Quit whining and go get your flu shot


I swear, if I hear one more person say that they don’t get a flu shot because they got the flu from a flu shot, I will smite myself.

For the last time, people, you cannot get the flu from getting a flu shot. You really can’t. It simply is not possible because, as I told a colleague just yesterday, flu vaccines are made from dead flu viruses. Dead, deceased, pushing up the daisies. Ex-viruses. Viruses that are no more!

I should like to register a complaint: this virus is dead.


My friend the Elf, who really knows about these things, could probably tell you the exact process and all the bits and pieces about antibodies and antigens and so forth. (And if I hear much more about people “getting the flu from a flu shot,” I’ll have her come up here and set them straight, I really will, so help me.)

But in layman’s terms, what a vaccine actually does is teach your immune system how to recognize a “mockup” of the virus, or a dead specimen, so that it can build itself up to resist the real thing if it should happen to come along – sort of the same way that you teach small children not to go near an angry dog by showing them a picture of an angry dog, rather than chucking them in front of a rabid Doberman and letting nature take its course.

Hey kids, stay away!


However, there is simply no convincing the conspiracy theorists. They’ll sit and listen to the above explanation, and then say “Oh well, the flu isn’t really that serious.”

Actually yes, it is. It’s not just a “touch of tummy trouble” or the sniffles. Rather, influenza lays you flat out for a week, sometimes two, during which you may sweat and shake with fever, or evacuate bodily fluids from all possible exits, or wheeze and gasp for breath as your lungs fill with goo, or a horrible combination of any or all of the above.

The unlucky – especially the elderly, small children, or people who already have things like asthma or dodgy immune systems – eventually die, horribly. Heard of the flu pandemic of 1918?  That wiped out 50 million people, or about one and a half times the population of Canada. Some “tummy trouble,” huh?

But even this isn’t convincing enough, apparently. Last week, I sat open-mouthed with astonishment listening to two otherwise well-educated colleagues earnestly asserting that vaccines “make your immune system lazy.”

Vaccines make your immune system lazy! And bubble gum is made from spider eggs!


According to them, it’s simply much more reasonable to just take your chances and get the flu, in order to let your immune system “develop its own antibodies.” Never mind that the flu virus changes slightly each year (which is why we need an updated flu vaccine each year), and never mind that, as I said, the flu can actually kill you. Which I suppose would prevent you from getting the flu ever again, if it came to that.

With few fringe-y exceptions, people wouldn’t dream of not getting themselves and their kids vaccinated against polio, tetanus, or whooping cough – or exposing little MacKenzie and Ocean to diphtheria so that their little wee immune systems wouldn’t get “lazy”! (And don’t get me started on the discredited idiot Dr Andrew Wakefield, who falsely linked vaccines to autism and thus gave the “no vaccine” wing-nuts even more ammunition.…)

But for some reason, the flu shot just sets the conspiracy theorists to foaming at the mouth. Better a $7000 hospital visit or an appointment with the undertaker than that nasty old flu vaccine!

And this leaves me to conclude just one thing: that all these big talkers are simply afraid of a needle.

Bwok bwok bwokkkk. (Go get your shot.)

So stoppit with the excuses, people. The shots are free (in Canada, anyway). It stings for a second, and you might feel like you got a “punch-buggy” for the rest of the day. Whatever. You probably feel worse after lifting weights at the gym or shoveling your driveway.

So just go do it and stop being such a bunch of babies.

Besides, you get a lollipop afterwards. And what could be better than that?

— Smiter out

Related link: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, FAQs about flu vaccine safety



  1. HausElf

    I love it! Especially the doberman example…I may just have to use that in class. 🙂

  2. D. Madsen

    I am not the slightest bit afraid of the needle, but I am really not convinced that taking the easy solution and getting a shot is the best solution in the long run. This is a bit funny that I write this sitting here with a slightly sore arm since I just had my shot. Yes, this year I choose the easy way out and got my shot, being sick is really no fun, but I am afraid it may have been a bad decision in the long run.

    In general, anything in your body that you don’t use gets weak. Sure you may get hurt from doing sports, but I never saw a recommendation that x number of people get hospitalized a year due to sports injuries so stay on the couch. Everybody accepts that the risk of injuries is much smaller a problem than not exercising at all. Likewise your brain needs stimulation to stay at its maximum.
    I have not seen any research on the topic (and I am VERY interested in any references you have), but it seems like a reasonable hypothesis that an immune system that always gets presented with weak viruses will become lazy and weak. Not so great when a new virus that we have no vaccine for shows up.

    Getting vaccinated for really serious diseases seems perfectly sane, but the flu? Sure it is uncomfortable, but I refuse to call it serious. I DID see a study that showed that the flu vaccine actually doesn’t save any lives, the people that die from the flu are weak and will typically die from something else the same year instead if they do not get the vaccine. I wish I had the reference to the article.

    I hope you can get back to me with studies that show that the immune system does not get weakened by not getting challenged, it would make me feel a lot better about being a baby and getting the yearly shot 😉

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