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Flu shot dilema
Inge Posted at 2010/11/22 10:34pm reply to

Inge
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So, since Im working in a hospital now, we have to have flu shots.  The only exception is if you are allergic to eggs or for religious and ethical reasons.  

Ive been researching the flu shot, and the vaccine is grown in eggs.  Now the idea of having something that was grown in a chicken embrio injected into my body really creeps me out.  

Since becoming vegan 5 years ago, I have not been sick at all (except for the odd bout of allergies).  I will much rather wear the mask that will be required if I dont get the shot.

What are y'alls thoughts on geting the flu shot?
weigand Posted at 2010/11/22 10:58pm reply to

weigand
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I generally get the flu shot every year. On balance, I consider it to be more vegan than not getting it.

As a hospital worker, I think you're going to get bombarded by germs all the time. You will likely get it without the vaccine. Vegans aren't immune.

And masks? They don't protect you from the flu. They're given to people who have the flu already only so that when they talk and breathe, they don't end up spitting on people and surfaces. It's mostly useless, though. Masks won't filter the air of the flu virus. The flu virus goes right through them. That's a misconception people have of them. If you're being forced to wear one just because you didn't take the vaccine, it's not for medically sound reasons, I don't think. It's because they want to intimidate you into getting the vaccine. My opinion.

The question is: What are the consequences of getting the vaccine vs. the consequences of not getting it? Keep in mind that when you get the flu, you may be forced to buy non-vegan medications and products. And you yourself would become a carrier and will likely infect other people. That's how the flu works.

That's how I look at it. I think getting the flu shot is more vegan than the consequences of not getting it. We can never know if we're going to get the flu, but given my track record, I assume I will always get the flu once a year. Being a hospital worker, you have to assume you're going to get the flu.

Interestingly, though, a company has just started to develop a synthetic medium for growing large quantities of the flu vaccine instead of using eggs. But it's going to be years before it hits the market, I bet. There's definitely a market for it, though. Using eggs is very worrisome, because it could contain all kinds of impurities such as salmonella bacteria.

- Steve
Michaela Posted at 2010/11/22 11:01pm reply to

Michaela
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My boyfriend works in a hospital and he was told he had to take it, so he did. His views aren't quite the same as mine when it comes to that sort of thing, but I for one am pretty grossed out. I thought we were more technologically advanced than that!
weigand Posted at 2010/11/22 11:15pm reply to

weigand
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By the way, I don't think I emphasized this enough. If you don't get the vaccine, and you end up getting the flu, you will almost certainly transmit it to others. You may not take non-vegan medications for it, but they will. Not to mention the suffering they'll have to endure. And each of those people will infect several others, and they'll each infect several others. And so on. Your infection could lead to hundreds if not thousands of people getting it.

So again, on balance I'd say it's more vegan to get the shot than not to get it.

Veganism doesn't have to be impractical. We have similar dilemmas when we decide what to do when, say, ants infest our homes. Is it more vegan to just let the ants multiply out of control than to get an exterminator to come kill them? No, because eventually the ants will get so out of control that you'll have to get an exterminator. And by then, you'll be killing maybe millions of them. It's better to call the exterminator immediately as soon as you see ants rather than waiting to see if they go away on their own. Kill 100 of them now rather than having to kill millions of them later. It sucks you have to kill any of them, but think of the consequences and decide which outcome is more vegan.

- Steve
Ross Posted at 2010/11/22 11:28pm reply to

Ross
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Wait- Steve, you get the flu usually once a year but also get the vaccine every year?
jen Posted at 2010/11/23 9:31am reply to

jen
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well, i should start out by saying i might feel very differently if i worked in a hospital, but they wanted me to get a flu shot since i'm pregnant and i graciously declined.  i don't even know if it had much to do with vegan ethics as much as i feel like it's the freaking flu and it's probably healthy for our bodies to get it once in awhile.  maybe not so much when pregnant, but i'm more scared of how this vaccine, that i probably won't need, might affect the baby.

ok...now to flip the switch, while the overall affect of vaccines generally scare me, i will have the baby vaccinated for polio, small pox and all that stuff after birth.  i feel like if you don't you're relying on the fact that other people will be vaccinated to protect you and that really just isn't fair.  i'll probably draw the line at chicken pox and flu shots and all that stuff that can't kill you if you're a normal healthy child or adult with a normal healthy immune system and only get the vaccines that are necessary to prevent real problems and possibly death.

Daniela Posted at 2010/11/23 10:10am reply to

Daniela
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If you work in a hospital, get a flu shot. You aren't just protecting yourself, you're protecting your patients. End of story.
weigand Posted at 2010/11/23 12:47pm reply to

weigand
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Ross... I get the flu probably once a year nowadays, yes. If I'm lucky I can avoid it for a year. I find the vaccine also lessens the impact of a flu if I get one.

This year I didn't get the vaccine in time and wound up getting back-to-back flues within 2-3 weeks of each other. One flu got me and then just as I was getting back to normal, another one got me. Two! And it left me with a nagging nighttime cough that lasted over 6 weeks. I couldn't even get to sleep, because it kept me awake at night coughing. It was some serious bad stuff. I hardly ever feel anything as bad as that.

The problem is that there isn't just one flu virus out there.  There are potentially several. The flu vaccine is made earlier in the year before the flu has had a chance to mutate and break off into more strains. It may only vaccinate against 3 strains, but by the time you get the vaccine, there may be 4 or 5 strains out there.

The argument that it's useless getting the flu vaccine because of that reason is flawed, however. You can still get vaccinated against the earlier flu strains which are still around by the time you get vaccinated. Being vaccinated against 3 out of 4 strains ain't bad. And the older a strain is, the more likely you are to get it. Also, while a vaccine may not target a new strain, it's often the case that it helps to fight against it and can lessen its impact.

As for the science of vaccines, it's conclusive. The flu vaccine not only saves people a lot of suffering, it prevents death.

Getting the flu is not good for our bodies ("what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger" ) . Sure, if you manage to get a full-blown flu illness, you'll probably be immune to that virus and more of its strains a lot longer than if you had taken the flu vaccine instead. Maybe. But because it mutates so often, the long-term advantages of allowing yourself to become ill are negligible compared with the short-term negative consequences.

- Steve
Inge Posted at 2010/11/23 9:34pm reply to

Inge
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I dont directly work with patients.  Im a dietary aid that works in the kitchen and assists in the planning and cooking of appropriate meals for patients with certain dietary restrictions and illnesses (that there is a whole new can of worms, since I know 2/3's of those illnesses were caused by their eating habbits)

I had a flu shot before and ended up getting so sick that I missed almost a week of work. I agree with the reasoning that it is my responsibility to not spread the flu to patients, but I feel that since I work indirectly with them, and that having the shot still does not guarantee me spreading the virus, I would much rather not have the shot. We take extreme precautions (gloves, sanitation buckets, antibacterial sprays, hats, HAACP) to prevent any kind of cross contamination.

Craig? Posted at 2010/11/23 9:51pm reply to

Craig?
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I never get the flu shot, but ethics really never come into the equation.  I really just like getting sick and missing work.  Lets me catch up on my stories.
weigand Posted at 2010/11/24 1:35am reply to

weigand
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Craig is a bit "different" isn't he? Haha! Hmmm.

- Steve
peter Posted at 2010/11/24 9:36am reply to

peter
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I don't think "different" even begins to describe it.  It may have had something to do with the Noodle Incident years ago.


(Bonus points to anybody that gets the reference.)
Craig? Posted at 2010/11/24 10:32am reply to

Craig?
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That wasn't a story! That was the unvarnished truth!
peter Posted at 2010/11/24 11:44am reply to

peter
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excited
MainstreamVegan Posted at 2010/11/28 11:12pm reply to

MainstreamVegan
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I am vegan, allergic to eggs and I still get the flu shot. Apparently a food allergy is not technically an "allergy," in the sense that I do not break out in hives/have difficulty breathing when I eat eggs.
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