An Opinion Post
Edit: September 2020. I believe the flu shot is even more important in the era of COVID. This is an illness which typically spreads in autumn and winter. A major flu outbreak would not only overwhelm hospitals in the coming months (the so called “twindemic”) but also likely overwhelm a person who might contract both at once.
Edit: October 2021. Ditto.
Another year, another flu shot. Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve had one each year. To me it’s really important protection even though I know it’s not 100% effective, it’s better than nothing. As someone who lives with metastatic and incurable Neuroendocrine Cancer, I know that my immune system may be compromised and having got this far beyond diagnosis, with an outlook to keep going further, I don’t want to let my guard down. So an annual flu shot is personally MANDATORY. As I’ve said to my doctors a few times, I don’t believe the cancer will get me, it will be something like a pneumonia, a bad flu or a chest infection.
There’s a lot of ‘fake news’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’ whispers going around about the dangers of the flu shot and like many other anti-vaccination movements (anti vaxxers), the flu gets dragged into the mire. Social media is very powerful, but it can also be used for spreading these myths and untruths. It’s not just social media dangers, but also social conversations at the school gates which (as an example) is sowing doubt among parents of young children who need the vaccinations that have kept generations free of diseases that were once epidemics and killed millions. For example, each day you can read issues about increases in measles cases and that is directly tied into this issue. Children are being put at risk and the incidence of measles is on the rise. Read what the world-renowned UK National Health Service says about vaccines – click here. Vaccinations are only one issue used by the fake news brigade – there are many other examples – read more here.
Now the northern winter is almost here, the flu season has begun, and the anti-flu shot brigade are already out in force. I urge you to ignore their messages and if you are at risk of flu, please get a flu shot. Seek advice from your doctor and check national healthcare agencies to see if you are eligible or not.
The best piece of advice I’ve read is from a Nurse who posted the message below on her social media account. She became an overnight sensation – over 50,000 likes and 80,000 shares but unfortunately the trolls now on her post are plentiful too. Reading it gave me a new perspective on the flu shot. It’s not just about me being safe, it’s also about others being safe from me.
“Last night I shared a post on Facebook that said ‘Hey A**hole, the flu shot isn’t about you.” Sitting here soaking up every ounce of caffeine before night shift, I figured I should elaborate.
The flu shot is for Influenza, a severe respiratory illness that can lead to death. Have you ever had it? I have, and it’s awful. You spike fevers, every bone and muscle in your body aches, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to catch your breath.
You get the flu shot not always for you, but for those around you.
For the grandparents, whose bodies are not what they used to be, and they just can’t kick an illness in the butt like when they were young.
For the 30 year old, with HIV or AIDS, who has a weakened immune system.
For the 25 year old mother of 3 who has cancer. She has absolutely zero immune system because of chemotherapy.
For the newborn baby who was just welcomed into the world, and isn’t quite strong enough to fight off infections on his own.
For the nurses and doctors that take care of you. If they get sick, they can’t go to work and take care of the countless patients that need them.
For the 50 year old husband who needs a medication for his chronic illness, and that medication also weakens his immune system.
For the pregnant mom that has been trying to get pregnant for years, and now she’s trying to stay healthy for her unborn baby.
For the single dad who can’t take any more sick days and needs to provide for his kids.
For the 7 year old boy that just wants to play with his friends. But he has a disease that puts him at a higher risk for infection, so he has to stay inside.
The flu shot is NOT always about you. It’s about protecting those around you, who cannot always protect themselves.
I have been in the room as a patient has passed away, because of influenza. I have watched patients struggle to breathe, because of influenza. I have busted my butt to provide tylenol, warm blankets, nebulizers, etc. to keep that patient comfortable and fighting a terrible respiratory infection.
Herd immunity is a thing. Influenza killing people is a thing. You getting the flu shot, should be a thing.
Note: the views stated are a personal statement and do not reflect the views of my employer”.
Please also note that any mention of a clinical service, clinical trial or therapy does not constitute an endorsement of that service, trial/study or product by Ronny Allan, the information is provided for education and awareness purposes and/or related to Ronny Allan’s own patient experience.
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