To the Editor:
As the leaves begin to color and the children go back to school, it becomes that time of year again where we drive down the street, past various drug stores with the signs that read “get your flu shot here.” It becomes a controversial topic every year leading ourselves to ask various questions such as, “How beneficial are these flu shots being given?” or “Are we really helping ourselves or hurting our immune systems by not allowing our bodies to build a tolerance?” Various healthcare fields and nursing schools require a seasonal influenza vaccine in order to prevent patients from becoming more ill and for a worker’s own personal protection, but are we really protecting ourselves and others when medical personnel walks on to that hospital floor or in that doctor’s office?
According to the CDC, there are three different types of influenzas out there labeled A, B, and C. The seasonal flu vaccine protects mostly against strains A and B. Scientists every flu season try to predict which strains they feel will be most popular during the autumn and winter months and that is how a vaccine is created. But who is to say that even if we get vaccinated we won’t contract another strain of the flu that was not covered under the original vaccine as the months progress? The virus can take on different forms that scientists call an “antigenic drift.” This happens when genes of the influenza change as the virus replicates overtime. Instead of having our insurance companies billed for a shot that may or may not work due to an ever-changing virus, healthcare workers and community members should be allowed to have the choice to choose whether or not it is right for them.