Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
We have never had flu shots before. Some years we get the
flu and some years we don't.
This year our Dr is recommending that we all get the shot.
None of us fits the categories of 'special needs' such as
asthma, suppressed immune system, and the like.
Anyone want to chime in on their thoughts on the pros and
cons of the shots? I prefer to hear from people who are
not typically against innoculations. thanks!
My understanding is that the rec. used to be that only
high-risk people get the shot, but then they realized that
low-risk people were serving as reservoirs for the disease.
so now they recommend for strong healthy people too. My
understanding is the benefit to you/your kids is not that
great (though less likely to get a very bad illness!), but
the benefit to society is huge. Every year thousands of
people die from flu. So if you can save a life with $15 and
a little owie, that seems like a good deal!
Go for it!
You know, this could be just me, but every year I got a flu shot I came down
with the flu. The years I didn't get a shot, I didn't get sick. Granted, when I
the shots my twins were younger and maybe the flu came to me via them, but I
haven't had a flu shot in eight years and haven't had the flu in all that time
I am knocking wood as I type!) So I don't see the shots as a guarantee that you
won't get sick and skipping the shots doesn't mean you WILL get sick.
My daughter just had the nasal version and all went very
well! I actually had the flu when she got the nasal
spray, but she never caught it from me. She didn't have
any side effects from it but I have heard that patients
can come down with mild flu-like symptoms. By the way,
she's not in any risk category either.
I had never had a flu shot in my life either, until I got
the flu and passed it onto my then 18-month-old daughter.
Then I always got a flu shot and neither my daughter nor I
have gotten the flu since. My daughter got her first flu
shot this week because our insurance now covers it. I can't
think of any cons. For healthy adults and healthy
kids/teens the pro, besides not feeling miserable for a
week or two, is to lessen the possibility of passing it on
to unprotected babies, the elderly and people in risk
groups. Several thousand people die of the flu in the US
-- don't like getting sick and don't want to pass it on if I do
I can't cite any studies for you just personal experience.
We've all gotten flu shots since my now teen-aged kids were
in pre-school. It has drastically cut down on our rate of
sickness each year. We're not considered 'high risk' in any
way, though my mother is now elderly and I wouldn't want to
pass the flu on to her. She's always gotten a flu shot
every year, has very rarely been sick but I saw recently
that flu shots may be less effective in the elderly. My
kids still see their pediatrician (because they like her!)
and we all get flu shots from our pediatrician.
no vaccine phobia here
Flu season is almost here! I have a toddler and an infant. My
tot got the thimerosal flu vaccine in mid Oct. My
pediatrician's office administers flu vaccines to babies 6
months or older so the doctor said she can come back in a
couple of months for the vaccination. She is exclusively
breast-fed so I'm hoping my antibodies will protect her in Nov
and Dec. Since she's so young, I'm thinking of skipping her
vaccine this winter. I'm thinking that both my partner and I
should get the flu vaccination. We're both in really good
general health. What are other families doing?
want to stay healthy this winter
I had a similar dilemma with my son: he's a July baby and was
breast fed, with what seems to be a good immune system, so I
really didn't think he needed the flu shot. Plus I'd heard about
vaccines in general having potential (if small) risks, and he had
become listless for a few hours after his 3 month vaccines. But
his pediatrician recommended the flu shot especially since he has
lung function issues, and his pulmonologist had insisted we give
him synergist (not a vaccine, but injections of the cold
antibodies to stop very vulnerable babies from even getting a
cold!). Anyhow, although I was very hesitant, we did everything
they told us to, synergist and vaccines and the flu shot, and our
son did indeed have a very healthy first two years.
Breastfeeding alone may have done the trick; I'll never know. If
my son had not had underlying health issues, I believe I would
not have bothered with the flu shot, and certainly not with the
I don't give my kids (2 and 4) the flu vaccine because of the
thimerosal. I always get it myself - I am and nurse and am
exposed to all kinds of bugs. Maybe once they are at least 5 or
teenagers or something I'll give it to them not now with their
little brains developing so fast.
Not to be alarmist, but the number one cause of death among
infants is respiratory illness often associated with the flu.
Because their lungs are so small they can easily suffocate when
their lungs become involved. I highly recommend getting the
vaccine as soon as you baby is 6 months. You may be protected
but your baby can be infected by anyone else (unless you confine
him to home) Also your toddler comes in contact with many young
kids who could easily have the flu and could still get a mild
case that could be transmitted to your baby. The flu vaccine is
among the least problematic and really, really necessary. I
should say that I also have alot of reservations about
vaccinations but some are just too beneficial to pass on.
another concerned mom
you should do a little bit of research on the flu vaccine
itself, and maybe vaccines on the whole. what i understand
about the flu vaccine is that it is developed by the doctors
who guess which flu strain will likely effect the most people
this year and then they develop the vaccine for that one
strain. this means that there are several other flu strains
that you would not be immune to. in addition, some people get
sick with the flu when they receive the vaccine and some people
i know have had the worst flu season in their life after
getting vaccinated. for us, as a family, we do not get
vaccinated for the flu. i personally feel like if i'm going to
give my children a vaccine, i want it to be a guarantee, not
a ''might keep you healthy''. in the meantime, we eat a diet
based on organic seasonal fruits and veges, along with plenty
of water and tea and we wash our hands frequently!
The last set of responses contained some wildly incorrect
information on the flu vaccine that I would like to correct. The
flu vaccine is created anew each year from the most prevalent
strains currently affecting people. Doctors analyze active
strains in the Southern Hemisphere (currently finishing their
winter flu season) to create the vaccine. This year South
America had a mild flu season, Australia's was bad. They took
the 3 most prevalent strains and made the current flu vaccine.
Once you get the vaccine, it takes up to 2 weeks to have created
anti-bodies strong enough to fight it off. The flu vaccine
(sadly) is not for the stomach flu.
My entire family has had the vaccine for the last five years. We
haven't had any problems and been flu free. We do it because I
watched several holidays ruined by infections, and me trying to
parent with a 103 fever and a new baby. You and your spouse
would probably not be the ones in the hospital with the flu, it
will be your toddler or grandma who really suffers. Not to be an
alarmist, but after spending last weekend in the ER (of a great
hospital) watching them so short staffed that two men with
possible heart attacks and an infant in distress were waiting
hours, I would get a vaccine before Thanksgiving and lots of new
You asked what other families are doing: ever since our baby was
born we have gotten both her and ourselves vaccinated every flu
season, and we just did it again (she's two now). We find
parenting hard enough with just the addition of the winter's
cycle of daycare colds--no way we want to add the flu on top of that!
I am a pediatrician and wanted to respond to some of the information given by
other posters concerning the influenza vaccine. First, California mandates by law
that kids under age 3 receive thimerosol (mercury) free flu vaccine. Second, the
vaccine is a killed form of the influenza virus, so you can't get or spread the flu from
the vaccine. Your baby may experience a sore leg or a fever within the first 72
hours of getting the vaccine (as can happen with many of the vaccines (s)he is
already receiving). Third, babies experience the highest morbidity (i.e. bad results
from) the flu than any other age group. They are more likely to develop
pneumonias, for example. (Elderly folks, however, experience the highest
mortality). Fourth, even if the public health gurus who have to ''guess'' each year
which flu strains to place in the vaccine get it somewhat wrong, you may still get
partial protection and less severe flu symptoms than you might have gotten
This year, the CDC is recommending all kids between 6 months and 18 years get the
flu vaccine. This is an excellent public health recommendation since influenza is
spread throughout our population through our schools and day-cares. In Japan,
they used to immunize their school aged populations first and found a big decrease
in influenza in the rest of the population and a decrease in flu deaths in the elderly,
who don't make a great antibody response to the vaccine. Unfortunately, there was
a public outcry since the ''vulnerable population'' was not being vaccinated. They
then went back to their usual way of giving out the vaccine, and, predictably, flu
deaths went back up.
I have given my kids their flu vaccines every year since infancy and took them myself
when I was pregnant with both of them. It's good for your family and good for
I am curious if others have experienced this: I had a flu shot
last fall and my arm was sore for weeks. Eventually I was
unable to move my shoulder w/o pain and by January was
diagnosed with frozen shoulder. I had an underlying 'non-
surgical' tear from an earlier injury to that shoulder. I've
been told that no one knows what causes frozen shoulder,
but 'they' suspect it is viral and there is anecdotal evidence
that it can occur after a flu shot. Also, it affects mostly
women over 40 (I'm in my 40s); I haven't been able to find out
any more info about it and am wondering if anyone else knows
about this. The condition is painful and lasts around a year.
I am both wondering how prevalent it is and why there isn't
more known about it. I will be thinking long and hard before I
get my next flu shot.
not sure flu shots are worth it anymore
I've had frozen shoulder a few times in the last 20 years. I
gather that if you're susceptible, any inflammation in the
shoulder can lead to frozen shoulder. My own experience is that
if all the shoulder muscles, including those connected to the
shoulder blade, are in good tone, it's easier to bounce back from
any insult (such as a tear or overwork) and avoid the
inflammation. It sounds like inflammation from the flu shot is
definitely related, on top of the existing tear. If you can get
your shoulder into really good shape by next fall (of course
avoiding aggravating the injury in the process), you may be able
to handle a flu shot OK (no guarantee!). But if you can't, it
could be a setup for another frozen shoulder. Keeping mobile
despite pain is very important, as is knowing how much pain is OK
and when to slack off exercise. Sorry I can't be of more help!
Do a google! Here are three resources from a quick search I just
did of ''frozen shoulder'':
I am a Physical Therapist. I don't have an answer to your flu
shot question,although I have heard of a link as well.
I do know that frozen shoulders usually last a while but do get
better with therapy. If you haven't seen a Physical Therapist,
you may want to think about asking for a referral.
I am also wondering who diagnosed frozen shoulder, as it is
commonly misdiagnosed. I think you stated an old cuff tear. This
could actually be related to that. You mentioned pain with mov't
but not decreased mobility of shldr. A true frozen shldr also
presents with profound loss of range of motion in joint for all
directions(planes) of movement.
I don't mean to confuse you, but I have been called to treat a
majority of ''frozen shoulders'' that were not actual frozen
shldrs at all, and they all responded well and quickly once
I guess what I am suggesting is (if you haven't already) getting
another opinion, seeking out an orthopedic referral, requesting
and MRI, getting a referral to PT. A good PT will catch the
misdiagnosis if made and can get you going on a treatment so you
don't sit around and wait for it to get better on it's own,
which is often what is done w/ frozen shldr. Good luck.
I had a very similar experience 4 years ago when I got my first
and only flu shot. I will NEVER get one again. I had such
intense pain at injection site and horrible body aches.
I did not have the frozen shoulder as you describe but I can
sure relate to what you are going thru. I hope you find relief
with physical therapy or some other type of treatment. I will
never get a flu shot again.
I am 41 and have had frozen shoulder for the past 9 months. I
was in so much pain during the first 6 months that I couldn't
sleep. But no one could tell me what caused it! I have never
had a flu shot, and I didn't have a shoulder injury (though I
did have some minor problems in that shoulder from
breastfeeding). It seems like, if you have some kind of
weakness in one shoulder, then that shoulder is susceptible.
For me, I think it was triggered by a very intense four weeks
of computer work where I was using the mouse a lot.
Anyway, whatever the cause, you need to focus on cures now. I
found something on the Internet that helped me a lot: ''The
Ultimate Frozen Shoulder Therapy Guide'' by Brian Schiff (I
don't have the link, but you can Google it). It costs something
like $30 but is money well spent. The exercises were far more
helpful than the physical therapist I was seeing (who didn't
seem to know what to do). They say it goes away by itself, but
I think the exercises helped it go away faster. Plus the guide
gives you tips on how to deal with the constant pain.
Also, you have to be patient. I drew a pencil line on the wall
and every day as I did the exercise where you push your hand up
the wall, I tried to get it slightly above the line from the
previous day. It wasn't always possible. It is a truly
frustrating and painful condition. I had to take Motrin or
Aleve every night just to get a few hours of sleep. Hang in
there. It will get better eventually. Do the exercises daily
and that will help alleviate some pain and speed up your
Flu season is upon us and my husband and I are concerned for the
health and well being of our 16 mos. old daughter. While my
husband and I have never believed in getting the vacinne
ourselves, we question whether or not our daughter should have
it. Can anyone give us sound advice on whether or not the flu
shot is the best thing that we can do for our daughter? I have
friends who believe in them and others who do not. We are
Regarding the flu shot, our pediatrician explained to us that
it's wiser for the adults (who have more social exposure) to get
the flu shot to avoid infecting our young kids, rather than
having the kids endure another shot
flu free so far
Is your daughter ever around other kids? If not, then you
are fine not getting her vaccinated. If your child has
any contact with other kids, though, she can get the flu.
My kids get flu shots
because I know from personal experience
that little kids get very, very sick when they
get the flu, and I don't want them to go through that!
This has nothing to do with belief - after you see a one-year-old
with the flu, you will do everything in your power to prevent that
Check out this website: www.thinktwice.com
One of their links (to the right side of their web page) talks
about flu vaccines and how safe they are
The standard notion is that the flu shot is more important for
infants and elderly because their immune systems are not as
strong. That said, when my daughter was under 4, there were flu
shot shortages every single year, and she never got one till
this year. I would have if it were available, though
One thing to keep in mind for all shots for kids is that the
vaccine/shot be ''Thimerisal Free.'' Thimerisal is a
preservative, high in mercury. It has recently been banned in
children's vaccines, but is sometimes still used in flu-shots
(which are not child specific). There is some mixed evidence
that Thimerisal Vaccines were linke to childhood autism. You
can find an abundance of information on this on the web. Our
pediatrician had thimerisal-free flu-shots last year which I
got for all 3 of my young kids
I get the flu shot every year without fail. I am a nurse so I
get exposed to all kinds of stuff and don't want to bring bugs
home to my little ones.
That said I do not get the flu shot for my children (3 and 1.5
years) because my understanding is that the flu shot is one of
the few vaccines that they still make with thimerosol (mercury)
and that is believed, by many, to contribute to developmental
problems, certainly thimerosol has gotten a lot of bad press.
The other reason I don't feel comfortable giving the flu shot t
my kids is that it is a live (attenuated) virus meaning that it
is the actual virus but manipulated in a lab to render it less
virulent - less likely to cause the flu. I don't the idea of
giving live viruses to kids under two.
To be clear I am very pro-vaccine. My kids get all their
vaccinations even the MMR which is another live virus, but I
think the schedule is really aggresive so, for example, my kids
don't get the the MMR until they are two years old
Someone posted this week about the flu shots, saying they
contain a live, attenuated vaccine. This is NOT true. She may
have confused it with the nasal spray flu vaccine, which is a
live attenuated virus and for that reason is only given to kids
age 5 and up. The shot is a dead virus and cannot give you the
flu! But you shouldn't believe me -- any more than you should
believe what the other poster said. Try these links to get the
Here's what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has to say.
''The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed
(inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some
minor side effects that could occur are
Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
Fever (low grade)
''The ''flu shot''—an inactivated vaccine (containing killed
virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu
shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months,
including healthy people and people with chronic medical
The nasal-spray flu vaccine—a vaccine made with live, weakened
flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV
for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). LAIV is approved for
use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not
Also, the issue of thimerosal was raised. A limited number of
thimerosal-free flu shots is available. To learn more, here's
the CDS info page about it:
Get your shots!
After much research I am still leaning towards getting a
thimerosol-free flu shot for my 7 month old. Last flu-season when
I was pregnant and healthy, I decided against a shot and ended up
sick and in the emergency room (i also ended up with
complications during pregnancy, which may or may not have been
related) So I may be a little traumatized by the flu also...
Because BPN members are so resourceful I wanted to post here to
get other opinions. Also where are you getting the shots for
your children? My docs office already went through their first
batch and told me to try in Nov.. If she gets it, she'd need two
doses a month apart and I'd rather not wait. Thanks
Contact the health department Immunization Branch:
You could also call the Berkeley Public Health Department.
Good luck! Vaccinations are the safest, most effective medicines so far.
We are trying to decide whether or not to give our 6-month-old
baby a flu shot. There are really two issues here. The one of
most concern is that our HMO uses a shot that has thimerasol in
it. If it weren't for that, I think we would do it. There is
also the issue of whether or not the little guy needs yet
another shot, but our pediatrician--with whom we are very
comfortable--recommends it in no uncertain terms.
Does anyone have some good advice about this? Does anyone know
of a place that offers the shot without the thimerasol?
Thanks from a concerned new mom.
As a mother myself, I realize vaccinations are always a difficult
decision. It is wise to have caution when considering another injection
for your baby, especially when the injection contains thimerasol. While
the link between thimerasol and autism are controversial the potential
certainly warrants a second thought. Some of the questions to ask
yourself about whether your child would benefit from a flu shot would be
to consider the following:
1 - How did his body respond to the previous vaccinations? Did he seem
to have any adverse reactions? - If yes, then I would suggest another
vaccine is not a good idea.
2- What is his exposure level? Is he with you and your partner all day?
Is he at daycare where all the children seem to be ill?
3- How does he tolerate illnesses when he does get ill? Does his body
seem to deal with them fairly quickly or do they drag on for a long
4- Are you doing anything else for his immune system during the
cold and flu season?
5- Lastly, what would you do and how would you feel if he did catch the
flu? After having the shot and/or not having the shot (since you are
probably well aware that receiving the shot is certainly not a guarantee
that he will not come down with the flu).
Hope this helps, please feel free to contact me at my office
(925) 939-0300 if I can be of further assistance in your decision making
process, Dr. Anja Lindblad, Licensed ND
Thimerosol has a really bad reputation that I think is largely
undeserved. The risk of developing problems from thimerosol is SO much
lower than the risk of developing problems if the vaccine had some sort
of contamination (thimerosol is a preservative), or the risk of
developing serious problems from catching the flu at such a young age
(i.e. higher risk of developing asthma).
Our 9 month old son's doctor has recommended that our son get
the influenza vaccine later this year. She doesn't know if her
office's batch will include thimerosal (sp.?), which contains
mercury. I'd rather him get a mercury-free vaccine. Can
anyone recommend a doctor, clinic or pharmacy that in the past
has provided mercury-free influenza vaccines?
From the research that I did before this past flu season, there
is only one manufacturer that manufactures the thimerosal-free
influenza vaccine; the vaccine is called ''Fluvirin''.
But, here's the thing, Fluvirin is NOT approved for use in
Children 6 months - 4 years old.
Not that you asked, or anything, but if your child is not
immuno-compromised, I'd skip the vaccine all together and be very
diligent about washing hands instead.
As for thimerosol, I just read in an extensive New York Times
piece that no vaccines in this country contain it anymore, and
haven't for around a year. Those vaccines were either used up
already on American children or shipped out to developing
The July/August issue of Mothering Magazine has a cover article on flu
vaccines and mercury content. To quote the article, ''In 1999 the FDA
requested that vaccine manufacturers phase in a replacement for thimerosal,
and they agreed to do so by 2001. However, no ban was enacted, and
thimerosal remains in vaccines five years after the FDA recommendation.'' As
for the flu vaccines, neither the CDC or AAP ''mentioned thimerosal at all in
their public statements on the new flu vaccine recommendation.'' The article
goes on to describes the limited choices on the market and their thimerosal
Kim Lyons-Stuart, M.Ed., CMT
Contrary to some media reports, mercury *is* still used in a
number of vaccines, most notably the flu vaccine. One or two
manufacturers make a non-thimersol flu vaccine, but the supplies
are limited. Ask your pediatrician to make sure they order the
non-thimersol version. There's an excellent article in the
current issue of Mothering Magazine on this topic. I highly
The Times recently reported on a new study from (I believe) NYU
that--for the first time---links autistic behavior in mice with
high mercury levels. What was interesting about the study was it
showed that only the mice with a particular genetic make-up were
affected by the exposure. If further studies bear this out, it
explains why some children develop autism/neurological damage from
exposure and others do not.
A concerned mom
How necessary is it to vaccinate at this age, this year?
(assuming we can even find the vaccine). The Grandparents are
coming on hard with the Fox Evening News version (i.e. full-on
panic), but I'm not convinced...However, I would hate to
misjudge. What are the possible cons to the vaccine? Does it
contain thimerosal (methyl mercury)? What about letting the
child's immune system develop? Is the flu really worse this year
than in years prior? Please help us sort out the madness!!
I too recently faced this issue for my 2 and 5 y.o.s. I made the
doc's appt. and then talked to him at length about it. In the
end, I declined the shots. The decision is somewhat
philosophical; yes, the shots do have thimerosol and other stuff;
the kids have to get two shots/year until they are nine. Seems
they already are getting enough stuff put into them (other
vaccines, which I did do). Then there is the whole question of
the media. Are we just hearing more about it because it came
earlier this year and its a slow news night? Is it really a more
virulent strain then before? Some claim yes, but there appears
to be no evidence to back this up. So how can one really make an
informed decision under pressure (no more shots, unless you go
for FluMist which you can't becau! se the nasal spray is for 5 year
olds and up). So in the end I decided no (and they told me I
would not have another chance as they were out of vaccine). Of
course the next day, the headline in the Comicle is about the 7
year old who died while cuddled up next to presents under the
Christmas tree. So I am second guessing my decision.
I think it comes down therefore to a philosophical question about
how you treat. I believe this to be overtreatment as my kids
aren't indicated as needing it. By the way, my pediatrician
claims that the reason they recommend flu shots for the under two
set is an economic one; kids under two who have high fevers, flu
or not are usually hospitalized, thus costing a ton more money to
the system. As I left the doctor's office, a neighbor was there
and I told her I had declined the shots; she looked at me as if I
was a lunatic and asked in a rather snippy way what the downside
In the end, I'm not sure I made the right decision. Sorry, this
may not help, but perhaps it will. Good luck
i realize the topic of vaccines/flu shots to be a very
controversial issue- i have done much research in this
arena-as a mom of a 15- month old and a chiropractor, i
want to do the best for my child and also my patients-
in my opinion,flu shots are ridiculous- they are basically
guessing what this years flu will be based on last years flu-
there is nothing wrong with getting the flu- it will make your
immune system stronger-and if you have noticed-the people
who are getting the flu, have gotten the flu shot!
a great website to look at regarding this topic is
www.thedoctorwithin.com- i know there will be pople who
read this and may not agree with me at all,but on this topic i
feel very strongly and need to voice my opinion-
Because our daughter was premature, we were encouraged by our
pediatrician to have her innoculated against the flu (last year
when she was one, and now again that she is two). The
respiratory symptoms of some severe strains of flu can be very
harmful to children in higher-risk categories (asthma, history
of resp. ailments), we're told. But this year we were given a
choice between a thimerosal-preserved and thimerosal-free
injection, and naturally chose the latter. Ask your
pediatrician about it. In any case, our daughter has never
suffered ill effects, and it's my impression that statistically
the instance of severe side effects for most vaccines is very
low compared to the instance of severe side effects from the
illnesses they help prevent. But that's a hot-button issue for
many people, and I don't want to start a conflagration!
Opted for vaccination
Last year, I immunized myself & my 9 month old, and we got the
shots again this year. This season's flu epidemic is being
compared to the outbreak in 1918, which apparently killed more
Americans that WWI. Of course, they didn't have flu shots or
modern medicine then.
This winter, your baby will most likely catch every cold s/he
comes in contact with and have runny nose after cough after
runny nose regardless of the flu shot. I think catching these
colds is important to build a strong immune system, but I
recommend saving yourself a lot of tough days and long nights by
getting yourself and your child a flu shot so you only have to
deal with the colds. Being a new parent is hard enough when they
BTW, you can't build antibodies to the flu because the strains
change every year.
this page was last updated: Oct 12, 2009
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network