Monday, December 21

Pundita PSA: Why you may feel sick after getting a flu shot but get the blasted shot

  • About 30 percent of those who get the vaccine may get symptoms
  • It’s an immune response - not the flu itself
  • The flu is a very serious illness; it’s worth getting vaccinated
That's from the Sacramento Bee's helpful article on the flu shot. As the reporter points out, it's impossible to get sick from the shot itself -- unless one is allergic to eggs. But the flu bug that's injected is deader than a doornail. The flu shot is like giving a kitten a toy mouse to play with. Nobody dies but it keeps the kitten's instincts on their toes. Same with the immune system. It gets to thump its chest at an invader. We're so clean these days the immune system doesn't get a lot of exercise.  

And if you're one of those people who get cold symptoms for a few days after the shot -- rejoice; that indicates your immune system is very healthy. A bit hyper, but healthy. And better than getting deathly ill from the real thing.

However, I would suggest that you make sure the alcohol that's swabbed on your arm is dry before the needle is plunged in. It takes about 30 seconds, and sometimes the nurse or pharma person doesn't wait. Your arm is probably pretty clean if you shower and change your shirt every day but if you want the site sterile, the alcohol msut have those seconds to do its work. The evaporation process is what removes the bacteria.  

Don't be afraid to speak up, even if the needle jabber rolls his eyes. Tell 'em to wait for the whole 30 seconds. I actually insist on 45 seconds.  And I don't take any chances. I carry a bottle of 90 percent alcohol with me and slosh some on my arm while I'm waiting for the jabber to show up. THEN I complain if they don't wait for the swab they use to dry.

Does it really make a difference?  I reason that it's possible some reactions to the flu shot might be due an unsterile jab site.  

After all, you're getting stabbed. If your arm is dirty or the clothing on the arm isn't sterile, then some of that could get into your blood stream. Couldn't it? 

Might make a difference especially with children, who are not notoriously clean, getting the shot.  

And keep an eye on the jabber's gloves and how they put on the bandage. If the gloves have touched something else and touch your jab site while they're putting on the bandage, rip the bandage off and slosh on more alcohol.  And of course you're carrying your own bandage, right?

One more point. It's no longer an excuse if you're over 65. They make a souped up version of the shot for older people.  


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