According to a Yahoo! News report, this year’s US winter flu vaccine has been just 23 percent effective for people of all ages. While this isn’t the worst percentage it has ever been — the article mentions it’s been as low as 10 percent this past decade — one has to wonder what’s the point of receiving a flu shot if its effect is so low.
I’m not naïve to think that a flu shot will ever be 100 percent effective. But I feel it should work the majority of the time for all demographics. This past December, I contracted the flu and spent all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in bed and/or on the couch in uncomfortable isolation.
One of the worst feelings in the world is vomiting. I almost would rather walk around in pain for an entire day than throw up just once in that 24-hour span. It’s because of this loathing — and not as much about protecting myself from a potentially deadly virus — that I’ve annually gotten a flu shot. Is that a little petty on my part? Sure. But sticking my head in a toilet and retching is still unpleasant no less.
Death does come to those who contract influenza. I read a heartbreaking story about a young newlywed woman who died of sepsis after contracting the flu. One day she was completely healthy — “the picture of health,” her mother would say — and a week later she was gone.
Surely modern science can improve the success rate of flu shots … or at least give the public a coherent reason why there’s such disparity from year to year.