Flu Shot Or Not?

By Stan Vashovsky, Ambulnz CEO

Cold weather, stuffy noses, and “working from home” emails are the first signs, flu season is here. So, the great debate begins, do you get a flu shot or not? The majority of the medical community agrees, you should get a flu shot once a year. According to the CDC, “The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. The reason for this is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” or best protection against the flu.”

However, not all medical professionals feel it’s necessary. In an article published by Everyday Health, James Wilde, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Georgia Regents Health System in Augusta who has spent much of his career dealing with flu and prevention says, “Personally, I am not a big fan of the flu vaccine, I don’t think the flu vaccine is a bad thing, but I do believe it’s only necessary for high risk populations. I don’t agree with the national authorities that say everyone should get a flu vaccine.”

Okay, are flu shots worth the needle prick or not?

In an article published by the National Vaccine Information Center, a surprising admission was made by the CDC, “In January 2016, U.S. government officials finally publicly admitted that flu vaccines are only 50 to 60 percent effective at preventing lab confirmed influenza requiring medical care in most years. In fact, a CDC analysis of flu vaccine effectiveness for the past decade – from 2005 to 2015 - demonstrated that more than half the time, seasonal flu shots are less than 50 percent effective!” 1

Are you confused? Me too. What do people in the EMS community think?

EMS1.com published an article stating, “A survey conducted in upstate New York found the rate of vaccination against influenza was significantly lower for EMS personnel (21 percent) compared to emergency department personnel (65 percent) serving the same community. This is despite the fact that 71 percent of the EMS personnel believed the very nature of emergency work exposes the provider to potential influenza infection and 62 percent were concerned about becoming infected at work and transmitted the virus to their own family members.”

So, the CDC says it fails half the time, but recommends it for every American. Doctors recommend it, but not all of them get it themselves. If there was an ad for flu vaccinations, it might sound something like this,

“Worried about getting the flu? Get vaccinated… it’s worth a shot.”

I should say, personally, I’ve gotten my flu shots, but I experience very bad reactions to them when I do. However, my wife and three children get their shots every year with zero bad reactions.

In 2015, CNBC published an article that exposed a different kind of epidemic that comes with flu season, “That time of year is upon us, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said manufacturers are distributing more flu vaccine in the U.S. than ever: a projected 171 million to 179 million doses this year.

That's up from 147.8 million distributed last year, amounting to $1.61 billion in revenue, according to industry researcher IMS Health. Globally, manufacturer CSL estimates the market for influenza vaccines at $4 billion. 2

At the end of the day, it’s ultimately your decision, whether you decided to vaccinate yourself or not. I personally believe flu shots are worth the one second of pain. Even a small percentage of people fighting off the flu is better than zero. I also feel like our money is better spent on the health sector than it is on the defense sector.

1 https://www.nvic.org/nvic-vaccine-news/april-2016/cdc-admits-flu-shots-fail-half-the-time.aspx

 2 https://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/19/the-16-billion-business-of-flu.html