I've mentioned before that I work in a medical institution and just the other day my institution sent out an e-mail stating the following:
On August 6, 2009, New York State passed legislation requiring hospitals to immunize all personnel against influenza (“the flu”) if they provide direct patient care or work in a patient care area. The law was effective immediately and hospitals must provide complete flu vaccination by November 30, 2009. Hospitals must provide documentation of vaccination of each and every person in our hospital who provides direct patient care or works in a patient care area.
Fortunately I do not provide direct patient care and therefore do not feel obligated to get the shot. It is available to me free of charge, but I think I am going to pass on the shot again this year. I have never needed or offered up my arm to flu shots in the past and the possibility of acquiring an influenza virus is hardly enough to risk the albeit "rare" (so says the CDC) chances of...drumroll, please...
- life threatening allergic reaction
- Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an illness characterized by fever, nerve damage, and muscle weakness
- bodily aches
- possible acute pharyngitis
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- ...and whatever other side effects we may not be aware of
Sadly, it has been shown that the one group who could benefit most from the shot, the elderly, have the lowest rates of efficacy (see PMID: 18997178 and 11906772 for example).
Finally, I think it's important to remind everyone that this seasons shots will not protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus...aka, Swine Flu...which seems to be a large catalyst for drawing people towards this season's shot (or so, I have heard from friends as well as in passing).
Fortunately for me, if everyone else gets the shot, my risk of catching the virus is diminished (if it works). So, thank you to all who are taking this bullet for me.
Here's to your health!