START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Should You Get a Flu Shot? The Complete Guide

  • 1 of 6
Should You Get a Flu Shot? The Complete Guide

It’s that time again. Flu season is upon us, and everywhere we turn — from the family doctor’s office to the nightly news — we are reminded to get our flu shot.

It couldn’t be easier: You can get an influenza vaccine at your favorite neighborhood pharmacy, right along with your toothpaste and shampoo, or at a makeshift stand at the grocery store. At more and more businesses, employees can get one just down the hall from their desks.

During the 2010–2011 influenza season, about half of all children and 41 percent of American adults received flu shots. And health officials are pushing for more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the annual flu vaccine,” says Joseph Bresee, MD, chief of the Epidemiology Prevention Branch at the CDC’s Influenza Division.

Not all experts agree with this advice, though. An increasing number of researchers, academics and doctors are questioning the scientific basis for an influenza vaccine at all. Some point out that the influenza virus isn’t the cause of most flu-like illness, diminishing the advantage that widespread vaccination confers. Others argue that flu shots don’t work well for the most vulnerable among us, including the elderly, because their immune systems are too weak to respond. The most vocal critics even point to studies showing the influenza vaccine is no better than a placebo.

There’s also a safety concern, since many influenza vaccinations contain toxins such as thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury that was removed from most (but not all) children’s vaccines more than a decade ago.

The rising furor over the influenza vaccine differs from the controversy over most other vaccines because the central argument is not over the risk but rather if it works at all. Defenders insist that widespread vaccination will confer a herd immunity to the general population, protecting the weakest among us, who might actually succumb to influenza if exposed. They say that manufacturing an influenza vaccine year after year keeps the factories primed for the dreaded day a more virulent strain threatens a true pandemic, like the one that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans in 1918. But skeptics label such benefits hypothetical at best, and argue that even the smallest risk or side effect is unacceptable.


Next: Where did influenza come from?

  • 1 of 6

Read more: Cold and Flu, Conditions, Drugs, General Health, Health, Health & Safety, Healthy Aging, , , , , , , , ,

By Pamela Weintraub, Experience Life

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Molly, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


+ add your own
11:18PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

I know that the trend nowadays is to be highly suspicious of all types of shots, but for years I have had to have a compulsory 'fluvax' as I was a health care provider and we ALL had to have them. To be honest I now really am so glad that I DO have them, as instead of nearly dying every time I caught the REAL 'flu and even gettng pheumonia, I haven't had the 'flu once since having the vaccination... which is about twenty years ago now. Nearly everyone I know that doesn't catch the 'flu have had their shots and I don't know anyone who has had a bad reaction from it, exceppt one or two who have felt a bit tired and one of my Care 2 friends said that it GAVE her the real 'flu. I honestly so nearly DIED with the 'flu the last time I came down with it and got pneumonia..that I am going to keep on having the shots.. I never EVER want to feel that ill again!!!

3:56PM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

6:18PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

What we put into our body contributes greatly to the state of the immune system. Choosing wisely when it comes to eating is a key factor to maintaining a healthy immune system.

If a food is fresh and comes from the Earth, it is food that God made. Food that is man made, from a box, plastic pouch or wrapper and has a long list of added ingredients is not designed to aid your body in becoming and staying healthy. Man made foods simply cannot replace fresh whole foods when it comes to nutrition and often only serve as empty calories along with hazardous by-products. Try to eat alkaline foods to help build a strong immune system. Foods that are acidic (the opposite of alkaline) contribute to an acidic PH of the body that creates conditions vulnerable to toxicity, disease, fatigue and illness.
Some Examples Of Foods That Build The Immune System And Why:

Carrots & Sweet Potatoes - They contain beta-carotene a phytonutrient that increases production of T-cells.

Garlic - Is loaded in compounds that contain sulfur which wards off disease and infection.

Spinach - It's super high in antioxidants that boost the immune system.

Kiwi & Oranges - High in Vitamin C which protects against infection.

Salmon - Among the many benefits of this "Superfood", Omega 3 fatty acids in salmon aid the body to fight infection.

Did you know?

Sugar attacks the Immune System almost immediately making it vulnerable to sickness and disease.

Reduce or eliminate the amount of s

1:45PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012


1:37PM PDT on Oct 10, 2012

Anything that breaks down the immune system is not good.

4:14PM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

I am at the age where I am supposed to get a flu shot- haven't gotten one yet, but I get the flu every 2-3 years- thanks for the article- I am still trying to decide.....

1:08PM PDT on Oct 9, 2012


11:00AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012


8:31AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

great article, thank you.

7:09AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

I am 34 years old and have never gotten a flu shot. Sure, I get sick sometimes, but I don't feel I'm at risk from dying from the flu. I've never been that sick. So, I'd just rather take my chances with my immune system.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

That's beer abuse!

Yeah. It's not about the planet as such, more about living species and ecosystems they depend on. …

Thank you for sharing. I have a hard time eating protein at breakfast.


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!