Yep, you read that title right. I, the woman who feels she has every right to ask all visitors if they have had theirs and to not allow them to enter our home if they haven’t, used to be a bit of a flu shot skeptic. Until last year, I had never had flu shot. I didn’t get a flu shot after I was very, very ill with pneumonia in 1999. I didn’t even get a flu shot during either of my pregnancies.
I wasn’t an outright opponent of flu shots. Kellen always got his, although I was lax with when I’d get around to it. Kyle was always very on top of getting his and I just quietly said, “no thanks”. I wasn’t sold on why they were necessary. I figured, it’s part of the human experience to get sick sometimes and I’m healthy, so if I get sick, so be it.
What I’d like to say to my former self is this,
“IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!”
Yes, I am a healthy person and if I get influenza, for me, it probably doesn’t mean much more than a few miserable days on the couch. Or, maybe it will be like when I had pneumonia in my early 20’s when I missed several weeks of work and ended up spending the millennial New Years Eve in the ER for dehydration and severe pain. (Yes, you’d think that would have changed my mind about flu shots sooner – guess I’m not so bright.)
However, with Owen in the house that changed everything. I finally realized that protecting myself from getting sick was not the purpose of the flu shot. It’s for people, like Owen, who risk severe illness and death with each illness. I also know, it’s not just a preemie thing. Let’s pretend I’m talking to the pre-preemie mom me. What if the day before I came down with symptoms I had been visiting my grandmother or a friend fighting cancer or celebrating a friend’s newborn? What if I was at Target and someone else’s Grandma or a child with asthma was nearby when I started to cough? Or, maybe they used the cart after me. What does a severe respiratory illness, like influenza, mean to this person?
I realize that everyone needs to make their own decisions about the flu shots, and vaccines in general, and I will respect the choices everyone makes. I won’t invite them into my home during the flu season, but I will respect their personal choice. No vaccine comes without risks and everyone should understand the risks and benefits.
However, I don’t think the argument of protecting others is one that a lot of people consider when they make their personal choice. So I’m choosing to evangelize today to give another voice to those that could be seriously harmed by the flu. Maybe, there’s one person who reads this who was on the fence and maybe they will get a flu shot this year. Or, maybe, there is one anti-flu shot person who used to judge those that got their shot, and after reading this post he/she doesn’t change their personal mind but does better respect the decisions of others. Or maybe, there are several preemie moms who just needed to hear someone who thinks like them – so they could nod their head and feel a little less alone as we head into the cold and flu season.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, thank you for considering a flu shot this year.
© Copyright Tatum, All rights Reserved. Written For: Ain't No Roller Coaster