Rethinking Healthcare

Another reason to get the flu shot

Another reason to get the flu shot

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Protecting your kid with the flu shot will also protect them from neurological complications that might lead to permanent brain damage.

Advertising for the annual flu shot has come earlier than ever this year, and it's ubiquitous.

Walk into any food store or discount store with a pharmacy and chances are you'll see a sign telling you it's time to get the shot. Probably, the sign will also note that the H1N1 strain is in the new shot, and that everyone six months or older is now eligible for it.

If cost is an issue, some drug chains are giving it away. And as we noted earlier here, medical professionals are being told to get the shot or get out.

It's a good thing. But last season only 24% of us got the shot, and things aren't looking up for this year.

So Josh Bonkowsky (above), a Harvard man now practicing at the University of Utah, has your reason for vaccination right here.

It may keep your kid from getting epileptic seizures.

Dr. Bonkowsky writes in the Annals of Neurology he and his colleagues looked at 303 cases of complications from last year's H1N1 outbreak, and 234 complications from the regular flu. They found those who had nerve-disorder complications from H1N1 had them worse than those who got it from regular flu.

Sure, just 6% of the H1N1 group with complications had neurological symptoms. But two thirds of them had seizures and half had encephalopathy, a potentially fatal condition for which there is no known cure. (They just treat the symptoms, usually with anti-convulsives.)

Now remember, we are talking odds here. Kids who aren't vaccinated don't all get the H1N1 flu. Kids who get the H1N1 flu don't all have complications. Kids with the H1N1 flu and complications don't all have neurological symptoms. And not all those with symptoms get brain damage.

It's perfectly reasonable for you to write and say, "well I got the flu and it was no big deal." We are talking odds here, numbers.

Are you really interested in playing that kind of game with your kids? Especially given that the nonsense about flu shots causing autism have now been conclusively debunked?

Please, get off the crazy train. Get the flu shot.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure