Getting a Flu Shot? No? Well read this, you big fat baby

I have a confession: I never used to get the flu shot. In my mind, it was only for people who were over 65, or for kids who were prone to getting really, really sick. About 6 years ago, after a super late night out in which I saw the sunrise, I got the flu.

Conveniently, it was the first weekend of March break, and I happen to be a teacher. I spent the week in bed, thinking that “any day now” the horrible, painful wheezing in my chest would go away. I was very wrong. I did end up feeling much better after about 10 days, but my first day back at work was a nightmare. My respiratory function was so impaired that standing up and speaking in front of the class made me feel winded. And I am, compared to some, a very healthy person.

I think about how shitty the flu made me feel, and then I think about Branko. With the respiratory issues that he has, he probably feels mildly shitty most of the time. When he gets sick, his lungs take a huge hit. His skeletal dysplasia makes it very difficult to expel any fluid that accumulates in his lungs. If he were to get any form of influenza right now, his chance of surviving would be very low.

Okay, back to the flu shot. Um, why doesn’t everyone get one? Why is this still a debate? I understand that some people are just plain lazy and selfish. THAT’S FINE. I used to be one of these people (see above). Now that I have a child who could be in big trouble if he gets sick, it is now my mission to convince some of the lazy, selfish, people of the world to get the flu shot. If you simply don’t care about my child/children/people in general, you might not be interested in the rest of this post. Go ahead and carry on with your weekend activities like brunch and pen-palling with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

THINGS A WHINY PERSON MIGHT SAY ABOUT THE FLU SHOT:

1) “Wah-wah! But I’m a 36-year old baby… won’t the flu shot make me feel sick?”

Yes, and no. There is always a chance that an attenuated virus will cause some symptoms of the illness to which you are being vaccinated against. BUT (listen up, this is important!) you will not actually develop RESPIRATORY symptoms from the flu shot. These symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing up garbage from deep inside your lungs, pale skin, cold hands, etc. Milder symptoms such as headache, fever, vomiting, and body aches are pretty effing shitty, but you aren’t gonna end up in the ICU. Most of these symptoms, if you even have them at all, last only a few days. Guess how long the flu lasts for a HEALTHY person?? Oh, about 2-3 weeks.

2) “But so-and-so got the flu shot and they still got sick like, 10 times last year!!!!”

Yes, this is another possibility. But guess what, smartie pants? OTHER VIRUSES EXIST. Sorry. There is no such thing as a universal shot that will protect you from every nasty respiratory virus. However, the flu shot will actually do two amazing things: 1) If you do end up getting the flu, even with a flu shot, the severity of your symptoms will be much less than if you didn’t get the shot, and 2) The flu shot can actually offer some protection from other viruses. The bottom line: people that get the flu shot will tend to get sick fewer times during the cold and flu season*.

*How many published scientific papers do I have to back up this last point? ZERO. Yes, I dared to write a statement based purely on anecdotal evidence. SOUND FAMILIAR, JENNY MCCARTHY?Pretty much every pediatric nurse who I’ve discussed this with (off the record) agrees that people who have gotten the flu shot are less prone to both respiratory and intestinal viruses.

3)  “I am a precious flower who never gets sick, so why would I even bother getting a flu shot?”

Groan. Oh, you never get sick? That sounds so nice. Please tell me all about that in great detail sometime. My son doesn’t get sick very often, but when he does, he goes straight to the ICU for a couple of weeks. Do you know how not-fun being in the ICU is? I promise you, it’s not Canada’s Wonderland. It’s not even Marineland. It’s a shitshow with a capital S. A long ICU stay involves not sleeping, eating, or showering regularly. It involves not seeing the other parent/your partner AT ALL because you are usually there in shifts. It involves taking unpaid time off work. It involves exposing your other children to nasty viruses in the hospital. It involves missed appointments, cancelled dinner plans, and $20-$30 per day in parking. There are always great moments, like when your son eats 5 chocolate bars in a row, but it’s usually pretty terrible.

IN CONCLUSION: Don’t be one of those omigawd-I-never-get-sick-cause-oregano-oil people. This is how silly you look when you argue against the science:

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