It has been a while since I blogged about medicine. My reason for starting the blog was to combine fashion and medicine in one portal. The reasons why I haven't delved into the medical aspect has been due to my insecurities which we shall discuss at a later date when I garner some more courage. For now, I would like to talk about an issue which is dear and close to many of us living the western world.

It is flu season and most people have started seeing the adverts asking you to go to your physician or pharmacy to get the shot. During my time in the outpatient clinic, I try to get an idea of those who will agree to the vaccine and those who are strongly against. All in all, there are 5 types of patients;

* Those who ask for the vaccine before I even get the chance to offer it.
* Those who say YES to the vaccine once the option is offered
* Those who need to be convinced - and usually say yes during the visit ( I definitely do a mental applause to myself for achieving this feet)
* Those who say they will think about it just to humour me but never return  (a minority who do.)
* Those who flat out refuse and have their reasons which cannot be changed

So what are their reasons for not wanting the vaccine and how do I convince them otherwise?

My first role as a physician is to take every reason seriously and not snigger or react inappropriately. These are all valid concerns that need to be addressed in an open, respectful and constructive manner.
Whilst I can't name them all, here are the 4 most common reasons that I come across and how I address them.

" I got very sick from the flu shot in the past and do not want it again" 

This is probably the most common reason I get for not wanting the shot. Patients have varying degrees of reactions from localised swelling at the site of injection to reporting having the flu.
Yes you can get a mild reaction from the injection, usually redness, swelling and mild arm pain but this usually resolves within a day or two.
          The vaccine itself cannot give you the flu. It is an inactivated virus i.e it cannot cause an infection. Bearing in mind that this is usually given during the winter, there are many other viruses which could account for patients getting a cold (flu-like) and coincide around the time of the vaccine. Some randomised studies showed between those who got the vaccine and those who didn't, the occurrence of cold-like symptoms were not different. In addition, there are many different strains and you many have gotten a strain not covered by the vaccination.

"I have never gotten the flu so I don's see why I need it" 

This is perhaps the most common reason amongst my younger patients. These are generally healthy people who are at low risk of getting seriously ill from the flu or suffer deadly complications. They may have had the flu but have thought it was a cold. In addition, perhaps, they haven't gotten the flu because those around them got the vaccine and thus protecting them.
           Whilst you as a young adult may be healthy, think about the elderly (grandparents, parents), your children, nieces, nephews or sick family members. They do not have the immune system you do and are more likely to get complications from the flu such as pneumonia which can eventually lead to death. So yes, you could survive the flu but those around you may not. This phenomenon is called Herd Immunity.

" It does not work" 

This is the argument I have the hardest time winning because to some extent, this statement is correct. The vaccine is not produced against a known virus but against what the expected strain of virus is going to be. Sometimes, thy are 70% correct and other-times, 30-40% correct.
          So yes, the vaccine is not perfect. What I will say though is that 30-40% is better than nothing. That can prevent you from being hospitalised and having severe complications. Last flu season, 172 children died from the flu and 80% of them were not vaccinated according to the CDC.

" I do not want to poison my body" 

This is really do struggle with. I can understand a lot of the arguments but this usually makes me take a pause to compose myself.
        Vaccines undergo strict testing to ensure their safety. They are safer than the herbal teas we drink which do not undergo FDA approval. If you take any medication including paracetamol/tylenol, it isn't much different from taking a vaccine. Please do not use this as an excuse - It HURTS when I hear this.


I hope I haven given you some food for thought on why the flu vaccine is important and please please please, go get the shot if not for yourself, for your child, god-child, parent or grandparent.
Here are a few take home points:

  • The flu vaccine does not cause the flu 
  • As a young adult with a great immune system, you many not suffer dire consequences but if transmitted to the high risk population could be fatal so protect your friends and family 
  • The vaccine may not be perfect, but it prevents catastrophic consequences such as death 
  • It is very safe!! 

Hope you enjoyed this and I hope to do more medicine related posts. If you have a different point of view, please do not hesitate to comment and educate in a constructive manner.


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  5. Flu? Those days
    Only COVID on the news

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    Flu is still around


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