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PTA Blog Talk

Flu Vaccine

Published October 27, 2010 9:04 PM by Jason Marketti

I am in the process of reading a book about the flu pandemic of 1918. The author, Gina Kolata, describes the processes scientists have for locating the flu virus, and testing procedures to isolate that particular strain of flu. Kind of boring? No!!! With the various strains of flu and the ability of flu viruses to jump species, it is scary. Fascinatingly scary.

But do you think I will get a flu shot this year? No!!! I often read about why health workers do not get flu shots and it varies from person to person. I used to get them regularly when I worked in acute care, but now after some investigating on whether I will benefit from it, I have decided against it. But I do advocate them, especially for the elderly and others who are at high risk of complications from the flu.

I get the flu at least once a year, sometimes twice, and during those three days my wife takes care of me while I either sweat or freeze on our couch watching old spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood as the star. I stay in fair shape, take a vitamin and eat well. Since I do not fit into a high-risk group of complications from the flu, I will sacrifice my shot and allow a high-risk person to take it.

Often my symptoms are very similar to those who do get the flu shot and putting an injection into someone is permanent; there is no taking back what was injected. When I have asked nurses what is in the flu shot, most answers were vague. Some did not even know. Those who did know what they were giving to people were surprised by my questions because few people had asked them. So, will you get the flu shot this year?


I agree that we don't know if the flu shot is good or bad, but living in Wi., with everybody sneezing and coughing, I will take my chance with the shot. I am a 61 year old woman, and after my last bout with the flu a few years ago-give me a shot. Although I wonder like everybody else does, are these shots good for us?  Why all of a sudden do we need shots for the flu, when we all lived through, and survided, colds, flu and sore throats. It's weird but I will get the flu shot every year. Karen and Jason, I love you, and I'll see your Mom and Dad in a few days.

Terry Tesch November 6, 2010 1:59 AM

Dean brings up a good point that honestly hadn't crossed my mind.  I've heard of carriers for Typhoid, TB, and even Strep Throat.  I hadn't considered it for the flu.  As many people as get it, it never occurred to me that there may be some who have it who never turn symptomatic.  

I do know that people with the stomach flu are contagious before they are symptomatic, which is why I'm a huge proponent of keeping all family members home until the household has safely passed the incubation period with everyone healthy.  Again, it hadn't occurred to me that this would be the same for other types of flu.  But it makes sense that this may be why Aubrey's PRN facility requires masks.

I had an email in my box today that had an interesting article with some science in it that some may like to take a look at. As always, a dose of healthy skeptism is wise when looking at most any media information.  Here is the link:


Janey Goude November 2, 2010 12:33 AM

When I worked in New York, nearly everyone got a flu shot. Here in the UK, they celebrated an 18% adherence last year! There is a lot of stories (I can't substantiate them nor can the people who tell them) of rampant Guillian Barre here when the first swine flu epidemic hit in the 70's. I could find documentation that showed a significant increase in the US in the 70's though!

As I've learned from this semester's epidemiology class, not everyone needs to get the shot. Herd immunity is dependent upon lowering the amount of people who can get the flu therefore your less likely to come into contact with someone who can give it to you.

That being said, I am surprised that of the 5 responses, nobody mentioned the danger of being a carrier. It is possible to carry the flu virus and infect others without having any symptoms yourself. If one works with the frail elderly or very young, you may want to consider the shot. You don't want to be the "Typhoid Mary" of your unit.

Me? I get it every year. It is inactive virus of the 3 most likely variations to prosper in that year. It has never caused me to feel ill. I also work with the very frail elderly and I couldn't live with myself if I infected someone who wound up hospitalized or worse.

And Jon is right about that author, Gina Kolata, she doesn't bother much with facts. Read the article she wrote about PT witchcraft. It created quite a stir right here on this blogging board.

Cheers, Dean

Dean Metz October 31, 2010 5:57 PM

A hospital I PRN at requires us to get them, or wear a mask with ALL patient interaction for approximately 6 months. Since I think it is important for patients to see my face I relent and get the shot. My kids and husband however do not get it. Sometimes I feel guilty that I am "protected" and they aren't...but I would prefer that they build up "natural" immunities...

Aubrey Bailey October 29, 2010 7:45 AM

I did get a flu shot this year (at public health was only $15).   I did not feel well for a couple of weeks but am great now.  I have not had the flu in years.

It's still a toss up, but this year in PTA school with all the practice we do on each other and tight quarters, the germs are going around.

Kim , PTA - student October 28, 2010 1:20 PM
Sacramento CA

An interesting side-note to this story is that the author of the book you're reading is the same Gina Kolata that created a flurry of conversation and controversy in the PT world earlier this year (as well as many letters to the editor at ADVANCE) after writing a New York Times piece that questioned the evidence and cost-effectiveness behind many established "voodoo" treatments employed by physical therapists.


Jon Bassett October 28, 2010 11:24 AM

Absolutely not.  You're right- the injection, and the mercury contained in it, are permanent.  My partner's coworker just had a very serious anaphylactic reaction to his shot.  I just won't risk it; I'll risk getting the flu instead.  I don't believe that the benefit of the "best guess" outweighs the risks.  We can all take common sense, diligent precautions to minimize our exposure.  

Debra Foster October 28, 2010 10:29 AM
Hudson NH

PingBack from http://topsy.com/community.advanceweb.com/blogs/pt_5/archive/2010/10/27/flu-vaccine.aspx?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2

October 28, 2010 9:44 AM

No.  From what I understand, the flu shot is a "best guess".  It contains vaccines for the three strains of flu most likely to hit my area this year.  Last year we had a flu fiasco in this region.  Why?  Because "they" guessed wrong.  None of the flus that were in the vaccine hit this area.  The ones that did hit this area, noone was vaccinated against.

For those in high risk categories, it may be worth taking the chance the scientists got it right this year.  For me and my low-risk family of six, we'll take our chances.  We'll save the $150 in co-pays the shots would cost us.  Even if we get the flu, chances are we won't spend $150 in medicine treating it.  Plus, our bodies will produce natural antibodies to any flu we acquire, which will protect us in future years.

Janey Goude October 27, 2010 9:25 PM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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