Flu Vaccine. Necessary or Harmful?

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    Just curious as to what you guys think about the flu vaccine. Don't sit here and feed me the CDC's "recommendations", as I am well aware of them and also their "statistics". From my own personal research, I've found that the number of cases of flu related deaths seem to be blown out of proportion. Also that the vaccine contains questionable ingredients, such as formaldehyde and mercury, which are known to be quite toxic to the body...particularly the brain. And it also disturbs me about the strange phenomenon of guillian-barre syndrome that occurs in some people as well as other neurological types of side effects. There are documented vaccine-related deaths from extreme allergic reactions, to unknown reasons, but there is suspicion that these are underreported. I have also ALWAYS been puzzled as to the process of creating the vaccine itself. We basically just make an educated guess as to which strains of flu will be most prevalent during the upcoming flu season and place those strains in the vaccine. So in otherwords, it might work or it might be totally useless.

    This leaves me to question as to why are we injecting our patients and ourselves with this every year? Do the risks of getting or spreading the flu truly outweigh the risks associated with the vaccine? And is it ethical to force all healthcare workers to get an annual flu vaccine or be terminated? In my area, there are hospitals who have fired hundreds of employees who refused to take the vaccine. That's pretty extreme in my opinion. I mean...I've had the flu. Other than feeling like a truck ran over me for a week....I survived. And it really wasn't THAT bad.

    Why are we so paranoid of the flu? Yes it can be a deadly disease....usually only in the sickest, most immunocompromised of patients, like the elderly or those with many comorbidities, so I get that. But...the average healthy person just gets knocked on their keester for a week or so, then they are just fine. And in the process formed new immunities against whatever strain of virus they had. To some extent, it is good for the body to be exposed to pathogens because of the immunities that are developed.

    There are some studies suggesting that annual flu vaccines lead to Alzheimer's later in life. I would personally rather take my chances with the flu every year. And have the right to make that decision for myself without having my job/livelyhood dangling over my head. I just feel like trying to prevent a (in most cases) non-fatal illness is a waste of resources. This really makes me question the true motives of this "flu paranoia" and the use of scare-tactics and bullying to get people to take the vaccine. Yes, threatening your job over a vaccine is bullying in my opinion and it's not right. If there was an outbreak of (insert deadly disease) going on, cities were being quarantined and health care workers were refusing the vaccine....that's a whole different scenario.

    No, I am not a conspiracy theorist that thinks the government is deliberately trying to inject us with "something".

    And for you people with the "it's the right thing to do to proctect your patients" mantra...save it. I wash my hands, I stay home if I have a fever. Period. Your 50/50 flu shot doesn't make you any less likely to spread flu virus if you don't wash your hands. Your hands are a vector whether you are immune or not.

    I welcome all your comments....pro vaccine or against.
    Last edit by HeartRN_09 on Nov 27, '13
    Tinkk and Bklyn_RN like this.
  2. 50 Comments so far...

  3. 12
    Before I decided to go to nursing school I was a biology major and happened to take an upper level class on virology. While you make some valid points about vaccine reactions and ingredients it is important to remember that vaccine reactions are quite rare, only a very small percentage of the vaccinated population actually develop them. The ingredients needed to preserve the vaccine are in very small quantities and have not been shown to cause any serious long term health issues.

    The flu vaccine is not made based on an educated guess. Scientists around the world study flu outbreaks and trends around the year to determine which are most likely to be active during the season.

    I strongly advocate for the annual flu vaccine. What many people fail to realize is that vaccination has prevented MANY childhood illnesses that were once crippling or deadly. We have essentially almost eradicated polio and completely did it with Smallpox. In a world where everyone is interconnected the risk for a flu pandemic is quite real, as we saw with swine flu a few years ago. Imagine a flu outbreak like the Spanish Flu of 1918 in today's world, with thousands of international flights a day. Imagine how quickly infection could spread.

    While many of us healthcare workers complain that we have to get a vaccine, we are at the front lines if there were to be an outbreak so I would like to be prepared along with the necessary PPE.
    Last edit by Okami on Nov 27, '13 : Reason: Spelling
  4. 7
    I would rather take my chances with the Flu too, because I don't really care if I get it. I would not rather take my chances and risk giving it to a patient who can't get the shot themselves and I really don't want to wear a mask, they are suffocating. That's why I get it. There are tons and tons and tons of threads around here on this topic, btw. They all have some good opinions.
    wtbcrna, cardiacfreak, Madras, and 4 others like this.
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    1) oP has stated her view that side effects are underreported, can you help us with that? not just deny it?

    2) this is pretty much the definition of an educated guess, lol.
    3) The subject here is the flu vac, not the others.
    Quote from happyloser
    Before I decided to go to nursing school I was a biology major and happened to take an upper level class on virology. 1)While you make some valid points about vaccine reactions and ingredients it is important to remember that vaccine reactions are quite rare, only a very small percentage of the vaccinated population actually develop them. The ingredients needed to preserve the vaccine are in very small quantities and have not been shown to cause any serious long term health issues.

    2)The flu vaccine is not made based on an educated guess. Scientists around the world study flu outbreaks and trends around the year to determine which are most likely to be active during the season.

    I strongly advocate for the annual flu vaccine.3) the subject here is specifically the flu vac, not the rest. 3)What many people fail to realize is that vaccination has prevented MANY childhood illnesses that were once crippling or deadly. We have essentially almost eradicated polio and completely did it with Smallpox. In a world where everyone is interconnected the risk for a flu pandemic is quite real, as we saw with swine flu a few years ago. Imagine a flu outbreak like the Spanish Flu of 1918 in today's world, with thousands of international flights a day. Imagine how quickly infection could spread.

    While many of us healthcare workers complain that we have to get a vaccine, we are at the front lines if there were to be an outbreak so I would like to be prepared along with the necessary PPE.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Nov 28, '13
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    Haha Morte those were my thoughts exactl, especially with number 2.
    cardiacfreak likes this.
  7. 1
    Haha Morte those were my thoughts exactly, especially with #2.

    I think overall my point is being missed. Why is the potential of a flu outbreak so disturbing? The flu is an inconvenience not a death sentence. I'm pretty certain that a lot of the deaths attributed to "flu" are more like the straw that finally broke the camel's back....someone with end stage CHF or COPD is not going to fare well against a respiratory illness on top of the problems that already exist. In essence the flu didn't kill them....it just helped push them over the edge that they were hanging by a thread to in the first place.
    Bklyn_RN likes this.
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    yup, in a very cold, but realistic statement, it is culling the herd. You know that pneumonia was called "the old man's friend"?
    Quote from HeartRN_09
    Haha Morte those were my thoughts exactly, especially with #2.

    I think overall my point is being missed. Why is the potential of a flu outbreak so disturbing? The flu is an inconvenience not a death sentence. I'm pretty certain that a lot of the deaths attributed to "flu" are more like the straw that finally broke the camel's back....someone with end stage CHF or COPD is not going to fare well against a respiratory illness on top of the problems that already exist. In essence the flu didn't kill them....it just helped push them over the edge that they were hanging by a thread to in the first place.
  9. 9
    Quote from morte
    yup, in a very cold, but realistic statement, it is culling the herd
    So you're saying I deserve to be "culled" for daring to live with a respiratory illness?

    What about the children who died from garden-variety flu between 2004-2012, 40% of which had no underlying risk and were perfectly healthy before they caught the flu? (source) Did they need to be culled? You're saying the estimated 100,000-200,000 deaths from swine flu, a majority of whom were young people, deserved to die? (source) You're saying that we should all stop getting the flu shots and invite another flu pandemic like the one in 1918, which killed more people in ONE year than the Bubonic Plague killed in FOUR? (source) But hey, that's just getting rid of the chaff, right? Who needs a younger generation anyway? The 1918 flu was most deadly to people between the ages of 20 and 40 (source), which is the majority of the current workforce (including healthcare), but that's no big loss I'm sure.

    [ETA] All of which is not to mention, someone with CHF or COPD could still live for years if they aren't exposed to a flu virus. How dare you suggest that they should go ahead and die now instead of spending their last days/months/years alive? Do you also think cancer patients shouldn't get treatment? I mean, they're going to die anyway, and if it's discovered at stage four why even bother offering them treatment. [/ETA]

    I didn't really expect to see any new anti-vaccine arguments in this thread, but you have surpassed all others with your incredible assertion that people deserve to die from a disease just because you don't believe the research presented by the CDC.


    Quote from HeartRN_09
    To some extent, it is good for the body to be exposed to pathogens because of the immunities that are developed.
    Do you realize what you have described here? VACCINATION. That is literally the entire point of getting your flu shot.
    Last edit by fetch on Nov 27, '13 : Reason: eta in brackets
    Not_A_Hat_Person, wtbcrna, Luckyyou, and 6 others like this.
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    I did my honors research on the efficacy of the flu vaccine among health care workers. Although recommended, less than half of HCWs get the vaccine. This is due to numerous misconceptions about the vaccine, lack of access and education about the flu and the flu vaccine.

    And there is substantial research that shows that HCWs are vectors of the flu virus. After reading the literature out there, I am definitely a proponent of the flu vaccine. Of course, I do believe that forcing HCWs to take it or even terminating employment is very severe and out of line if they decline the vaccine. But you have to remember, the patients you deal with in the hospital are sick and vulnerable, and the last thing their body needs is a flu virus to besiege them on top of what they are in the hospital for already. Granted, if you are young and healthy, the flu vaccine is not necessarily needed. Good hand hygiene will do. But if you do take care of children, elderly and/or critically ill patients, I personally would advise to take it.

    When a person is infected with the flu, transmission actually can occur prior to symptoms appearing. So for example, if you're infected unknowingly, you can transmit that to your coworkers and patients, and they can transmit it to other coworkers and other patients, exponentiating the effect. The flu is highly contagious. As a nurse, getting vaccinated is the ability for me to protect myself, my fellow coworkers, and my patients.
    mama.RN, loriangel14, fetch, and 1 other like this.
  11. 17
    Quote from HeartRN_09

    From my own personal research, I've found that the number of cases of flu related deaths seem to be blown out of proportion.
    Share the sources your have uncovered in your research so we can read them and respond. What study do you think is most compelling?

    Quote from HeartRN_09
    Why are we so paranoid of the flu? Yes it can be a deadly disease....usually only in the sickest, most immunocompromised of patients, like the elderly or those with many comorbidities, so I get that.
    Exactly. Are the majority of patients on wards or in clinics healthy? Most nurses are surrounded by....the sickest people.

    Quote from HeartRN_09
    To some extent, it is good for the body to be exposed to pathogens because of the immunities that are developed.
    This is an argument for vaccination isn't it?

    Quote from HeartRN_09
    There are some studies suggesting that annual flu vaccines lead to Alzheimer's later in life.
    Please share a citation!

    This is an absolute untruth that has been disproved by several major studies including the landmark 2004 paper in JAMA as well as well-powered study from the CMAJ looking directly at this link. The original link was proposed by Dr. Fudenberg, who started the MMR and Autisim debate. He was also stripped of his medical license in 1995 for unethical conduct.

    Verreault, R., Laurin, D., Lindsay, J., & De Serres, G. (2001). Past exposure to vaccines and subsequent risk of Alzheimer's disease. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 165(11), 1495-1498.

    Quote from HeartRN_09
    This really makes me question the true motives of this "flu paranoia" and the use of scare-tactics and bullying to get people to take the vaccine.
    Google flu vaccine on the internet.

    Do you get "scare" tactics from the CDC and AMA and AANP?

    No. You get "scare" tactics from a myriad of pseudoscience websites promoting false data and defunct studies to "scare" people into avoiding vaccination.
    Last edit by BostonFNP on Nov 27, '13
    Not_A_Hat_Person, wtbcrna, NRSKarenRN, and 14 others like this.


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