Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Good Are Flu Shots?

Me before flu shots - April 1977 - no bad colds

This is Week Two of my cold.  After a telephone conversation with a guest who was making a hotel reservation tonight at the hotel, I have determined that I have the flu.  She also has the flu.  Has had it for the past two weeks and just wants to get away from her New Jersey home to the sunshine to our sunny little town of Lewes on the East coast of Delaware.

She said this is a new strain of flu that LASTS THREE WEEKS!  She described all the symptoms:

  • Begins with a sore throat
  • Moves to the sinuses
  • Then a dry cough
  • Achy body
  • Exhaustion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
Those symptoms are the same symptoms I have!

My whole past history of getting colds is that they last two to three days.  I never get colds in my sinuses.  I almost always get chest congestion.  I know how my colds work.  This one is different.  I've never had a "cold" like this before.

Up until a few years ago I never got a flu shot.  Last year I got a flu shot.  I had the WORST COLD in my lifetime last year.  I thought I was dying.  For the first time in my life I had to go to a doctor because I feared that I would not recover.  I was afraid to go to sleep because I couldn't breath.  It was a good thing I went to the doctor because she said one of my lungs was full and the other was filling up.  I was a few days away from Walking Pneumonia.  Even though I felt like dying, that's how miserable I was, I survived after taking the antibiotics that my doctor prescribed.

So this year comes along and all the bombarding notices come out about "GET YOUR FLU SHOT!"  So I got my flu shot at the VA Outpatient Clinic.  A month goes by.  Last week at this time I wake up with a slight sore throat.  Uh oh.  "Cold coming on Ron!"  

I thoroughly expected this to be another typical "Ron Cold."  I was wrong.  Oh boy was I ever wrong.

I struggled through work at the hotel on Wednesday and Thursday with my cold.  I looked forward to the weekend so I could recover.  Lots of rest and sleep which I did.  Then I get a call from my manager at the hotel.  "Could I come into work this week on Monday and Tuesday in addition to my regular Wednesday and Thursday shift?"  Of course I couldn't say "No."  I got through last night and I'll get through tonight, tomorrow night and Thursday night.  Hopefully by then my "cold" will be gone.  

My question is, what good is it for me to get a flu shot?  For the past two years, in spite of my flu shot, I've had the worst "colds" in my lifetime.  Either this is a new strain of flu or else I'm getting the flu by the flu shot.  

Next year I'm going to bypass the flu shot.  I bet I don't get a cold.  In the meantime I'm hitting the sack again until I have to go into work this afternoon.  


  1. Anonymous10:25 AM

    Hi Ron,

    Sorry you aren't feeling well. I did hear on the radio a few weeks ago that there are a couple strains of flu this year that aren't covered by the flu shots. I choose not to take the shot even though it doesn't make my dr. very happy. I rarely get a cold(watch me come down with one now).

    I was glad to hear on a prior post that you are possibly considering getting a pom. I wouldn't wait because you will be missing out on a lot of fun & love. My son knows of a women that has been raising poms for years. She doesn't live that far from Lewes. Let me know if you would like her number.

    Keep on keeping on & I hope you get well soon!


  2. The one time I got the flu shot years ago I got so sick I thought I was going to die. I'm 60 now and have never gotten the flu ever since. I hope you feel better soon.

  3. Fran,

    I don't think I'm going to get a flu shot next year. Every year I get them, I still get sick. Before I had flu shot I rarely got sick and when I did it was of show duration. I think the flu shots are overrated. And I did hear that this year's flu shots didn't cover these new strains. That's what the woman told me on the phone last night. This is definitely a new strain because I've never had a cold like this before.

    I will definitely contact you when I'm ready to get a pom. I will be looking for one who weighs no more than six pounds, preferably less. Thanks for the advice.

  4. Stan,

    This is probably my last year for flu shots. I don't see where they do me any good. Thanks for your comment.

  5. I haven't had a flu jab for about 15 years, which was also (co-inicidentally?) the last time I got the flu, or even a heavy cold. My doctor says my 'luck' in avoiding it is due to living a socially isolated life, giving the virus no sustained opportunity to get into my system. But he still recommends the jab, though I'm not taking it up 'cos I know that when I do I'll be going down. Bet when it eventually comes it's going to be a HUGE attack (I hesitate to use the word 'killer' for obvious reasons.)
    I do hope your own inconvenience and suffering is quickly behind you. Of course it's no 'fun' at all - and negatively affects absolutely EVERYTHING one does! I'll be very interested to know how your next shot-less Winter goes.

    Btw: That's a really 'hottie' shot of you back in '77 - but I reckon the sight of that pick-axe had any cruisers running away pell-mell!

  6. Ron,

    Think about all the folks you see at the front desk. If a flu shot will help prevent you from getting the particular strain that they have, you have reduced your odds somewhat. Having said that, I don't think that anything works as well for cold and flu prevention as frequent hand washing with soap and water, adequate rest and good hydration and nutrition.

  7. Ron,

    I got a flu shot in, oh I don't know, late 1960s? Of course, I got the flu. I haven't had one since and have no plans to do so in the future. Every year or so you hear there is a new strain. I'll take my chances.


  8. Ray,

    I rarely got bad colds before I started getting flu shots. I only started getting the flu shots because they were more available. When I did get a cold in the past it was of short duration. Now when I get a "cold" I'm really thrown for a loop. I just don't see what the flu shot is stopping. Next year I am not getting a flu shot. Taking my chances. About the 70's picture - as you know I'm in the process of scanning all my old photos and negatives into my computer. I'm afraid that once I'm gone someone will throw my old photos out. I guess it is vanity on my part but I have so many photos, many of which I haven't seen in over thirty years. The one posted on this blog is one of them. I like to post photos on my blog and in the past I've searched the Internet for generic photos that may apply to my blog posting but I've found that I have so many of my old photos, I'll just post them. In this photo I wasn't posing on purpose with the pick ax, I was holding it because Bill and I were breaking compacted dirt off of roots of trees. But it did make for a pretty good "message" photo didn't i?

  9. Will J.,

    I'm not as exposed to catching the flue virus working the front desk at this hotel as I was at my previous hotel. We're in the off season now and very few guests are in the hotel. Still, I could catch the virus. You are right though that nothing is better than preventing catching the flu virus than frequent washing of the hands, adequate rest and good nutrition. I was doing well with the rest and nutrition part until I was called into work again this week. I think this is delaying my recovery. Only two more nights to go then I get a LOT of rest.

  10. Ray,

    Looking at this 34 year old pictures I realize I STILL have that shirt (in good condition) but I did get rid of the bell bottom pants. I don't do plaid anymore though. This reminds me that I have to make a deposit at the thrift store.

  11. anne marie in philly7:16 PM

    I get a flu shot every year due to my chronic asthma. have NEVER had the flu. do get colds, but I can live with that; matter of fact, coming out of a cold as I type this. having beat cancer, I can survive anything!

  12. get the flu shot.

  13. I think the key is to know your body. I don't get the flu or colds but I am prone to lung things like bronchitis and pneumonia. So I don't/won't get the shot. My mom is the same way but my sister and her family seem to get every flu and stomach virus.

    Flus are virus based, have fevers and usually respond to antibios'. Colds are bacteria based, don't cause fevers and antibio's don't work - you can just get OTC's to help with the discomfort.

    Flu shots will give many slight flu symptoms after taking it as the body builds antibodies. Because they have to make the shot so far in advance, they use educated guesses as to what strains to protect against. The goal is to prevent the flu but even if you get it, it should be more mild because you have some resistance.

  14. Opps...feel better soon.

  15. Sean,

    All good information. Some I didn't know. Thanks.

  16. Dr. Spo,

    You know I always value your advice. I will probably continue to take my flu shots. You sealed it. Thanks.


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