A Shot In The Arm

Sometimes you really need a good shot in the arm. Especially this time of year, a good shot in the arm can save you from quite a headache. ‘Tis the season of big crowds, short tempers, long lines, and even longer lifespans for germs sneezed, coughed and otherwise spewed onto every surface you might touch.

Knowing this, I got one.

A flu shot, to be precise, is what I got and I got it in my left arm.

I’m a little late in getting my shot. The ideal time to get a flu shot, according to WebMD, is September or October. That gives you plenty of time, they advise, to develop proper quantities of antibodies to fend off the germs when the germs come calling starting late in October. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the definitive authority on all things influenza, it takes about two weeks post-vaccination to develop the protective antibodies to multiple strains of the flu. This year’s trivalent flu shot, the CDC says, protects against two influenza A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and an influenza B virus.

I have a good reason for being a flu shot laggard. The doctor advised against me getting a flu shot last month because I had a bacterial infection in my sinuses and in my right tonsil. She said I might feel worse and it would be a little taxing on my body if I tried to fight a bacterial infection and flu particles at the same time. She said I should wait until I was all better before getting the flu shot. The CDC’s awesome website about all things flu, cautions that you should tell your doctor if you are sick before getting the shot so I did and I’m glad. The CDC is adamant about dispelling the myth that you can get the flu from the flu shot. You can’t. Click on the blue words above and check the website yourself.

I also waited until now because back in September, researchers at my alma mater, Emory University, published a study that found certain intestinal bacteria were essential for developing the requisite strong immune response to the flu vaccine. In other words, “antibiotic treatment before or during vaccination may impair responses to certain vaccines in humans,” the researchers theorize.

Now, this was in mice, not humans, so the link isn’t certain, but it seemed like a good idea for me to wait until at least ten days post augmentin to get my flu shot.

Most places advertise flu shots for $25; however, a newish urgent care facility near me named Med Post advertises flu shots for just $15. That $10 savings could cover a refill on my asthma medicine so I went to Med Post this morning and got shot. My arm is a little sore but that’s nothing compared to the pain of the flu itself.

Last year I thought I would save money and not get a flu shot. I figured with so many people getting flu shots I didn’t have to worry: no one would be carrying the flu so I wouldn’t get it. I was so wrong.

I not only got the flu, I got bacterial bronchitis and sinusitis on top of it (or because of it; the CDC warns this can happen). I was sick for two weeks. Two miserable weeks of coughing, sneezing, fever, aches and pains, stuffy head, no rest, ugh. That triggered my fibromyalgia so the aches and pains were even worse and lasted for a solid month. It took that same long month for me to breathe normally again, to breathe without triggering an asthma attack.

Getting the flu cost me $130 for the doctor’s visit and another $200 for all the prescription medications. I also spent another $40 for over the counter meds and things like tissues (two large boxes), herbal tea (two large boxes), saline nasal wash, hand soap (I washed my hands so much because I blew my nose so much my hands got badly chapped), hand lotion, and cough drops. I spent $370 because I tried to save $25. That is bad math.

Don’t feel sorry for me. It was my fault. I engaged in illogic, fuzzy thinking. I discounted the severity and the prevalence, even the virulence of the flu and wow, did I pay! It’s a lesson I encourage you not to learn the hard way, too. Flu shots work. Not taking the flu shot doesn’t work, unless you want to get sick and then not getting a shot works beautifully.

It’s not too late. Go get shot!