Is it selfish not to get a Flu Shot?

  1. I've never gotten the flu shot, mainly because I've only had the flu once.

    On another BB at school (maybe she reads this bb too!) I was told that I may have gotten the virus, brushed it off without getting sick and infected other people without realizing it. Her arguement was if I didn't do it for myself think of my patients and coworkers and do it for them.

    Made me wonder how many people I might have infected all these years and am I selfish.

    Is there any documentation of this?

    I already acknowledge that the CDC recommends all health care providers get the flu shot. I didn't realize it was so we don't infect others and perhaps I should change my thinking.
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  2. 53 Comments

  3. by   Jessy_RN
    Quote from Tweety
    I've never gotten the flu shot, mainly because I've only had the flu once.

    On another BB at school (maybe she reads this bb too!) I was told that I may have gotten the virus, brushed it off without getting sick and infected other people without realizing it. Her arguement was if I didn't do it for myself think of my patients and coworkers and do it for them.

    Made me wonder how many people I might have infected all these years and am I selfish.

    Is there any documentation of this?

    I already acknowledge that the CDC recommends all health care providers get the flu shot. I didn't realize it was so we don't infect others and perhaps I should change my thinking.
    Of course I am not a nurse, but never heard this either.

    I personally don't think it is a selfish act myself.

    It may be a "delicate" subject as I am an sure both far sides are interesting and have a point.

    Anyhow, I am curious to find out too.
  4. by   SharonH, RN
    I think it is only selfish if you have flu symptoms and go to work anyway. Typically you are only infectious after you have the symptoms although I think you can be infectious the day before you show any symptoms. It is unlikely that you have infected a lot of people over the years unless you cough and sneeze on people and do not wash your hands. I think your fellow student is blowing your refusal to get a flu shot out of proportion. But then again, maybe I'm not the one to ask because I refuse to get it either.


    I would also like to add that I have not had a cold or the flu in years because I am a fiend about washing my hands and avoiding sick people. The one time I got the flu shot, I got the flu anyway, twice in one year. I see people all the time, including other nurses, sneezing into their hands or into crowds, and they just walk on. Yet people become almost fanatical about the flu shot. Let's start with the basics people.
    Last edit by SharonH, RN on Oct 10, '05
  5. by   llg
    I am not an infection control expert ... but have always been taught that the PRIMARY reason for the push to get people to get flu shots is to minimize its prevalence within the community in general. The less virus that is being spread around in general, the fewer people who will get it. I was always taught that you get the flu shot not just for yourself (who might be young and strong and unlikely to have serious consequences from the flu virus) ... but for the many people to whom you might inadvertantly spread it to (either directly from you to them ... or from you to someone else, to someone else, etc.)

    Based on that rationale, which seems like good common sense to me, I have always gotten a flu shot and urge everyone who can do so to get one. The life you save is probably important to someone.

    However, I can't quote you a citation that documents the incidence of that sort of transmission. I doubt that such a citation exists because it would be almost impossible to conduct that sort of research. I mean, if a person with an URI doesn't get incredibly sick and doesn't go to the doctor ... how could you track who they might come into contact with ... and who they might infect ... and who that person might infect ... and who that person might infect, etc.

    But it makes common sense to try to keep the "total viral load" within the community down as low as possible.

    llg
    Last edit by llg on Oct 10, '05
  6. by   SharonH, RN
    Tweety, here is some info from the CDC about influenza:


    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/



    Influenza viruses are spread from person to person primarily through the coughing and sneezing of infected persons. The typical incubation period for influenza is 1–4 days, with an average of 2 days. Adults can be infectious from the day before symptoms begin through approximately 5 days after illness onset. ... Severely immunocompromised persons can shed virus for weeks or months.

    Back to what I wrote about not going to work when you are sick. Last year, one of my co-workers came to work dripping with the flu, I mean she was dripping. We begged her to go home, my supervisor told her she would even pay her for the whole day but nooooo she felt guilty for leaving us there without additional help which is ridiculous because one person could handle the clinic most days. But that goes to show how people prioritize, there's some perverse pride in coming to work no matter what, that's supposed to be work ethic although you are exposing your co-workers to disease. Also, I work in employee health and you would not believe how sick most people go to work because they don't want to waste their vacation days on being sick so to heck with everyone else's health. I wish there would be as much education about not spreading the flu virus by good handwashing and staying home when sick as we get about the flu shot but the pharmaceutical companies would probably have a fit.
    Last edit by SharonH, RN on Oct 10, '05
  7. by   jacob1
    Our hospital is giving us the flu shots also but i dont know if i should get it, i didnt last year and did not get sick.....but i do have a 4yr old and i dont want him to catch it, but i hear you get sick with the shot anyway?.?.? I dont know??
  8. by   SouthernLPN2RN
    I always get mine, but that's selfish on my part because I HATE being sick.
  9. by   Princess74
    I have taken a flu shot every year, except for last year when we had the shortage and I could not recieve one. I have never had any reaction from the shots,(other than redness on my arm for a day or two) in fact the years that I took one I didn't even catch a cold let alone the flu. Last year when I didn't get the shot I had bronchitis (sp?) twice and I've already had it once this season. I plan to get the shot again this year, and soon!
    As far as not taking the shot and be a carrier, I would think that it would be just like any other illness. You have the carriers and you have those who develop symptons. If I did not take the shot would I worry about spreading the germs to others? Yes, of course I would. I don't want to get the people that I love sick. Or anyone else for that matter.

    Heres to hoping none of us end up with that nasty flu
  10. by   Tweety
    Quote from SharonH, RN
    Tweety, here is some info from the CDC about influenza:


    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/



    [i]Influenza viruses are spread from person to person primarily through the coughing and sneezing of infected persons. The typical incubation period for influenza is 1–4 days, with an average of 2 days. Adults can be infectious from the day before symptoms begin through approximately 5 days after illness onset. ... Severely immunocompromised persons can shed virus for weeks or months.

    I guess what bothers me most is that she hinted I may be asymptomatic and still spread the virus. As I said I've only had flu like symptoms once or twice in my life. But it's hinted I still may spread it regardless of being sick or not. That's scarey.

    And if that's the case why not immunize everyone.

    Is there such a thing as an asymptomatic carrier. But as Ilg states it would be hard to measure, I mean how to you research asymptomatic persons. Wonder where this person would be getting her information.
  11. by   pricklypear
    Tweety - I'm by no means an expert on infectious disease, but, to my limited knowledge, I have NEVER heard of anyone being a carrier of the Flu virus, without being symptomatic. I think some people get carried away with self-righteousness. Think about it: If you're exposed to the flu, your body either destroys it on sight because it is immune to that particular strain, or it infects you. If it's destroyed, there is no virus to spread. If it infects you, you WILL have symptoms.

    On the subject of the shot - I have never gotten one, and don't plan to. The flu vaccine is a lottery. Experts predict which particular strain may be the most common in any given year, and produce a vaccine for that strain. There have been years that they have been way off base (though I admit I can't remember where I read that). At best, it may give people a slight edge, better odds if the strain they are vaccinated against is actually the strain in their community that year. Nobody can tell how many people could have been infected if they weren't vaccinated. Who's to say it has made an impact at all? Flu is fickle. 6 years ago, my son came home with it. I came down with it 2 weeks later. My other 2 kids and husband didn't get it. None of them were vaccinated, or had ever had flu before.

    With the shortage of vaccine that we usually see, I'm all for at risk people receiving it. Meaning people who may die if they come down with flu. Think of all the elderly, and at risk people who weren't able to receive it last year because thousands had already been given to healthly health care workers.

    I think the person you who told you pulled that information out of the dark cavities of her own behind. She has her opinion, which, of course, is the only one with any validity, and is enjoying making you feel guilty for something.

    disclaimer: The preceeding post is my own personal opinion.
  12. by   Spidey's mom
    No.




    steph
  13. by   Annor
    I always get a flu shot...except for last winter...none to be found.

    I hope I can get one this year

    Annor
  14. by   queenbeelws
    I don't believe its selfish at all. There are MANY strains of the flu virus so even if you get the vaccine, you may become deathly ill with another strain. I think our best defense is to take the usual good health precautions and let our immune system will do the rest. I used to take the shot all the time and I still got sick. I haven't taken it in several years now and haven't been sick since. Maybe its coincidential or maybe I'm just taking better care of myself now. Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

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