*Updated* My thoughts on the flu shot

Flu season is upon us and the calls from the doctors office have started. Are we getting the flu shot this year? In a simple answer, “No”. Why? Well, I have yet to be persuaded that it’s beneficial for us. While the doctors and media tend to hype the dangers of the flu, to the point of telling parents their child could die if they don’t receive the shot, research shows it’s not as scary as one might think. Yes, it is inconvenient to be feverish and achy for a week, but what are the side effects?

A commercial that has started recently claims (as most flu shot proponents do) that the flu kills over 36,000 people a year. But is that true, and how many of those are children?

The fact is, the 36,000 people a year statistic include both influenza and pneumonia combined. In 2004 the American Lung Association published a paper that detailed flu deaths alone. The total was about 1500 deaths that year. In children and adults under 34 years old the total was only about 100, with the remaining 90% of the deaths attributed to elderly folks. The 2007-2008 flu season took about 65 children ages 1-18 and the three years prior took between 46 and 75 kids.

I’m also quite uncertain about the shot because of the actual ingredients in it. Each flu shot contains mercury (the one ingredient that has been taken out of most other shots due to links to neurological damage) in the amount of about 25 micrograms. There are mercury free versions (well, they contain only a trace amount anyways) available in a single dose syringe, while the full amount mercury shots come from a ten dose vial. The shot also contains amounts of formaldehyde and egg cultures and some contain antibiotics and MSG. (to find which brands contain mercury, check out The Vaccine Book.com)

The shot generally targets only 3 or so strains of the virus, basically whichever ones they think will be the most rampant. Last years shot was only 40 – 50% effective! And on average 10 out of 100 unvaccinated people will contract the flu each year, and depending on effectiveness, there are still people who contract the flu even after receiving the shot (i.e. if the shot is 70% effective, 3 out of 10 people will still get the flu).

While I do understand the fear that comes with sickness, especially for those already ill, I think each person needs to decide for themselves and their families whether or not they should be getting this shot. Our family doctor is great about vaccines and actually told me last year it wasn’t worth getting since we were all so healthy to begin with. But if you have a doctor feeding you the ‘danger hype’, it’s time to find a new doctor that a bit more level headed!

And as far as vaccines go, statistically, this one seems quite low on the side effects. And most peoples bodies seem to do fine dealing with the toxins in it. So if you decide to get the flu shot yourself or for your loved ones, at least get the mercury free version! For us, we’ll remain shot free! The risks involved in the shots currently out way any benefit to us. Well, at least for my preggo self and the kiddo, my husband can make up his own mind though I doubt he’ll get it either. Plus I think there are better and more natural ways to prevent and care for the flu.

**My very specific reasons that won’t be getting the flu shot for me or my 2 yr old.

  • The mercury in the shot bothers me as my son’s neurological system is still developing, and the fact that I am pregnant and growing a baby makes me wary about affecting his/her neurological system as well.
  • I am a stay at home mom and we regularly only venture out once a week to go to church and once a week to grocery shop.
  • My son was breastfed until he was almost 16 months old and has a great immune system.
  • We also eat plenty of probiotics and raw milk. (raw milk has the added benefit of good bacteria in it)
  • The side effects bother me as well. While some people feel no ill effects at all, some have a fever and body aches after the shot. (the bodies reaction to a foreign substance – not the flu) In rare instances people have allergic reactions to the shot (mainly the egg part of it) and there has also been shown to be a slight link to Guillen-Barre syndrome. (This disorder causes your immune system to attack your peripheral nervous system causing paralysis, and sometimes the unablility to breathe. Most people are in the ICU for a few weeks while the symptoms worsen, but luckily most recover fully)
Have you, or will you, get the shot?
About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. I do have my two youngest get the flu shot, because they both have asthma and have been very ill from the flu before. I do not get it for myself.

  2. elizabeth says:

    I get the shot for myself and for my 1 yo son. Not getting the shot not only increases the chances that we will get the flu (with its serious and not-so-serious-but-still-unpleasant side effects), but also increases the chance that we will infect other people. I personally feel (and I know a lot of others disagree, and I don’t mean to be preachy here) that vaccines are part of the social contract. Not getting the vaccine would mean that we would be freeloading off the herd’s immunity– getting the benefit of the risks others took without bearing any of the responsibility for it ourselves. That’s not a lesson I want to teach my son.

    Not only that, but a case of the flu would cost our health insurance company (and therefore everyone who subscribes to it) hundreds–or in the case of a hospitalization– thousands of dollars that could have been saved by a $15 vaccine. Also not a lesson in economics that I’m comfortable with.

    That having been said, I DO get the thimerisol-free shots for him, though the salmon he ate tonight probably had more mercury than the regular shots do. I also space the vaccines out– not that there is any evidence that that helps with anything, but it can’t hurt, and it makes me feel better.

    Like I said, I don’t want to sound judgemental– moms have enough problems without others jumping down their throats– these are just my opinions.

  3. My Dr., not given to scare tactics, suggested the 1 year old get the shot, but not the almost 3 year old. I’m like you, with the boys at home most of the time. We’re really healthy! In fact, I’m dreading taking them in next week for their well baby visits that are due. I don’t want them getting sick from the Dr.’s office!!! I may reschedule for January, now that I’m thinking about it…

  4. You know…if my circumstances were different, say my little one had a chronic health condition or went to daycare or I worked full time again with a bunch of sickly college students, my decision may be different. So I do understand why folks decide to get it. And I think most importantly, each parent needs to be INFORMED. Not just handed a slip of paper AFTER the shot is given, I think the doctor and parent really need to discuss what’s in the best interest of that specific child. Vaccinations just aren’t one size fits all!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. La Mama Naturale' says:

    I’m with you on that one- staying away from the flu shot. We do our best to stay healthy by eating right and taking proper vitamins. Still trying to get my hubs to drink raw milk…!