The Influenza Vaccine: for the Greater Good of Mankind

The influenza flu shot has become one of the most controversial subjects in the healthcare world. People seem to be lining up to take sides on the matter; while some are solidly in favor of it and deeply believe in its efficacy, others are convinced that it poses more harm than good for most. The best way to debunk these myths is to study the pros and cons of this vaccine.

Who Should Get the Flu Shot?

Only a select group of individuals are not able to get the flu vaccine. This group includes babies under the age of 6 months, those who are allergic to ingredients in the vaccine, such as eggs, or those who have had dangerous reactions to previous flu vaccines. Toddlers and very old adults, women who are pregnant and those with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, cancer or COPD, should definitely get the vaccine because they could experience terrible complications should they contract the illness.

What are the Risks and Side Effects of the Flu Shot?

Every vaccine has some risks, and the influenza vaccine is no different. While severe allergic reactions, neurological diseases, such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and death may occur, these concerns are very rare. Allergic reactions may produce the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash
  • Increased heart rate
  • Faintness

The most common reactions occur within 24 hours following the vaccine and include body aches, a low-grade fever and tenderness around the injection site. Individuals cannot get influenza from the vaccine.

What are the Benefits of the Flu Shot?

Healthcare professionals as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the benefits of the flu shot far outweigh the possible dangers. As previously stated, flu shots can prevent at least some people from getting influenza and can prevent vulnerable individuals, such as the very young and the very old, from having terrible complications that could lead to death. Flu shots can also help protect people around the individual, such as their children and friends, who may not have gotten the vaccine.

Although the efficacy of the vaccine varies from year to year, each vaccine provides at least some protection. While the merits of the influenza vaccine may forever be disputed, most people agree that the risks far outweigh the benefits. In fact, the vaccine can do much to make the home and the workplace safer and healthier places for everyone.