Cough.  Sniffle.  Sneeze.  Bless You!

As we depart October and greet November, flu season is starting to take its toll.  It won’t be long until the sneezing and sniffles resonate in the brisk air – we’ll soon be seeing trash cans towered with mountains of used kleenex.  To stay healthy before the “cold” season goes into full swing, many of us have been considering taking flu shots.

We’re pretty familiar with the concept of flu shots – stores have been heavily promoting them, and schools have been sending out emails.  We’ve been made fully aware of how they work, and when and where they’re available to us.  It almost feels as if we’d be guilty if we didn’t get flu shots.

But is the flu shot really a magical needle that chases off the seasonal flu entirely?  Is there a possibility that flu shots are not effective, yet, damage your system?  Before jumping onto the bandwagon, it’s smart to answer these questions and carefully decide whether or not that needle is worth your time and health.

Let’s go back to the basics and go into the technical details of the flu shot.

Flu shots are made of dead virus particles.  Injecting these particles can force your body’s immune system to work against them and turn them into antibodies.

Every year a group of vaccine researchers is gathered to guess which flu viruses might be going crazy the coming fall and winter.  Taking the top three viruses guessed, they build their flu shot of the year fighting against those viruses.  If the viruses are correctly guessed, there is a 70-90% chance that the flu shot will successfully do its job in defeating them.

However-much accurate their guesses may be, there are still loopholes in this.

The effectiveness of flu shots depends on the way your body personally reacts to the vaccine.  Those who are allergic to eggs, even mildly, cannot take flu shots.  Most influenza vaccines are grown in hens’ eggs, so those who have allergic reactions to eggs will definitely have life-threatening allergic reactions to flu shots.  Sometimes, you’ll never find out what your body rejects until you try it.  For those with weaker immune systems, not only will the flu shot not work on them, but there is also a high chance that it’ll make them sicker than before.

One of the causes might be the neurotoxin preservative found in the vaccine–mercury.  Since they need to be kept for long periods of time before and during flu season, flu shots are preserved by this potentially troublesome chemical.  Even though scientists have not found any evidence, many health activists believe that these preservatives can cause autism in children. (No widely accepted research has proven an autism-vaccine link.)

But don’t let these facts scare you:  Allergic reactions are very rare.  If you’re body normally works fine after a flu shot, the worst possible reactions that can happen are swelling in the injected area, headaches, fevers, and rashes.

If you’re unquestionably going to get a flu shot, now is the time to do it.  The flu season skates in about December, and can prolong its journey all the way to March.  After you’ve been vaccinated, it takes the antibodies two weeks to fully take its course and become “effective”.

Still skeptical about whether or not you should skip your flu shot?  It’s always best to think twice before having someone stick a needle into your arm.

Unless you’re certain that you have a weaker immune system, flu shots can be quite helpful when it comes to combating the flu.  Even if it’s not actually as effective as deemed, at least you’ll feel better when you’re out and about, knowing you’ve done everything you can to be protected from the dreaded inconvenience.

After all, we never know if this year’s seasonal flu will become a pandemic or not, so it’s always better to go the extra mile, take a single needle rather than battle with a murderous monster.