Since we’re entering the 2020-21 flu season, it’s time for the annual epic rant from Dr. Mark Crislip about flu vaccine deniers. No, Dr. Crislip does not write a new one each year, I just republish it every year, because it still makes me laugh. And each year I know there is someone out there who will also love re-reading it for fun. Or maybe it’s your first time.
This diatribe is about “Dumb Ass” 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 science-denying brain.
Dr. Crislip’s humorous compilation of these flu vaccine myths, which were originally published in A Budget of Dumb Asses, describes the different types of flu vaccine deniers among healthcare worker Dumb Asses.
Any nurse, pharmacist, therapist, physician, or surgeon that are flu vaccine deniers by using pseudoscientific nonsense about the vaccine rather than protecting their patients and themselves is appalling.
Of course, flu vaccine deniers aren’t just healthcare workers. I’m sure you know neighbors, friends, family, and even fellow vaccine supporters who are flu vaccine deniers. And they rely on the same ridiculous myths as healthcare workers.
These flu vaccine deniers believe that the flu vaccine is not necessary because the disease is not dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in the world of COVID-19, where the flu vaccine may actually provide benefits to those who contract the coronavirus.
During the 2019-2020 flu season, 194 American children died of the flu. But, there’s more:
- 39 – 56 million Americans contracted the flu
- 18 – 26 million of those had a medical visit because of the flu
- 410 – 740 thousand of those had to be hospitalized as an inpatient
- Finally, 24,000 – 62,000 died
- Worldwide, it is estimated that there will be approximately 290-650 thousand deaths.
We are getting started with this new flu season, hopefully by wearing masks and social distancing, which along with the flu vaccine might make this an “easy” year for the flu. Except, you know what’s going on with the world and masks.
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 fallacies of the anti-vaccine religion. Moreover, many studies have shown that getting the flu vaccine can improve health outcomes.
Too many people, including healthcare workers, are flu vaccine deniers.
Warning about the flu vaccine deniers rant
This list is funny (unless you’re a flu 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.
And now, let’s start with Dr. Crislip:
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.
Favorite flu vaccine deniers
And here are Dr. Crislip’s 14 types of anti-flu shot dumb asses. I’m warning you again, don’t drink anything while reading. Seriously, don’t do it.
- The vaccine gives me the flu. Dumb Ass. It is a killed vaccine. It cannot give you the influenza virus. It is impossible to get flu from the influenza vaccine.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 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.
- 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 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.
- I am not at risk for the flu. Denying Dumb Ass. 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.
- 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 muscle aches, and intractable cough.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I will wait until I have symptoms and stay home. Dangerous 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 (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.
- The flu vaccine is not safe and has not been evaluated for safety. Computer illiterate Dumb Ass. 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.
- 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.
Are we now clear about the flu vaccine?
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 2020-21 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 deniers, 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.