Flu fears may decrease vaccinations for 2010

In 2009, virtually everyone was looking for a way to get a flu vaccine. Specifically the H1N1(swine flu) vaccine which had seen very little

testing at the time, but fear of an outbreak of pandemic proportions had the country in panic mode. Thankfully, there was no pandemic and even though there were deaths
from the disease–an estimated 12,000 in the U.S.–the numbers were much smaller than anticipated. Despite throngs of people waiting hours for a vaccine, there are still thousands who did not. Fearing side effects from flu vaccines, or a long standing history of reactions after vaccination can make entire families afraid of the needle for more than one reason.

Flu, also called influenza is a highly contagious, and deadly respiratory disease that effects hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. alone every year. The disease, which typically runs from November through mid April is characterized by high fever, fatigue, muscle aches and cough. Flu is most dangerous for vulnerable populations–such as the very young or the very old, or those with chronic health conditions. Each year’s flu vaccine is created based on the most common strains seen from the year before. For 2010 the flu vaccine is being marketed as a three-in-one vaccine and will include protection from the H1N1, H2N3 and Influenza B viruses. This year the vaccine is available by intranasal mist or traditional injection, and there is a new Fluzone High-Dose that will an option for those age 65 and older.

Despite the many options and strong encouragement of government health officials to obtain a vaccination there are still many who will not be standing in line this year. According to a Consumer Reports survey, it is estimated that nearly 30% of all Americans will not get a flu shot, and another 40% said that they were concerned about side effects from the vaccine.

Many people complain of mild side effects after vaccination that can include everything from fatigue and body aches to just a general feeling of not being well. On the other end of the spectrum, are those who have suffered life-threatening or life-altering illness after the shot. Diseases that effect the immune system have been known to occur following vaccination including Guillian Barre Syndrome, brachial neuritis, and other conditions that cause a breakdown of the nerves in various parts of the body–specifically the legs, feet and shoulders–but can occur throughout the body. Conditions like these can be temporary or even permanent and result in loss of feeling, paralysis and permanent weakness or loss of use of the effect body part(s).

For children, other symptoms have occurred following flu vaccination. For children who are receiving a vaccine for the first time (those older than 6 months) there may be noticeable symptoms. Fever, malaise and fatigue may be seen as general symptoms, but more significant problems have been reported only to be swept under the rug by health officials. Parents around the world have reported conditions like narcolepsy, thrombocytopenia, and Bell’s palsy in their children that occurred in the weeks following vaccination.

The decision to get a flu vaccine is completely independent. Health officials do not typically talk about all the side effects that have changed people’s lives–simply dismissing them as “coincidence.” When in fact, for those who have suffered from one of these conditions, it is very clearly not a chance happening.

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