It’s that time of year here again. Cold, snow, slush, wet socks, crowded malls, bad drivers, etc, etc. I’m not talking about the holiday season. No, this is flu season.
Among other things (my birthday, email me for an address to send gifts to), November 26th was flu shot day at work. Being a well-informed individual, I had scheduled mine as soon as they released the sign-ups. As I stood in line waiting for the nurse to bring me the consent form that I have to sign, I noticed that there weren’t that many people in line with me. Maybe a dozen or so, our Ottawa office employs over 500 individuals. When the nurse brought me the consent form I had to sign, which asked me, among other things, if I was allergic to formaldehyde. I asked her if this was it. Are these the only people that signed up to get the shot? She said no, there was another group scheduled an hour later and another after lunch. About 10% of the employees signed up for it. I was kind of disheartened. That seemed strange, maybe I can take into account people who got the shot at their doctor’s office, or at one of the many free flu shot clinics at pharmacies all around.
So I went back to work kind of perplexed. At lunch, I asked my co-workers how many of them got their shot. None of them did. I asked if they knew that our company offered them today. All of them did. So I asked what their reasons are for not getting it. And here’s where I got the same old tired excuses that I’ve heard WAY too many times before.
1. You can get the flu from the flu shot
2. I get the shot and I still get sick
3. I’m allergic to eggs (and yes, this person was eating a sandwich with lots of mayonnaise on it)
4. I never get the flu shot and I never get the flu
So I explained to them how you can’t get the flu from the shot, it’s a dead virus. It’s like saying you can get attacked by a dead dog. I explained how the shot is good against only a few of the predicted strains but it still gives you some immunity to flu in general. I didn’t touch the allergy one except to throw in a “how’s your sandwich? Looks good.” And I explained how the flu shot doesn’t just protect you, it protects those around you. Most importantly, those who are more at-risk of having flu-related complications.
I didn’t convince one of them. Oh well, I tried. I performed my skeptical duty and informed people, planted the nugget as Bob would say.
In the meantime, I suggest you all re-listen to the interview with Mark Crislip from SGU episode 117. Not only is it damned entertaining and funny, but it gets deeper into the subject of the flu and the flu shot.
And for even more flu shot info from Dr Crislip, listen to Quackcast episode 20. There Mark, now where’s my $5?