Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's that time of year again: vaccination time, that is

It’s time for that old annual influenza vaccination debate. There's an article in today's news picks about the pneumoccal vaccine: Patients with pneumonia who received pneumococcal vaccine have lower rate of death, ICU admission. The pneumococcal vaccine isn't the same as the influenza vaccine but the two come up at the same time of year.

The benefits of the flu vaccine are plenty. The vaccine reduces the chances of you getting the flu (Note, that I didn’t say “eliminates”); if you do get the flu, it’s likely that it will be a less virulent illness; it reduces the spread of the flu; it helps save money in the workplace by reducing absenteeism, and it reduces the cost of health care as it limits the number of people seeking medical care from the flu.

So, what to do? Opponents of the flu vaccine say that we need to fight viruses on our own, that they don’t need it because they never get sick, and when they do get sick, they don’t get that sick. The funny thing is that every person who has told me that they never get “that sick” when they get the flu – when they get the *real* flu, they’re so sick, they tell me that they never want to live through that again. To be fair though, that is only in my own experience.

We get the flu shot here in our home. I’m asthmatic, as are two of my three kids. I also am very susceptible to anything that attacks the lungs. Colds go directly to my lungs and cause great discomfort for weeks. I’m not taking a chance with the flu. If a cold can knock me off my feet, I’m afraid of what influenza can do. I had pleurisy once – never want to experience that again.

While the initial goal was to vaccinate the people who would get sickest should they get the flu (the elderly and immunocompromised), the latest push is to vaccinate those who aren't so susceptible. It seems that the vaccine isn’t as effective in the elderly but if the people around the elderly are vaccinated, they can’t pass it on to them. Makes sense to me.

But, it is a personal decision. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s your choice. But, please don’t fight against those of us who do. I’ve been told I’m a sheep for following the crowd. I’ve been told that I’m weakening my family members’ immune system by getting every vaccinated – I’ve been told a lot of things. The thing is, this is my choice just as those who don’t want a vaccination are making their choice. Neither is right or wrong, but both are the best decisions for us, with the information and the knowledge that we have.

Today's News:

One-year follow-up of a therapeutic lifestyle intervention targeting cardiovascular disease risk
Effect of perindopril on physical function in elderly people with functional impairment: a randomized controlled trial
Phone counselling leads to lower cardiovascular risk: study

Relatives of patients with Parkinson's disease risk developing dementia, cognitive impairment
Patients with pneumonia who received pneumococcal vaccine have lower rate of death, ICU admission
Swiss study suggests surgery may offer best chance of long-term prostate cancer survival
Bad relationships hurt the heart literally: study

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