Having a needle phobia, I have succeeded in avoiding many shots/vaccines that are not mandatory, or otherwise forced by my parents. The flu shot being one of these, actually both I should say. I have only received the flu shot once because of the pressure from my parents. I ended up getting sick – as I usually do every winter season – soon after the shot. This resulted in the perfect excuse for me to never receive the flu shot again, but subconsciously I knew I was taking advantage of this.

You can't get the flu from the flu shot. Photo by Cody Hoffman

You can’t get the flu from the flu shot. Photo by Cody Hoffman

I am not the only one to take advantage of this excuse. I have heard from many people that refrainfrom getting the flu shot because they claimed to have become sick with cold or flu like symptoms shortly after. Some probably truly believe the shot gave them the flu, others may be reluctant, or some may be just like me: avoiding the awful sensation of a fluid getting inserted into your body.

That feeling stays with me for days after I receive a vaccine or shot. It is an uncomforting sensation, unnatural, one that brings my anxiety to extremities and sends shivers down my spine – from the base of my scalp down to the very end of my tail bone.

What an odd thing to do, insert a virus into a person’s body in order to fight off other viruses. The very concept gives me goose bumps; but it works, and I have finally taken the time to actually do some background research to prove this.

It only took me one simple google search to find a liable source on the matter, and abracadabra, the flu shot was no longer the big scary monster underneath my bed. According to the official Ontario website, “You can’t get the flu from the flu shot.” The vaccine does contain a flu virus, but it is inactive and otherwise cannot not affect you like normal viruses do.

The official Ontario website also explains most people that get sick after the shot would have already gotten sick whether the shot was taken or not. They could have gotten the virus before the shot, or in the two weeks it takes for your body to build up its defences and develop the flu shot’s protection. Considering that the flu shot is said to prevent the flu in 60 to 80 per cent of healthy adults and children, another reason could be that you just are not in that percentage.

The vaccine does however protect you from viruses, three strains in specific. The World Health Organization identifies these strains through specific scientific research. They determine this through consideration of what strains are currently making people sick, how these viruses are spreading, and how effective the previous year’s vaccine was.

Along with every other city, the Brant County Health Unit encourages healthy adults and children to get the flu shot every year – and they do so for a reason. The flu shot cannot give you the flu, at the bear minimum it could just not work for you, but every year the vaccine changes and adapts so if it does not work one year it still could the next. When it comes down to it, there is no harm in getting the flu shot besides the anxiety of the whole scenario. If you are anything like me, you will get the flu at the perfectly wrong time and could end up missing out on important things in your life because of it.It’s not worth it, so give it a shot, literally.

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