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Dumb Asses who don’t get the flu vaccine

flu-shot-mythsEvery flu season, I resurrect this hysterical and snarky by Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Mark Crislip which was originally published in A Budget of Dumb Asses, which accurately states that healthcare workers who refuse to get a flu vaccine are Dumb Asses. Yes, complete and utter Dumb Asses. Even though this broadside against vaccine deniers is about the flu vaccine, it’s all right to search and replace flu with say meningitis, pertussis, measles or anything. And just because it’s about healthcare workers, it’s all right to replace that with your neighbor, co-worker, or some other anti-scientific antivaccination Dumb Ass.

The upcoming 2014-2015 flu season is just starting, and many physicians and clinics (along with many pharmacies, government flu clinics, and other places) have this season’s flu vaccine. One of the best ways, if not the only real way, to prevent contracting this year’s flu is by immunization with the seasonal flu vaccine.

And it’s time for intelligent, reasonable, and rational people to get their flu shots. We’ve dispensed with many of the myths that are cherished by vaccine refusers, and many reseachers have shown that getting the flu vaccine can improve health outcomes.

Warning: this is funny (unless you’re a vaccine denier, in which case you have no sense of humor, irony or sarcasm, something probably gained by getting vaccinated). So, if you’re reading this list while sipping on coffee, I take no responsibility for damage to your computer, smart phone, or tablet if you snort out your drink. Them’s the rules. 


Crislip starts out his snarky list with a quick preamble about those who refuse to get a flu shot:

I wonder if you are one of those Dumb Asses who do not get the flu shot each year? Yes. Dumb Ass. Big D, big A. You may be allergic to the vaccine (most are not when tested), you may have had Guillain-Barre, in which case I will cut you some slack. But if you don’t have those conditions and you work in healthcare and you don’t get a vaccine for one of the following reasons, you are a Dumb Ass.

And here are Crislip’s 14 types of anti-flu shot dumb asses. Warning: don’t drink anything while reading this. Seriously, you’ve been warned.

  1. The vaccine gives me the flu. Dumb Ass. It is a killed vaccine. It cannot give you the influenza. It is impossible to get flu from the influenza vaccine.
  2. I never get the flu, so I don’t need the vaccine. Irresponsible Dumb Ass. I have never had a head on collision, but I wear my seat belt. And you probably don’t use a condom either. So far you have been lucky, and you are a potential winner of a Darwin Award, although since you don’t use a condom, you are unfortunately still in the gene pool.
  3. Only old people get the flu. Selfish Dumb Ass. Influenza can infect anyone, and the groups who are more likely to die of influenza are the very young, the pregnant, and the elderly. Often those most at risk for dying from influenza are those least able, due to age or underlying diseases, to respond to the vaccine. You can help prevent your old, sickly Grandmother or your newborn daughter from getting influenza by getting the vaccine, so you do not get flu and pass it one to her. Flu, by the way, is highly contagious, with 20% to 50% of contacts with an index case getting the flu. However, Granny may be sitting on a fortune that will come to you, and killing her off with the flu is a great way to get her out of the way and never be caught. That would make a good episode of CSI.
  4. I can prevent influenza or treat it by taking echinacea, vitamin C, oscillococcinum or Airborne. Gullible Dumb Ass cubed then squared. None of these concoctions has any efficacy what so ever against influenza. And if you think oscillococcinum has any efficacy, I would like you to invest in a perpetual motion machine I have invented. None of the above either prevent or treat influenza. And you can’t “boost” your immune system either. Anyone who suggests otherwise wants you money, not to improve your health.
  5. Flu isn’t all that bad of a disease. Underestimating Dumb Ass. Part of the problem with the term flu is that it is used both as a generic term for damn near any viral illness with a fever and is also used for a severe viral pneumonia. Medical people are just as inaccurate about using the term as the general public. The influenza virus directly and indirectly kills 20,000 people (depending on the circulating strain and year) and leads to the hospitalization of 200,000 in the US each year. Influenza is a nasty lung illness. And what is stomach ‘flu’? No such thing.
  6. I am not at risk for flu. Denying Dumb Ass. If you breathe, you are risk for influenza. Here are the groups of people who should not get the flu vaccine (outside of people with severe adverse reactions to the vaccine): Former President Clinton, who evidently doesn’t inhale. Michele Bachmann. Wait, that’s the HPV vaccine.  And people who want to be safe from zombies. If you don’t get the vaccine you do not have to worry about the zombie apocalypse, because zombies eat brains.
  7. The vaccine is worse than the disease. Dumb Ass AND a wimp. What a combination. Your mother must be proud. Unless you think a sore deltoid for a day is too high a price to pay to prevent two weeks of high fevers, severe muscles aches, and intractable cough.
  8. I had the vaccine last year, so I do not need it this year. Uneducated Dumb Ass. Each year new strains of influenza circulate across the world. Last year’s vaccine at best provides only partial protection. Every year you need a new shot.
  9. The vaccine costs too much. Cheap Dumb Ass. The vaccine costs less than a funeral, less than Tamiflu, and less than a week in the hospital.
  10. I received the vaccine and I got the flu anyway. Inexact Dumb Ass. The vaccine is not perfect and you may have indeed had the flu. More likely you called one of the many respiratory viruses (viri?) people get each year the flu. Remember there are hundreds of potential causes of a respiratory infection circulating, the vaccine only covers influenza, the virus most likely to kill you and yours.
  11. I don’t believe in the flu vaccine. Superstitious, premodern, magical thinking Dumb Ass. What is there to believe in? Belief is what you do when there is no data. Probably don’t believe in gravity or germ theory either. Everyone, I suppose, has to believe in something, and I believe I will have a beer.
  12. I will wait until I have symptoms and stay homeDangerous Dumb Ass. Despite often coming to work ill, especially second year residents, about 1 in 5 cases of influenza are subclinical, hospitalized patients are more susceptible to acquiring influenza from HCW’s than the general population,  and 27% of nosocomial acquired H1N1 died. And you wil never realize that you were the one responsible for killing that patient by passing on the flu.
  13. The flu vaccine is not safe and has not been evaluated for safety. Computer illiterate Dumb Ass. There are 1342 references on the PubMeds on safety of the flu vaccine, and the vaccine causes only short term, mild reactions. All health care requires weighing the risks of an intervention against the benefits. For the flu vaccine all the data suggests huge benefit for negligible risk. And as a HCW, it could be argued that we have a moral responsibility to maximize the safety of our patients.
  14. The government puts tracking nanobots in the vaccine as well as RFID chips as part of the mark of the beast, and the vaccine doesn’t work since it is part of a big government sponsored conspiracy to keep Americans ill, fill hospital beds, line the pockets of big pharma and inject the American sheeple with exotic new infections in an attempt to control population growth and help usher in a New World Order. Well, that excuse is at least reasonable. Paranoid Dumb Ass.
And here’s Mark Crislip’s sage advice:

So get the vaccine. And pass this essay on to someone else. The life you may save may be your own. Or be a Dumb Ass.

The flu vaccine is available now throughout the USA, Canada and other countries in the northern hemisphere. Go get them. They’re not going to hurt you, and they will save lives, maybe your own, maybe your child’s, maybe your parents.

Go. Now. You’ve read this, and now you know people who don’t get flu shots are Dumb Asses, so says one of the top infectious disease specialists on the planet. Go get your flu shot. You’re still here? I’m sure your insurance will cover it, so no more delays. GO.


Use the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.


Comments (157)
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  • breed7

    Here’s the thing — I got a flu vaccine every year from 2001-2010. I got the flu seven out of those ten years. Not a cold, not a stomach bug, but actual influenza. Since 2010, I haven’t bothered getting a flu vaccine. Guess what? I haven’t gotten the flu.

    Now, I don’t believe the vaccine causes the flu or weakens your immune system, but I am at a total loss as to how to explain why I haven’t gotten the flu once since stopping the vaccinations. I’m not getting the vaccine again until I start getting the flu again.

    • Skeptical Raptor

      Anecdotes have no value whatsoever. Were you tested for the flu? Because that’s the only confirming diagnosis for flu. And there are relatively simple tests.

      People seem to also forget that randomness happens. Who knows what went wrong. Maybe you were just unlucky, but well within the parameters of random chance. Not 100% of the unvaccinated population gets the flu. I forget the actual figures, but it’s around 50%, though it can be much higher in pandemics. A LOT higher.

      And if you were vaccinated, depending on how good of a guess scientists make as to what strains will be epidemic, the vaccine may only be 60-70% effective. So if you did have the flu (and again, the only way it can be accepted scientifically is a diagnostic laboratory test, which few doctors give), you could have had random bad luck.

      So, it’s possible when you had the vaccine you had bad luck. And when you didn’t random chance worked for you. But you’re an n=1 data point, so anything could have happened.

  • rstsummers

    I’ve have often gotten the flu vaccine, but this was so offensive, I think I will NOT get one again, and I have deleted my subscriptions to the sites that carried this horrendously insulting drivel.

    • Skeptical Raptor

      I’m sure he’s saddened and in tears. And if you want to be a dumbass because you’re “insulted” well, here, take this tissue and go cry in a corner.

    • Lawrence McNamara

      Making medical decisions based on being “butt-hurt” by an Internet posting? Darwin may have an award in your future…..

  • mstaken

    I’m not here to argue, though being called a “Dumb Ass” if someone chooses to not get a flu vaccine might not be the best way to encourage them.

    This year there is a nasal vaccine and no, it’s not dead.

    Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine

    So if you have a child under 2 or you are over 50 and are faced with the choices this year, do not choose the nasal spray, per the CDC.

    • Lawrence McNamara

      FluMist has been used for years now, so no, it isn’t new & yes, we are all very well aware of the age limitations of certain vaccines – and so do doctors.

    • Skeptical Raptor

      Well, if you actually read the article, you’d note that Dr. Mark Crislip, who happens to be one of the most well-respected infectious disease specialists around, wrote it for his fellow medical professionals.

      But seriously, what the fuck is wrong with the word “dumbass?” Grow the fuck up.

  • Loni Hull

    I spoke recently about this with a microbiologist and vaccine developer, Dr. Glen Armstrong PhD., who notes that antibody production among those 35+ is so poor that the flu vaccine is one a healthy person might well decline.

    The Cochrane Collaboration has made clear that available data supports only a 6% reduction in incidence among flu vaccinees, so I’ll go with the experts, make up my own mind, and tell you to go fly a kite –

    This blog isn’t very skeptical. I think I’ll look elsewhere for critical thinking skills. Goodbye.

    • lilady R.N.

      Feel free to “look elsewhere for critical thinking skills”

      Before you go, I think you should read this science blogger’s post about Dr. Tom Jefferson’s recent activities:

      • Loni Hull

        I only respond to vaccine safety and efficacy data. Dismissing a scientist or epidemiologist because of how he spends his time and to whom he speaks is not relevant to my need for data. There is far too much propaganda within the vaccine debate , and it is of no use to me.

        • lilady R.N.

          I’ve already busted you for telling porkies about Dr. Glen
          Armstrong, PhD.

          I’ve got science to back up my statements and you have crank anti-vaccine bloggers to back up your pseudoscience.

          • Loni Hull

            Are you sane? Methinks not.

          • Skeptical Raptor

            So that’s how you roll? Making comments about individual’s sanity? Excellent ad hominem dumbass.

          • Loni Hull

            When she uses the “you have crank anti-vaccine bloggers to back up your pseudoscience” strawman to pigeonhole me, damn straight.

            And you have no sense of irony or you’d see why your comment is uproariously funny, so there’s that.

            This is not a productive discussion, so why don’t you close by calling me more names while I ignore you for the rest of my life? Ready…go.

          • lilady R.N.

            You could always produce that recorded telephone conversation which you claim you had with Glen Armstrong PhD, where you claim that Dr. Armstrong dissuaded you from getting the seasonal influenza vaccine. …so that Skeptical Raport or I could listen to exactly what Dr. Armstrong said.

            You would have to provide us with your real name, not your nym…and you would have to provide us with the original telephone recording…not a transcript.

            I’d also like to know if Dr. Armstrong was aware of the recording…and if you transcibed that recording, did you to submit the transcript of the recording to verify that it is a true transcript of the telephone recording.

            I can guarantee that I will not reveal your real name and I’m sure that Skeptical Raptor will protect your real name if you are using a ‘nym.

            In the Meantime, IMO, if you had contact with Dr. Armstrong, then you added your own preconceived biases or simply change the meaning of Dr, Armstrong’s statments. I make that statement because I, like Dr. Armstrong, have the science, the research and the statisitics behind us, which causes me and him to make forceful supportive statements about flu vaccines…including the verbatim statement I provided by Dr. Armstrong seen upthread in my post.

    • lilady R.N.

      How about a link to Glen Armstrong PhD’s statement “that antibody production among those 35+ is so poor that the flu vaccine is one a health person might well decline.” ?

      Imagine that…attributing that dumb statement to Dr. Armstrong:

      “….The Snyder Institute’s Dr. Glen Armstrong, PhD, advocates for
      educating on the benefits of flu vaccinations as a matter of social
      responsibility and to prevent a public health issue. He points out that
      it has the combined advantage of protecting yourself and others around you.

      “Getting vaccinated gives your immune system a fighting chance,” says Armstrong, Professor and Head, University of Calgary’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “It also increases herd immunity and protects immuno-compromised people, such as the elderly, who may still be susceptible to getting the virus even with a flu vaccination.”

      Designed of bits and pieces of dead virus particles, the flu vaccine
      educates your immune system to create antibodies against recognized flu strains. These antibodies then stop the live virus from growing if it gets into your body. And, although Armstrong doesn’t hide the fact that there are potential adverse side-effects with vaccinations, he does think there is a better chance at winning the lottery jackpot then having a serious adverse reaction from the flu vaccine.

      “The rate of serious adverse reactions is extremely low because we
      now have extremely safe vaccines,” he explains and adds, “There is maybe one adverse reaction in a couple of million doses. The number of lives saved every year by flu vaccines far exceeds the number of serious adverse reactions.”

      “Vaccination is the same principle as cutting your finger and getting
      some dirt in the cut. Your immune system automatically reacts to the
      foreign dirt antigens through inflammation and the redness and soreness that happen during inflammation are indications of your immune system at work.”

      Armstrong also suggests there are now other methods for getting
      vaccinated against the flu, such as the new inhaled FluMist vaccine now available in Canada. It sprays up your nose and triggers your immune system to make antibodies that fight against the flu strains. However, FluMist comes with a cost from pharmacies or from your family doctor versus injections which are free. Armstrong also indicates that there are other ways to avoid getting the flu this aeason, such as washing your hands frequently or before eating, staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, and staying home if you happen to get sick.

      And, of course, the best way to avoid getting the flu this season is get your vaccination shot as soon as clinics open.”

      • Loni Hull

        I have him on voice recording during an interview I conducted with him this spring, so I don’t really care what you dug up in a Google search.

        I’m starting to suspect that you don’t enjoy intelligent questioning of your enthusiasm for every new jab on the market. I might offer a transcript of Dr. Armstrong’s precise wording, but you annoy me when you call my comment dumb simply because you refuse to believe it was uttered. I’ll invite you to go fly a kite with S.R. instead.

        • Skeptical Raptor

          Anecdotes. Not worth anything.

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  • Maggie Howell

    Thank you, SR, for rerunning Dr. Crislip’s hilarious and accurate list.

    • Skeptical Raptor

      It’s my favorite time of the year. :)

  • lw4371

    How rude, whoever wrote this is a dumb ass! Dont bash peoples beliefs. If you enjoy getting a flu shot get one! Dont bash other people for not getting one. We do what we gotta do to get through.

    • Skeptical Raptor

      The safety and effectiveness of vaccines is based on evidence, not “beliefs”. If you believe otherwise, then you have an ignorant and idiotic belief, so yeah, we get to bash your stupidity. Cause that’s we do here.

      By the way, the author of that extremely funny discussion about the dumbasses who don’t vaccinate is one of the world’s leading authorities on infectious diseases. And you are what? An elementary school graduate? Flunked out of nursery school? Home schooled by an incompetent uneducated parent?

    • kellymbray

      Gotta love a whiny tone troller

    • kellymbray
      • Skeptical Raptor

        People think their lame anecdotes support their ignorant beliefs. He probably didn’t have the flu. Whatever.

    • kellymbray

      The flu is a virus not a bacteria.

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    • Rita D. Lipshutz

      that’s right and people in your situation are most vulnerable to illness and even death because the dumbasses care even less about protecting you than they do about protecting themselves. babies under six months of age are too young to be vaccinated and they and pregnant women are also at higher risk because of the category Selfish Dumbass. also, cancer chemotherapy patients and a bunch of other folks with conditions that compromise their immune systems. so a healthcare worker who has no valid medical contraindication but refuses flu shots anyway has to be the ultimate Selfish Dumbass (and a person who somehow got through school and got a license but still doesn’t understand germ theory or herd immunity).

      • lilady R.N.

        The last (and only) time I contracted influenza was during the Asian Flu pandemic, (I didn’t get the vaccine).

        I get the seasonal influenza vaccine for my own protection and so that I don’t infect vulnerable populations.

        Yes, you are a dumbass if you don’t get the seasonal influenza vaccine.

    • squirrelelite

      The short reply is that Tom Jefferson takes a very narrow view of evaluating effectiveness and concentrates on the age group (seniors) whose immune systems don’t make a strong response to vaccines in general. (At least that’s how I remember it.)
      It’s difficult to get 90% effective flu vaccine (like we have for measles, polio, etc.) because there are so many different strains of the virus circulating, new ones like the current H1N1 strain pop up from time to time, and you get mutational drift even during a single flu season. But most estimates indicate getting the flu shot will reduce your chance of getting influenza by about 45-55%. Since it’s such a nasty disease (two weeks of total misery with a good chance of winding up in the hospital with pneumonia), even that limited benefit is definitely worth a sore arm for a day.

      For a direct response to Tom Jefferson by Mark Crislip, whose list is cited, I suggest this link

      which I found in the link lilady cited above (also worth reading).

    • kellymbray

      “I’m just a superstitious magical thinking dumbass”

      Well yes, yes you are.

      “Vaccines only increase the strength of the virus/disease strains”

      OK armchair immunologist. Explain how that works. Cite a proper study. Good luck.

    • ChadwicktheJones

      As if getting the disease ‘naturally’ didn’t have the same effect? You’re not thinking clearly here.

    • lilady R.N.

      Got any, um, proof (links to PubMed citations from peer-reviewed medical and science journals), to back up your statements?

      When was the last polio case reported in the Americas or Europe or Australia/New Zealand…or for that matter India. India was declared free of polio January 1, 2011.

      The last case of smallpox was reported in 1977 in Somalia and smallpox was declared eradicated from the face of the earth a few years after that.

      Typhoid (Salmonelli typhi) is occasionally reported in the United States and every one of those cases are “imported cases” (contracted in an area of the world where S. typhi is still endemic).

      Yes, you really are a superstitious dumbass.

    • kellymbray

      How would you understand what you are reading? Does “homologous recombination tiniker” sound right to you?

    • kellymbray


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    • RetroPastiche

      Yes, yes they do (annoy the Australians).

      My work put the flu vaccine clinic on early this year (March/April IIRC) because of the previous Northern hemisphere’s experience. I was very happy to be in the first group to go. Also, no illness this winter despite previous history of auto-immune problems due to viral infections.

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