contrary to what people on both sides of the argument would have, there is not a straight forward 100% correct right way to address vaccination. Kids can die from vaccines and kids can die from not being vaccinated. As long as that is the way things are, how can we ever feel 100% good about our choices and not just lucky? No matter what the stats say, if your child dies or is injured because of your vaccine choice, you're never going to be able to forgive yourself. That's a pretty big burden to carry.


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