Why I don’t do Flu Shots

I know, you’re reading this title, and probably thinking, “HOLD ON! Is Mandy some kind of weird anti-vaccination lobbyist?” No, I’m not. What I’m actually going to discuss with you here is further from the truth. I am actually very pro-vaccine. Children should get vaccinated to avoid catching some of the nasty illnesses that, thanks to vaccines, are no longer a threat.
I wish the chicken pox vaccine was around when I was young, as I would have liked to avoid that week of torture. shot

However, there is one annual vaccination that is pretty debilitating for me. and this is something of some controversy. The Flu Shot.

As I mentioned in my earlier blogs,  I have Fibromyalgia, an illness that I’ve lived with since I was in the US Army.  For those of you unfamiliar with Fibromyalgia, it is a nasty thing to live with. Muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritable bowel syndrome, brain fog… the list of symptoms goes on.

Symptoms_of_fibromyalgia

And that is by no means complete. Life for me is a roll of the die. Each morning I wake up not knowing until I make the move to get out of bed if I’m going to have a flare, or how bad that flare is going to be. Joint pain for me is not just “morning stiffness,” it is “my whole body is stiff all day.” I don’t sleep well, my mind is always active, I wake up if the wind blows. I have times where my brain fogs, and I’ll forget what I’m saying mid sentence. (My Husband calls it “Shatnering”).

Here’s a lovely image of the Fibrobrain (not mine):

The Fibro Brain. Note: clicking on this image will send you to the original source of the image. I don't necessarily agree with the image's original site on all things.

The Fibro Brain. Note: clicking on this image will send you to the original source of the image. I don’t necessarily agree with the image’s original site on all things.

Now let’s look at the flu and it’s symptoms. Here is the flu:

Flu

Cute little booger, isn’t he?

Well, he might be cute, but the Flu is actually quite an awful illness. Let’s look at the symptoms:
512px-Symptoms_of_influenza.svg

Joint pain. Fatigue. Headache. Vomiting. Enough to put a normally healthy person in bed for several days.
Now, if you add the two together, Fibromyalgia+Flu, you get a nasty combination of a flare-up along with the added joys of coughing, vomiting, runny nose, and sore throat.

So you would think the Flu shot would be a wonderful boon to me, something to give me the chance to avoid getting a sickness that will flare up my illness.

Wrong.

Other than my Fibromyalgia and my anxiety, I am generally a healthy person. I might catch a cold once a year, and generally, I’m better within a day or two. Every so often, when I work myself too hard, I will get a fever. I don’t get “Sick,” I am ill, but rarely sick.

For my purposes, “sick” means “contagious.”

I have had the Flu shot before. The U.S, Army required I get them annually during my time in the service, and the Veteran’s Administration consistently tries to get me to update that shot every year. It is one of the worst things I’ve ever done.

Let me give you a quote from WebMD, in answer to the question “Can the Flu Vaccine give you the Flu?”

Despite the scientific impossibility of getting the flu from the flu vaccines, this widespread flu myth won’t die. Experts suspect two reasons for its persistence.  One, people mistake the side effects of the vaccine for flu. While side effects to the vaccine these days tend to be a sore arm, in the past, side effects often felt like mild symptoms of the flu. Two, flu season coincides with a time of year when bugs causing colds and other respiratory illnesses are in the air.  Many people get the vaccine and then, within a few days, get sick with an unrelated cold virus. However, they blame the innocent flu vaccine, rather than their co-worker with a runny nose and cough.

Okay, so WebMD says that people confuse the side effects that one gets from the virus with the actual flu.
But what happens when I get the flu virus? Do I get just a sore arm and mild flu-like symptoms?
NO! This is what  I feel like on the flu shot: zombedToo Zombie to get out of bed.

That’s what it is. The side effects of the vaccination cause me to be so sick that I am bedridden for days, sometimes a week or more, just from the shot.

Now, if I were prone to getting “SicK” instead of just “Ill,” I might consider getting the shots.

It’s a controversial topic. I’m not the only Fibromyalgia Survivor that has suffered ill effects from the Flu Shot; it’s happened with others as well. Some doctors who treat chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia recommend against  the shot, though others argue that the effects of the flu are more devastating than the illness itself.

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2 thoughts on “Why I don’t do Flu Shots

  1. I think this is an important subject you’ve touched on here, at least when it comes to addressing why the flu shot is not right for everyone. There are definitely cases where the side effects of the vaccine are devastating, even though these cases are not widespread, and I think that’s where the disconnect is happening.

    Immune systems vary greatly between people for any number of reasons, and what might work benignly for the majority may not be right for specific individuals. I don’t feel that many of those people that find themselves in extenuating circumstances have done the research (as harsh as that sounds) that would grant them a better understanding of WHY they feel sick. It’s easy to put two and two together and think, hey there’s influenza in my vaccine and now I’m sick, surely the vaccine gave me influenza. Really it’s a much different animal. Vaccines are rigorously tested, and the inactive influenza vaccine does not contain live virus. The attenuated influenza vaccine contains live virus, but it is weak, and incapable of thriving under certain, warmer temperatures present in your body.

    There is a lot of misinformation about vaccination, and we seem to be bombarded by it every season. It’s easy to understand why those with little time or interest might have the wrong idea. But it’s also important that if they do have a bad reaction to the vaccine that not only are their issues validated, but that they are also educated so that they may understand that it is most likely the vaccine itself they are reacting to. Not the influenza it protects against.

    Like

    • Mandy says:

      It’s not even necessarily the illness itself; but the extreme flare-ups that occur after I have received vaccinations for influenza. They flare-up my already quite severe chronic illness, making it even harder for me to get out of bed than normal. If you check out what I wrote in my earlier blog: you will see I’m pretty much in pain and sick most of the time.
      Vaccinations amplify this condition.

      Like

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