img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-12432″ style=”margin: 10px;” title=”Flu Shots Here” src=”http://www.liveinthenow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/iStock_000017784325Small-400×266.jpg” alt=”Flu Shots Here” width=”320″ height=”213″ />Flu shots! Flu shots! Get your flu shots here! Lately I’ve been seeing signs all over the place encouraging me to take advantage of a free or discounted seasonal flu vaccination. Thanks, but no thanks! I’m not interested in subjecting myself to a vaccine with unknown efficacy and known potential side effects including, but not limited to, permanent neurological damage and autoimmune diseases — even if it is free.
I believe that for all but certain special populations, the documented risks of getting a seasonal flu shot far outweigh the benefits. Although my position on vaccination is becoming more and more common, I know that it’s still highly controversial, and flies in the face of what most of us have been taught from birth about vaccines.
I understand the arguments on the other side, and I think that everyone is entitled to their beliefs. But even more than that, I think that individuals (or their parents or caretakers) should be able to make informed decisions about whether or not a particular vaccine is appropriate for them. The debate surrounding the HPV vaccine has brought the issue of “informed consent” as it relates to vaccination to the forefront of recent political discussions.
The American Medical Association defines informed consent as “a process of communication between a patient and physician that results in the patient’s authorization or agreement to undergo a specific medical intervention.”The information communicated includes the risks and benefits, the alternatives, the risks and benefits of the alternatives, and the risk and benefits of forgoing the intervention altogether.
The fact is that in the case of the seasonal flu shot, as with the HPV vaccine, patients and parents are not receiving all of the information they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to receive the vaccination. And unfortunately, you can’t rely on the government to provide complete, unbiased information about vaccines, or for that matter, anything else for which the profits of big business (in this case Big Pharma) are at stake. The CDC trivializes the potential adverse reactions and overstates the benefits associated with getting a flu shot, which ensures plenty of repeat customers for the vaccine manufacturers.
So, if you’re thinking about taking your local drugstore, health department, etc. up on its offer of a free flu shot, I hope that you’ll at least spend a little time perusing the vast amount of information available for free online about the potential risks and side effects of vaccines so that YOU can make an informed decision. Here are some good resources:
Or maybe just watch this video about how flu shots are made:
Perhaps the most convincing reason of all for not getting the seasonal flu shot is that there is limited proof that it’s even effective. There are, however, plenty of things you can do now to prepare your immune system for flu season. Here is just a quick list. (Click on the links to read more.)