Pros and Cons of Flu Shots
If you’ve had it, then there’s no mistaking it. The flu will knock you into bed, and you won’t want to go anywhere else for another two or three weeks. Your body will ache, your head will explode with pain and despair, your nose will run like a waterfall, you won’t want to eat, and your bedsheets will be drenched in a deluge of sweat. It’s not fun. There are people who swear by the effectiveness of the flu shot, while there are others who are completely convinced the shot gave them the influenza infection in the first place (hint: they’re wrong). Here are the pros and cons of getting your annual flu shot.
Although it’s often called the flu vaccine, there’s technically no such thing: yet. The flu shot is designed to increase antibodies for the expected flu strain each year. Because the shot represents only the “best guess” of the medical community for each year, it’s not always effective at preventing the spread of flu or reducing the chances that you’ll come down with it.
A lot of people believe that the shot caused their current bout of flu, but it’s not true. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies delivered by the shot to develop in your body and help your immune system protect itself against a strain of the flu, so if you come down with the infection before that time period has elapsed, then the shot just didn’t have time to function properly. That said, even a influenza vaccine of limited effectiveness can help prevent a great number of people from coming down with the infection if enough people opt to get it administered at the onset of the flu season. One immunization won’t stop its spread, but a bigger communal pool of immunizations will work wonders to prevent transmission to a greater number of people, and doing your part is one of the biggest pros to getting your yearly flu shot.
The flu vaccine can help protect newborns from the flu if the mother receives it before giving birth. Because flu can wreak havoc on the body, getting vaccinated can also reduce the instance of related health problems such as cardiac events. Not only that, but getting the annual flu shot is actually one of the biggest variables to increasing overall life expectancy.
The cons of getting the flu shot aren’t so bad. For most people, the biggest con is that they don’t always work. If you have to pay for the shot yourself, then you’re a lot less likely to bother (luckily there are a lot of potential avenues to procure a free shot).
Another unfortunate side effect of the vaccine is that you might feel sick after you get it. The shot contains a dead strain of the flu virus, which your body will still attack while it creates antibodies. Although you won’t actually have an infection wearing you down, your body’s immune reaction can still make things rather unpleasant. For example, you don’t get feverish because of an infection. Instead, your temperature goes up because your body knows that infections hate high temperatures.
Overall, the pros definitely outweigh the cons when you consider the outlook for society as a whole!