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Influenza is a serious problem in the very young, those with a suppressed immune system, or the elderly.

If you don't fit in one of those categories, don't waste your time.

Posted by Mike in Olympia | October 29, 2008 1:09 PM

I have always refused the flu shot tyranny. My mom does *not* work in Public Health, but is a worrier and despite my adult age of 24, calls me every fall to harangue me. I've taken to lying and saying I did just to get her to stop.

I disagree with flu shots.

Posted by Glasses | October 29, 2008 1:10 PM

If you've never had the flu, and you get a flu shot, it may actually give you the flu. I've gotten a shot every year for the last 6 years and I haven't had the flu, or even a cold, during that time. I swear by them!

Posted by Jaxxi Hax | October 29, 2008 1:11 PM

@1 is right. Though, I would add people who are around kids all the time (e.g., teachers) and health care workers to that list.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 29, 2008 1:13 PM

Don't do it!! I want to hear you bitch when you come down with a nasty case of the flu and end up in the hospital. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | October 29, 2008 1:13 PM

I love the flu. It gives me an excuse to stay at home and work on things that don't matter, like Xbox achievements.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 29, 2008 1:14 PM

I don't get 'em, and I don't think I've had the flu recently. Even if I have, who cares? Getting sick every now and then isn't so bad, if you're otherwise healthy.

I'm no conspiracy theorist, but the increasing mania for these shots over the past couple of years is kind of weird.

Posted by Anthony Hecht | October 29, 2008 1:19 PM

weird - I have a similar fear but I can't remember what put that bug in my ear.

Posted by kelly | October 29, 2008 1:21 PM

A flu shot protects not just you from the flu but also the people around you from catching something from you. So you should get one. However, I've never gotten one so I'm a total hypocrite - but at least I'm honest. Okay, I'll get one this year.

You might get sick right after the shot because of something else - it happens. But the viruses in a flu shot are dead/inactive so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot:

Posted by Mark | October 29, 2008 1:22 PM

Agree with @1.... my doc says flu shots are for old people, young children, people with compromised immune systems, and people who work closely with any of those 3 categories.

Posted by Nixor | October 29, 2008 1:22 PM

Get the shot. When the hunger for braaaiinnzzz overwhelms, look for Lindy West.

Posted by Flu shots are good fo you and me | October 29, 2008 1:26 PM

You wonder why the stranger staff all gets sick at the same time? It's cause of nonsense like this? And barebacking.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 1:30 PM

A coworker asked me this morning if I was getting one (the company pays for them). I didn't even have to consider: nope! I never get them, and I am a-ok with that. Aside from my general avoidance of medicine, I also think flu shots seem fishy. I'd rather bolster my immune system with nutrition and common sense than rely on a shot to keep me healthy.

Posted by Aislinn | October 29, 2008 1:31 PM


Of course you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. The virus, grown in eggs, is treated with detergent. It's totally defunct. Repeat after me: You. Cannot. Get. Flu. From. The. Injectable. Vaccine.

This year might be a good year to get it, given there has been a significant shift in all four antigens. I.e. you have a better chance of not having immunity. For herd immunity alone, it's a decent thing to do for your fellow citizens, who might be immunocompromised.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | October 29, 2008 1:35 PM

Get the shot.
It not only protects you, it protects the people you might infect if you do happen to get the flu. History has shown the effectiveness of vaccines against diseases such as smallpox and polio. If people had refused smallpox vaccines we'd still be paying the price today.

Posted by oneManArmy | October 29, 2008 1:37 PM

You only get the syphilis injection if you are black or gay.

Posted by Breklor | October 29, 2008 1:38 PM

I haven't had the flu since I had little kids in kindergarten a decade ago -- isn't the flu shot last year's flu vaccine, like a prevention from whatever flu was going around the previous year?

Weirdly, I've never gotten a flu shot but there suddenly seems to be more hype/worry about it this year.

Posted by um | October 29, 2008 1:42 PM

I like getting the flu really. It reminds me what it's like to be a child.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 1:42 PM

I caught the flu last year, and was frickin' miserable for 4 days. As in, I suggested I go to a doctor to my wife. She was shocked. Bleah. But I really hate getting shots. (no conspiracy theory here)

But for the obligatory conspiracy: How that company REALLY makes money:

Posted by Fe Man | October 29, 2008 1:43 PM

How about starting with not making medical decisions based on anecdata.

Do you want to reduce your chance of getting the flu? Then get the shot. If you don't then don't. This is not a major life decision.

Posted by Giffy | October 29, 2008 1:45 PM

I would never admit it publicly, but I will not get a flu shot for the exact same reasons.

Posted by Ryan | October 29, 2008 1:45 PM

I'm a nurse, so yes, duh, you should get a flu shot.
@1 - If you *ever* come into contact with these vulnerable populations, you could pass influenza on to them. Plus, the flu isn't just a cold, it can and does kill, even healthy adults. Per the CDC, flu kills 36,000 annually in the US.
@2 - Also see above.
@3 - Getting the flu from a flu shot is a myth, I concur with other posts here that say the same thing.
@6 - See my response to 1.
@7 - You too. Plus I think it's just the CDC and the media doing a better job of informing the public.

I get a flu shot every year, no problems. My advice: Please get one, too.

Posted by Madashell | October 29, 2008 1:46 PM

Thanks Jonathan.

It was only in, well, a long time ago, when vaccines used live viruses. Now, they're dead and CANNOT do anything to you. These corpses protect you from their living brothers and sisters.

Thus ends my extraordinarily scientific explanation.

Long live the virus corpse!

Posted by Karla | October 29, 2008 1:47 PM

What to do? Start by dialing down the crazy...

Posted by Sean | October 29, 2008 1:48 PM

@3, you can't get the flu from a flu shot. They use a deactivated form of the virus.

Posted by julia | October 29, 2008 1:51 PM

I find the flu shot suspicious. Flu bugs aren't the same. How do they know which flu bug is coming?

Posted by Flu who? | October 29, 2008 1:52 PM

@26 Science.

Posted by Giffy | October 29, 2008 1:55 PM

avoid all other people for the duration of "flu season"

Posted by misanthrope | October 29, 2008 1:56 PM

I got a flu several years ago that landed me in the hospital and lost me a job offer. Since then, I've gotten a flu shot every year. It helps that my employer pays for it.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 29, 2008 1:57 PM

People who don't flu shots out of fear of some ulterior motive are nuts. Those that don't get them so they can feel alive are crazy!

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 1:58 PM

I hate shots in general, so no flu shot for me.

Besides, I hardly ever get the flu, but when I do, it's like a free vacation!*

(*accompanied by nausea, headaches, congestion, occasional vomiting, and spending several days in bed. **)

(** As I said - just like a vacation!)

Posted by COMTE | October 29, 2008 1:58 PM

Myth: the flu shot can give you the flu.
Fact: the shot contains killed virus, so it's simply not possible to contract the flu from the shot. When millions of people get the flu shot, of course some of them are going to come down with a cold the next week and blame it on the shot. People get colds all the time, with or without flu shots.

Myth: the flu is no big deal.
Fact: "the flu hospitalizes 200,000 people in the U.S. each year. It kills about 36,000. Thatís close to the number of women killed by breast cancer each year, and more than twice the number of people killed by AIDS." (more flu myths)

It's really a no-brainer. Get the shot. Protect yourself and your community.

By the way, all those "immunity-boosting" supplements are also mythical.

Posted by M2 | October 29, 2008 1:59 PM

Ooooooh! I like nanobots! Government issued nanobots too!

Posted by Vince | October 29, 2008 1:59 PM

I've never had the flu since I almost died of it when I was 16.

I'm not jinxing that by getting a synthetic shot.

Posted by DLF | October 29, 2008 2:00 PM

I'm self-employed and I always get a flu shot (or the mist up the nose). It's easy, there are no side effects that I've ever noticed, and I have been lucky to not get the flu. I can't really afford to be out of work for two weeks.

Posted by Mike in SF | October 29, 2008 2:04 PM

I suppose you or your parents could reject polio shots and various childhood immunizations against measles, chicken pox, whooping cough for the same lame ass reasons. And, like certain religious sects, just say it's God's will if you get sick or die...or worse, infect your companions.

No research has been done on whether avoidance of such immunizations reduces your propensity for retention of critical thinking.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | October 29, 2008 2:05 PM

I'm too lazy to go get one, but the more of you people who get a flu shot, the less likely it is that you'll give me the flu. Thx.

Posted by elenchos | October 29, 2008 2:06 PM

i get flu shots every year and there's nothing wrong with ME.

Posted by scary tyler moore | October 29, 2008 2:06 PM

If my memory of microbio from an age ago is correct, the flu virus is capable of hopping around between people, pigs and poultry (chicken? ducks? both? I forget). You get multiple strains in one animal and they get a chance to mix up and create a new strain. This most often happens in parts of rural asia, so the CDC monitors flu strains that appear there, and based on what shows up most often, make their predictions for what will be the dominant strains that will spread to the rest of the world that year. The flu vaccines are made based on these predictions, but they do have to set those decisions well in advance of when the flu season starts, so they aren't always right. I think last year what ended up being one of the more common strains was missing from the vaccine.

Golob, I think this would be a great topic for the next "Ask Science".

Posted by Ex-bio-geek | October 29, 2008 2:10 PM

People who work for unions like getting the flu. They also like getting paid for nothing.

Posted by Heritage Auction Gallery | October 29, 2008 2:10 PM

I think not getting one because you're afraid of some conspiracy is stupid, but I also don't see it as a "must do" for me. I haven't gotten one in 8-9 years.

It's not that I don't think the flu is serious (though, that 36,000 deaths number is a little misleading for this audience, since 90% of people who die from the flu are over 65). But, I am not in a high risk group, and I rarely spend any time around kids or seniors. So, it's not a high priority for me...

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 29, 2008 2:11 PM

The flu shot is ineffective, doesn't apply to you, can give you the flu, injects nanobots, doesn't target the right viruses, and contains mysterious "synthetics" which should make you afraid.

Going to a drug store and standing in line to get poked with a needle is annoying, and it's much easier to visualize something more immediately gratifying to do with $25. It's also more fun to cite luck/fate/karma if you don't get it and stay in bed watching DVDs of Lost with sympathetic friends bringing you soup if you do.

Posted by Damien | October 29, 2008 2:14 PM


Name ONE person, union member or not, who DOESN'T like "getting paid for nothing".

Posted by COMTE | October 29, 2008 2:15 PM

How do they know which flu bug is coming?

They don't. They have to guess, and occasionally they're wrong:

Posted by F | October 29, 2008 2:19 PM

i've worked with the homeless, mentally ill and elderly for 10 years. I've never had a flu shot and never had the flu. Don't do it.

Posted by noway | October 29, 2008 2:23 PM

You've been watching "The Last Enemy" on PBS and taking it too seriously.

This year's flu season injection rate is being being monitored by the CDC to provide baseline information for planning the public health response to a possible flu pandemic. Univ of Wa Med Ctr and Harborview both conducted a 24 hour flu shot marathon to see how close to 100% vaccination rate they could get with scheduled staff on a voluntary basis.

Posted by inkweary | October 29, 2008 2:23 PM

Flu shots are bunk. I protect myself by licking the handsets of public telephones and stranger's car door handles at the mall.

Posted by Fnarf | October 29, 2008 2:23 PM

@39 nailed it. I'd second the request to anyone who comes into contact with other people to get them - I've had two flus develop into pneumonia, and it's permanently screwed up my lungs. It's not like it's a big deal - and up in BC, they pay for shots for anyone in or working with a high risk group.

Posted by wench | October 29, 2008 2:32 PM

Totally pro shot. Not going to argue with science, statistics, or common sense. Here's to hoping those of you with needle anxiety keep your lungs free of fluid all Winter long.

Posted by jackie treehorn | October 29, 2008 2:37 PM

Man, do we ever need better science education in this country.

Posted by mint chocolate chip | October 29, 2008 2:40 PM

The Last Enemy rocks!

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 2:47 PM

OK, so maybe I'm cynical, but I think of the flu and various other ailments as part of natural selection. If I catch the flu and die, then that's that. At some point, we have to accept our own mortality. Ultimately, everyone's gotta go. There isn't enough room on this planet for everyone to live forever. There's not really enough room on this planet for us as it is.

Posted by Sarah | October 29, 2008 2:59 PM

Point 1: The only time I've gotten the flu in the last 10 yrs has been only on the years I've decided to get a flu shot. However, I dont normally get the flu, or the pervasive cold that travels thru the office, home or peoples with children. I do wash my hands constantly and have conditioned myself to keep my hands away from my face, and keep my exposure to sick people to a minimum.
Point 2: This seems to be much more effective then the flu shot. While a lot of science goes into predicting what strains will be ultimately is a guess so getting a flu shot doesnt garentee you wont still get the flu, and I understand that me getting the flu is interestingly coincidental, but seems to me that living a healthy lifestyle and practicing better hygeine is more effective at reducing risk then actually taking the shot.

Posted by drone5969 | October 29, 2008 3:05 PM

Even if the CDC is off with their targeting of the two most common strains (they were last year, the prominent strain was a mutation), the flu shot gives you partial immunity, anyway. If this situation occurs and you get the flu, it is less severe than if you didn't have the shot at all.

Posted by Madashell | October 29, 2008 3:18 PM

Sarah, why stop there? Go visit elderly people when YOU have the flu. Eliminate people breathing your air, drinking your water.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 3:18 PM

Getting sick keeps you healthy.

What doesn't kill you protects you from getting worse things. Like how they recently found out that stomach virus keeps you from getting some cancers.

Remember that eradicating the sickle cell genes will erase all protection from malaria.

We walk a thin line. I'm not getting the vaccine.

Posted by subwlf | October 29, 2008 3:27 PM

Add asthmatics to the list of people who should get it no matter what. I didn't get the flu for at least ten years, then got it twice in two years. This year I had to go to the hospital for a breathing treatment, and the nurse chastised me for not getting a shot. I don't have a suppressed immune system, but I do have a lung condition that can kill me if it goes rampaging out of control.

Posted by EmilyP | October 29, 2008 3:34 PM

Bellevue Ave, I'm not evil, and it's not my place to play God. I've never had the flu, but when I've got a cold, I stay home from work and cancel my social plans to help prevent my friends and coworkers from getting sick too. I would never knowingly infect another person with a potentially deadly virus.

But I'm just saying. We're all going to die. We've got to come to terms with that. And I see flu shots as a small denial of our mortality.

Posted by Sarah | October 29, 2008 3:43 PM

How are we supposed to make fun of rural bumpkins when so many of us (see the majority of comments above) are so dumb and anti-science?

You get a flu shot not for you, but for babies, pregnant ladies, old people, and people with AIDS who are variously susceptible to getting the flu, cannot be vaccinated, and/or may die if they catch the flu. Get vaccinated, or be complicit in spreading a disease that kills.

Posted by Eric F | October 29, 2008 3:49 PM


You can be a carrier of the flu for up to a week before you come down with it. So, please stay away from babies, elderly people, and the HIV-positive between now and late spring. Thanks.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 29, 2008 3:59 PM

@50 - couldn't agree more.

Get the shot. Science is always better than superstition, but superstition feels stronger. I've usually gotten the flu shot, but two years ago, i skipped it. I got the flu twice in 3 months, lost 6 days of work that i could have used for vacation. I just think of it as my vacation protection plan now. Colds suck. Flu makes you go between wishing you would die and wondering if you will.

Posted by DCam | October 29, 2008 4:02 PM

Bellevue Ave @18: Yes, "reminds" you...

I am not getting a flu shot even though my boss will pay for mine. The joy of winter is getting sick and coughing on babies.

Posted by Mikki | October 29, 2008 4:08 PM

yeah, why fight illness? it's just flaunting life in the face of mortality.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 4:09 PM

Public Health Seattle King County employee, here. Thanks to @22 and @32.

Unless you never come into contact with children, or people who have children, or old people, you should get vaccinated.

You are also highly exposed to the flu/ likely to expose these populations to the flu if you:

Ride the bus
Work in a large office building with lots of people.

Don't wait. Vaccinate :)

Posted by jk | October 29, 2008 4:14 PM

Neither a child nor a senior, I got a shot this year because last year I got the flu for the first time in over 10 years and I basically lost a week of my life in bed. Unable to do books, video, tunes, or sex. Barely any sleep or eating. Lost 5 pounds. And I never get sick.

Look at how the mortality spiked for the 25-34 age group in the first graph here in the 1918 flu pandemic:

Also, a loss of 2.5+% in world population.

For $25 you can get the vaccine, at pharmacies for instance.

Posted by chicagogaydude | October 29, 2008 4:14 PM

Well, at some point, we're likely to have a really bad flu season, so yeah, get one.

Easiest way to cut your cases of flu in half are just to wash your hands with hot water and soap EVER time you go to the bathroom, though, and to use kleenex.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 29, 2008 5:01 PM

@65 has got it right. Get it, period. (& it amazes me that the same people who so rightly ridicule the Conservative tin-foil hat stories about Obama, will perfectly happily believe they can get the flu from the shot!!You know the supremely great artist Egon Schiele? If not, here:

He never got the chance to get one. Imagine if he could have though, and could have kept working past the age of 28. Why would you pass up would have saved him if it'd been around?

Posted by SL | October 29, 2008 5:57 PM

"a very small part of me thinks flu shots are a government plot to ..."

Paranoia like that totally undermines all the great work you guys at The Stranger do to promote reason over ridiculousness. Or maybe Dan's the only one who does that.

Posted by idaho | October 29, 2008 6:04 PM

Three things:

1) Those mean doctors at Tuskegee didn't actually *inject* people with syphilis. They simply withheld the diagnosis from the patient and deliberately didn't treat them. Not really relevant, but I just like accuracy.

2) All of you dumbfucks who say "I never got the shot, and I've never gotten sick" are probably driving around without using your seatbelts. Keep at it.

3) The shot can make you feel crappy for the first 36 hours after you get it, simply because your immune system reacts to the vaccine. Call these symptoms "flu lite." They are nothing compared to an actual influenza infection.

Posted by Yeek | October 29, 2008 7:16 PM

A doc recommended since I have no insurance a flu shot was a good idea. I'd been doing it for a while anyway... People who think shots are bad are silly. A few times my arm has been a bit sore, but generally I've had no reaction. I say get it. Esp since at the Stranger I'd think you have insurance?

Posted by Gillian | October 29, 2008 7:23 PM

@58, you win today's award for the biggest idiot on the internet.

Unless you don't buy food at a grocery store, enjoy the benefits of indoor plumbing, or visit the doctor.

In which case your the biggest idiot of the year.

Posted by Giffy | October 29, 2008 7:55 PM

How are so many of you confusing the influenza with a common cold? it's not the same virus, dumbasses. One may keep you off work for a couple of days, but the other sends you to hospital.

The shot will not protect you from a common cold, but it's going to protect you from contracting flu. It's a good idea for everyone. It's necessary for those who are not strong enough to live through a flu infection. simple as that.

Posted by lucy | October 30, 2008 1:37 AM

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