Swine flu: Shot or no shot?

When I taught middle school, I used to get a flu shot every year. (Ever since my doctor told me I was “working in a germ factory.”) But before that time and since then I haven’t gotten the vaccine because I am not in a high risk group. I’m in good health, and have minimal contact with small children or old folks — or large groups in general. But I find the current coverage on this story very confusing — there seems to be a theme of the moment that says:

“Be very afraid!!!  Some people are not getting the swine flu vaccine!!!!”

(And by the way, I thought it was called “H1N1”, not “swine flu”?)

Personally, I have a healthy respect and skepticism of western medicine in general. I mean, I know what it has meant to eradicate smallpox through vaccine; it transformed the world. But I also lived through “Swine Flu Debacle of the 1970’s,” and am just furious with the onslaught of ads I am subjected to every night for the myriad magic pills that will cure every ill known to man. Oh, yeah, except cancer.  I guess we can’t focus on erectile dysfunction and cancer, now can we?

So at this point, as someone who is in good health, I am not going to get a “swine flu” vaccine. Of course, I’ve just this week seen my first blue “flu mask” in public, on the commuter train. But I don’t know if he was keeping the flu in or keeping it out….

So tell me: what are you doing?



  1. I have only gotten one flu shot in my life – during the first “swine” (I prefer H1N1 currently) flu virus in 1976 I think. It made me sick.

    I have mixed feelings about getting one now, so I won’t.

  2. Why scare the population now? So they will accept mandatory vaccination later.

    When fatalities increase, and they certainly will, this disastrous turn will be blamed on those who declined the shot. Mark my words.

  3. I am one of those categorized as the last receipients the H1N1 is available to. Additionally, even though all my employees have school aged children, I have little contact with the general public. Indiana already has a large outbreak and a friend of mine with the CDC says it will get worse here. She states that vaccine or not the numbers of outbreaks and deaths will still be there due to lack of common sense concerning proper hygiene during the cold/flu season. Are they trying to scare us? Sure. I’m I getting a shot? No. I’m more afraid of a hastily generated vaccine with little testing behind it. That and if enough people do get sick what will happen to the supply chain.

  4. The 1976 shots did have an unacceptable incidence of Guillaume-Barre syndrome.
    According to specialists I have consulted about this (we have 2 high-risk people in our household -not just because of their age group but because of underlying health issues) this should NOT be the case this year.
    The recommendation I received was to get the regular shot followed but the H1N1 shot about one month later (so as to build immunity from the first and if, perchance, side effects occur from either, you know you know which one caused them).
    So, that’s what we will do.

  5. That is great that the vaccines have finally arrived. Hopefully, there will be no more deaths because of the swine flu.

  6. i sporatically get the regular flu shot, which i will do again this year, if i am somewhere where they are being offered. will forego the h1n1 shot for the time being.

  7. I’ll be writing more about this issue, as I think there are still plenty of questions about the H1N1 vaccine. The “regular” flu vaccine has seemed to be proven safe and effective, but I do have some concerns about the new vaccine.

    More to come ….

  8. hhm– I received a flu shot once in late 80’s and 2 days later got so sick I thought I was dying; couldn’t hardly even walk to the bathroom for 2 whole days ( no lie…!)
    Personally I believe the reason people are getting so sick constantly in this country is that we have become germaphobes… overtaken by the propaganda that we should take this pill or that one, wash with these chemical soaps that kill germs; and cram in as many antibiotics as possible.
    Well those 3 things alone have reduced the populations immune system to Nil. Killing off our natural defenses.
    Good general health can be obtained through exercise, good nutrition, and hygiene.
    I realize that in some parts of the country these things are unavoidable due to poverty.

    I read an article in the Dr.s office yesterday from a Scientific Allergy publication, here are a few things in a flu vaccine…
    Aluminum, Mercury, Formaldehyde, Potassium Chloride,Sodium Chloride,Calcium Chloride. The last three are mutagenic for mammilian cells, and theres Beta-propiolactone -which is a proven carcinogen by OSHA , and is toxic to the kidneys, liver, lungs and digestive system. Not to mention Chicken proien serum and some egg products that effect people with allergies to those.

    Well unfortunately I could go on, but I hope that if you are generally healthy you might think about what you could be putting into your body.
    Best of Health to All…

  9. We have become far too germophobic and that does create its own monsters…literally. I am not proud to say that I have a nail biting habit and that I often unconsciously find my hand in my mouth. It is awful for many reasons. That said – until 2007, I worked in NYC, taking public transit, riding in elevators etc and I also flew up to 100K miles a year. I hardly ever got sick. I often posit it is because I had contact with so many germs.

    I was speaking with a friend who is a school nurse. A local school declared 93 out with H1N1, but she said it was primarily done through sight and not testing diagnosis. The symptoms are the same as regular flu, you can’t really tell without the test.

    She also spoke of the issues around GB syndrome, mentioned above, as a result of the older Swine flu vaccine. As I had mentioned earlier – the one and only flu shot I have ever had.

    The nurse went on to say that there are questions about testing the H1N1 vaccine, but that a good friend of hers who is a doctor was touting it. He said that he has already seen death from this in populations that are just not the usual ones to get it.

    Some things cannot be controlled and I think that widsom has as much of a place as hygiene and medicine here.

    The best advice may be for one and all to stay home if sick. That said, I think of the hourly workers who might not be able to afford to do that.

  10. Thanks for the link, Cootamundra.

    I wish the extremists on both sides would stop screaming at each other, though, as it’s making it heard for us reasonable, compassionate people to make intelligent choices about our health.

    I am reminded of when I was a proofreader for an environmental consulting firm. The dozens of environmental impact statements that I read all included a table showing that everything has an impact at some level. My favorite was the one example of peanut butter as a carcinogen. Of course, you would need to eat 300 lbs. of peanut butter, per day, for 6 months, or something like that ….

    The science is complicated and the rhetoric is deafening ….

  11. are you suggesting that “if” we do get sick, we stay home and eat pounds of peanut butter?? will that help put me out of my misery?

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