Posted by: fireweaver | November 2, 2009

flu shots – usually, a good idea.

by now, everyone’s pretty much given up on the h1n1 freak-out (though i did see a couple of clever swine flu costumes saturday).  don’t forget, though, it’s about that time for your regular seasonal flu shot.

the occ health physican’s crew was in the office today giving us our flu vaccines.  you had to sign up before hand if you wanted one, and let them know whether  you wanted shot or mist.  in case anyone’s unclear on the concept, let me explain flu vaxx:

regular ol’ flu shot is a KILLED vaccine made of virus particles that were previously grown in chicken or duck eggs.  because the viruses are all killed, it’s not possible to actually get the flu from the vaccine.  because this stuff is supposed to trigger your immune system, it’s completely normal to feel tired and possibly even achy for 24h or so.  if you’ve ever felt more than transiently ill, or were sick-ish for a good while after your shot, you were having an inflammatory reaction to the egg that the vaccine was grown in or some other remnant from the manufacturing process: this particular phenomenon is what causes some people to say that they “got the flu from the shot.”

flumist, though, is a LIVE vaccine made of viruses that have been altered so as to not cause serious illness.  you inhale a small amount of this liquid into each nostril, thereby infecting your upper respiratory tract with this mild version of the virus.  the theory is that this induces a type of immunity that is far more protective than the shot, since the antibodies you make will be right there in your mucous membranes blocking flu entry, instead of floating in your blood stream.  obviously, though, because it’s a live virus (attenuated or not), there are more restrictions on who should recieve it.  you can’t give it to people with weak immune systems, for example.

i can’t personally deal with the regular flu shot – i had a bad reaction to one a decade or so ago, and have avoided it ever since.  the mist, tho, i’ve had no problems with for the past sevaral years.  i was sick about 2 weeks ago, and had juuuuust gotten over it completely in the past couple of days.

so it’s of course just my luck/no wonder at all that tonight, i’ve sprung some post-nasal drip.  (eta: and the following day, too!  fun!)

alrighty, little transient infection.  your work here is complete, time to move on and out.



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