I got my seasonal flu jab (as the fiance would say it) yesterday afternoon, and I do indeed feel like I got punched in the arm, even after taking the precaution of getting the shot in my right arm. (Since I'm right handed, I was hoping that would help me work out that "punched in the arm" feeling sooner.) Even if it's a little annoying, I take the pain as a point of pride. Some of it is because after years of practicing kung fu, you start seeing bruises as a badge of just how hardcore you are. But also, I see it as a badge of honor that says "Hey, I want to make the people who live in my community just a little safer."
As usual this time of year, I've heard a lot of people say that they don't want to get a flu shot, because they never get the flu anyway and the flu isn't that bad. Well, if you're a twenty-something with a suitably horse-like immune system, you could definitely argue the point. Now, first off I have to say anyone who claims the flu isn't all that bad has:
a) Never had the actual flu.
b) Never known anyone that's had the actual flu.
c) Is possibly doing psychoactive drugs.
Some sniffles and a day or two of a low fever isn't the flu. Neither is an annoying cough that takes a couple weeks to go away but leaves you otherwise feeling dandy. No, the flu is flat-on-you-back can't-move-a-muscle fever for a week straight with a severe cough and a lot of other unpleasant baggage. I've managed to never have the flu thus far, and boy do I feel lucky. My best friend, who teaches first grade, caught H1N1 from one of her little germ factories and it seems to have been one of the most miserable experiences of her life.
But getting the flu shot isn't about you to begin with. It's about your granny, your five-year-old niece, and your neighbor who is immune compromised because she's getting treated for breast cancer. It's about trying to muster up enough immunity in the "herd" surrounding these people that they won't catch the flu. If you get the flu, you get a week of misery and another week of not-quite misery where you spend a lot of time laying in bed, being bored and watching daytime television. If these vulnerable people get the flu, it's worse, it's longer, and it could very well kill them.
So I got my flu shot for my dad, who is diabetic and over fifty. I also got it for my women's studies teacher, who is pregnant. And for the grandmothers and cancer survivors and little kids that I don't know, but who also don't deserve to get sick because I was intimidated by a little poke in the arm.
Stop being selfish, stop making excuses, and just go get your darn flu shot already.
A couple of links, because as we all know the world needs more Mark Crislip:
Flu Vaccine Efficacy
More Flu Woo For You, Boo Boo
Both of the above entries have been made in to podcasts as well.
And from Joe, also at Science Based Medicine, responding to the inane "18 reasons why you should not vaccinate your children against the flu this season.": 9 Reasons to Completely Ignore Joseph Mercola