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Home » Annual Mark Crislip rant about healthcare worker flu vaccine deniers

Annual Mark Crislip rant about healthcare worker flu vaccine deniers

We’re entering the 2022-2023 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time for the annual epic Mark Crislip rant about healthcare worker flu vaccine deniers. For the past ten years at the start of the flu season, I reprint Dr. Mark Crislip‘s hysterical and outstanding rant about knucklehead healthcare workers who invent flu vaccine fallacies, tropes, and myths in an effort to justify their belief that the flu vaccine is dangerous, useless, or whatever else that hits their brain.

Dr. Crislip’s humorous compilation of these flu vaccine myths, which were originally published in A Budget of Dumb Asses 2011, describes the different types of vaccine-refusing healthcare workers. I resurrect this list every year at the beginning of the flu season not only for humor (because it is funny) but also to point the finger at flu vaccine deniers who also happen to be healthcare workers.

Any nurse, pharmacist, therapist, physician, or surgeon that refuses the flu vaccine by relying upon pseudoscientific nonsense about the vaccine rather than protecting their patients and themselves is appalling. I may be harsh, but maybe their employment ought to be terminated for their lack of concern about patients.

But the true adherents to the flu vaccine beliefs aren’t just healthcare workers. You know neighbors, friends, family, and even fellow vaccine supporters who refuse to get the flu vaccine. And they rely on the same ridiculous myths as healthcare workers.

These vaccine deniers believe that the flu vaccine is not necessary because the disease is not dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One last thing. You may be asking why I write “knucklehead,” instead of “dumbass” as Dr. Crislip writes, see Note 1.

The season flu

flu vaccine fallacies

During the 2018-19 flu season (the 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22 flu seasons were skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic), 129 American children died of the flu. But, there’s more:

  • 37.4 – 42.9 million Americans contracted the flu
  • 17.3 – 20.1 million of those had a medical visit because of the flu
  • 531-647 thousand of those had to be hospitalized as an inpatient
  • Finally, 36,400 – 61,200 died
  • Worldwide, it is estimated that there will be approximately 290-650 thousand deaths. 

The flu season is just starting, and it’s almost impossible to not find a place to get the vaccine. Your family doctor, clinics, pharmacies, and many other places currently have the flu vaccine. And I am not a hypocrite – I will have my flu vaccination next week. Of course, my healthcare insurance provides them out for free to all members.

And if you think you can prevent or cure the flu with vitamin C, echinacea, or bone broth (yes, it’s a thing), they don’t work. You are not going to be able to boost your immune system to destroy the flu virus unless you get vaccinated.

We’ve dispensed with many of the cherished flu vaccine beliefs of anti-vaxxers. Moreover, many studies have shown that getting the flu vaccine can improve health outcomes.

But too many people refuse this life-saving vaccine.

flu vaccine fallacies
Photo by Zach Savinar on Unsplash

Warning about the healthcare worker flu vaccine deniers rant

This list 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 a cup of coffee, soda, or other favorite libation, the ancient feathered dinosaur takes no responsibility for damage to your computer, iPhone, or iPad if you spit out your drink. Them’s the rules.

Photo by twinsfisch on Unsplash.

List of healthcare worker flu vaccine deniers

And here are Dr. Crislip’s 14 types of healthcare worker flu vaccine denier knuckleheads. I’m warning you again, don’t drink anything while reading. Seriously, don’t do it.

  1. The vaccine gives me the flu. Knucklehead. It is a killed vaccine. It cannot give you the influenza virus. It is impossible to get the flu from the influenza vaccine.
  2. I never get the flu, so I don’t need the vaccine. Irresponsible knucklehead. 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 knucklehead. 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 the flu and pass it on 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 knucklehead, cubed then squared. None of these concoctions has any efficacy whatsoever against influenza. And if you think Oscillococcinum has any efficacy, I would like you to invest in the perpetual motion machine I have invented. None of the above either will prevent or treat influenza. And you can’t “boost” your immune system either. Anyone who suggests otherwise wants your money, not to improve your health.
  5. Flu isn’t all that bad of a disease. Underestimating knucklehead. 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 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 the flu. Denying knucklehead. If you breathe, you are at 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. Knucklehead 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 muscle aches, and intractable cough.
  8. I had the vaccine last year, so I do not need it this year. Uneducated knucklehead. 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 knucklehead. 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 knucklehead. 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 knucklehead. 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 knucklehead. 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 healthcare workers than the general population,  and 27% of nosocomial acquired H1N1 died. And you will 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 safetyComputer illiterate knucklehead. There are 2995 references in PubMed (n.b. – the old dinosaur editor updated this number, just to be current) on the safety of the flu vaccine, and the vaccine causes only short-term, mild reactions. All healthcare requires weighing the risks of an intervention against the benefits. For the flu vaccine, all the data suggests a huge benefit for negligible risk. And as an 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 knucklehead.
flu vaccine beliefs
Obligatory cute dog photo. Photo by Csaba Talaber on Unsplash

Are we now clear about the flu vaccine?

Sage advice from Dr. Mark Crislip:

So get the vaccine. And pass this essay on to someone else. The life you may save may be your own. Or be a dumbass knucklehead (see Notes).

The 2022-23 flu vaccine is starting to become available throughout countries in the northern hemisphere. If you are a healthcare worker, an autoworker, a home worker, or not a worker, get your derriere to your favorite healthcare clinic, doctor, medical center, or pharmacy to get the flu vaccine.

Despite these laughable and crackpot flu vaccine fallacies, the vaccine is very safe and relatively effective.

No one is going to mail you a gold-plated invitation to get the vaccine – just spend a couple of minutes on the internet, and I’m sure you’ll find a dozen places near your home to get the flu shot for free or nominal cost.

Or are you going to believe in the flu vaccine fallacies instead?


The original version of this was posted many times in all of its original glory. Predictably, some anti-vaccine snowflakes got all sad about how Dr. Crislip, one of the leading researchers in public health and infectious diseases, characterized healthcare workers who refuse the flu vaccine. He called them dumbasses. So I replaced that word with the less offensive (and possibly antiquated) term, knucklehead.

Facebook, which allows racist and violent threats from anti-vaxxers all over the place, decided to ban the prior version of this article from their hallowed halls. Thus, I give you the clean version, which I hope does not offend Dr. Crislip, but from what I know he’s a good guy. And he knows about a billion times more about the science of vaccines than any of nearly every single anti-vaxxer. 

So, if you tried to share the former article on Facebook, let’s go with this one about flu vaccine beliefs. Please share it as many times as you can! 

Michael Simpson

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