Friday, October 19, 2007

Flu shot - yes or no?

K-P offers a "free" flu shot. The flu vaccine is based on horse chicken egg serum. Horse Chicken egg serum often causes allergic reactions in people who have overhyped immune systems, such as yours truly. I am not yet 50 years old (the age at which the flu vaccine moves from being "a good thing" to "absolutely recommended"). So I suppose the question is:

Should I get the flu shot now to avoid becoming ill for a couple of weeks with the flu this year, but risk not being able to take it in the future if I become sensitized (develop an allergy) to the horse serum, or should I wait until I'm 50 years old?

My doctor is absolutely useless here. He hems and haws and basically throws the fuzzy dice. He doesn't know and really doesn't have time to look it up, since he is a K-P doctor and thus worked like a mule. Anybody else know?

-- Badtux the Allergic Penguin


  1. dear badtux,

    i cannot give you an answer, but a recommendation: do not get the flu shot. instead, use what millions in france (and myself) use: Oscillococcinum. you can find it at any health food store in the homeopathic medicine department. take one vial a week from now until march. it's more expensive than a flu shot, yes. it has none of the harmful side effects. little to no possibility of allergic reaction. that is my recommendation.

  2. I think it depends on the state of your health over the last several years. If you've been reasonably to very healthy, you probably don't need it. I haven't had a flu shot since the 80s, and when I do get sick during flu season, it's usually the 24-hour variety. I still have a good immune system, and that helps.

    Age matters, but you don't automatically need a flu shot the instant your tens digit goes from a 4 to a 5.

    As for homeopathy, I don't know enough about it to comment one way or the other...

  3. Burnt, you are correct, it has none of the possible harmful side effects, since it is, basically, distilled water. I investigated "homeopathic" remedies and discovered that they might as well be called "placebo" remedies, since chemically speaking they are indistinguishable from water. If I wanted faith-based medicine, I'd join the Christian Scientists.

    One of the things I *am* investigating is nutritional supplements such as vitamin C. There has been some evidence that this may reduce the severity of colds and flu. But it won't prevent it altogether from what I've read.

  4. it's a risk assesment thing tux. if you work in a fairly benign environment, not constantly dealing with hordes of folks from the public, have decent handwashing habits, you should be able to get through just fine. i'm not allergic so there's no chance of a reaction, and because i also carry malaria, i go ahead and get the shot. but, frequent handwashing (and antibacterial soap is bullshit, it's the surfactant action and the running water that do the job, most germs can fucking live on soap)

    as for homeopathic

    woo woo!

  5. I get a flu shot most years. (Speaking of which, I need to remember to do that Real Soon Now.) The exceptions have been years in which the vaccine was in short supply; I thought old folks deserved first shot at it. (I am 59 this year.) I've not had the honest-to-goodness flu in over a decade. YMMV.

  6. As someone who is also allergic and under 50, I don't get a flu shot. Maybe when I'm older.

  7. The last time I got a flu shot, I felt like I had the flu. So, if I want to feel like I've got the flu, I'll skip the shot and get the real thing.



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