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This is not to cause a debate, but I'm against the flu vaccine, but I'm a caretaker for my Mom. I'm really having a huge conflict over this. I would also feel like a hypocrite taking the flu shot when I'm a writer and post articles about the dangers of the vaccine. But now, my mother's immunity is at stake since she is going for chemo and radiation - even if it's stage 0. (Thank God.) But it goes against every fiber of my being to take this shot. Is there anyone else out there that is a caregiver who is against the vaccine, who now takes it just to make sure their loved ones don't get sick? Once I stopped taking the vaccine years ago, I never got the flu again. It was only when I was actively getting the shots come autumn. Any advice?

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Check with her MD, but in our experience with radiation and chemo, they actually wanted our daughter to avoid vaccination because her immune system was so depleted that it would be unable to respond properly.
With your mom, it is important to WASH YOUR HANDS and to stay away from big family parties where sneezing and coughing is all too common. Of course at Thanksgiving, when you pass the side dishes, you pass all your germs too.
Think about it, flu season takes off after the winter holidays. Why? because we all shared germs at the gatherings.
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Every fall like clockwork, mom had the flu vaccination for the type du jour. Two weeks later like clockwork, she got the worst cold/sore throat she'd ever had. That went on for five years. I finally insisted she stop getting the flu shot. End of the problem.

The doctor, of course, didn't believe the cause and effect, so he noted in her file that she was allergic to it. She hasn't had a flu shot in 15 years. She's 87. And won't be getting another. Ever.

I don't get flu vaccinations and have no plans to start.

No matter what recommendation I got for mom, I would not get her vaccinated.
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I used to never get a flu shot. About 15 years ago I got such a bad case of the flu. My temperature hit 105 one day. I was crazy miserable, sick as a dog, and contagious bed of roaches. I was so sick and miserable that I knew I never wanted to have the flu again. Hubby had his flu shot that year, so he stayed well. So now I get the flu shot every year. My mother gets one, too. We go to public places, such as churches, restaurants, and (the worst) doctors' offices. I haven't had the flu again. We've never had a bad reaction to the shot, beyond a little arm soreness.
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Just for clarity the actual flu is a really really nasty RESPIRATORY illness that can be complicated by Staph pneumonia. It is not a stomach bug (stomach flu is a misnomer) and definitely not a cold. Vomiting it not uncommon but diarrhea is. Primary spread is by respiratory droplet. I don't know if the Countrymouse test has been validated as well as the rapid or the definitive influenza A or B tests, but I would not be too suprised if it worked and was realtively cost-effective :-). Sometimes they will not even run the standard tests that in a setting where flu is very common, illness is very typical, and there is enough Tamiflu to go around.
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I get my flu shot every single year, and I think I had a mild reaction to it 1-2 times. Statistically, its a good bet/good idea. If you consistently react badly, its not such a good idea - unless you are pregnant or a teen ager or with asthma where the flu really could kill you or put you on a rehab unit, and you might want to consider tolerating or accepting mild side effects. We saw some bad, bad stuff on the pediatric side the past several years....I would personally be pretty nervous if for some reason I couldn't take mine, but then as a health care worker I'm expected to to help protect patients, and also more likely to be exposed, so for me the risk-benefit assessment is very much tilted in favor of getting the shots. Older adults also tend to tolerate the shots really well. My folks always got theirs, even while in skilled care, no side effects.

One recent year when H1N1 was making the rounds, while my age group had some partial immunity form years past, my poor son was sick as a dog with it for two sold weeks, and I was ill for just a day and a half. But it was a good reminder not to compare "flu-like illness" with the real thing - I really thought I was gonna die, and felt bad enough that didn't seem like such a bad idea. That's fairly specific to actual infuenza, most other viral infections just don't hold a candle to it.
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I can only tell you my experience, which is that years ago, my younger brother brought the flu home from school and gave it to grandma who subsequently died of pneumonia. My understanding from reading Japanese studies is that when they vaccinated all the school children in Japan, the death rate among the elderly went down dramatically, without the older folks getting vaccinated.

that being said, I get the vaccine every year because I work with young kids. I last had the flu about 15 years ago and realized that if the house caught fire, I was so incapacitated, I would'n't be able to get down the stairs and out of the house, I was that sore and unable to get out of bed. At this point, I'm trying hard not to infect my mom with a transmission from any of the little kids I'm around. So you really have to judge your own risk of exposure.
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Boogs, there are egg-free and preservative free vaccines available. In fact there is a new vaccine this year called Flublok which does not have the actual virus in it either, not does it have antibiotics or adjuvants. Not available everywhere, you have to ask your MD.
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Boogs, you have to know this isn't right. You have been through a lot in your life, and you know some people won't like you or sympathize with you. Name calling when you are hurt, especially with profanity, is not the best option and does not put you in a good light. Of COURSE you can be a caretaker and be angry! I was once terribly hurt by some comments implying that people who felt negatively about their situation should not and could not be good caregivers, and the person indicated yes, that's what they really though and really meant...but it made no sense when it turned out they were grappling with those feelings and actually very depressed and in counseling. I suspect that kind of self-judgement and denial of those emoptions in herself are what led to it. To be angry - maybe about the unfairness of the situation - that's only human...some of our situations are worse than others - and the key is that you may feel whatever you feel; maybe you need your perspective corrected a little bit and then you won't feel quite as bad, sure, but it does not make anyone a bad caregiver, particularly if they struggle and decide to do what is right despite their feelings. This forum is where, for the most part, we at least tell people their feelings are valid and don't make you a bad person.

My cousin is gay. She took care of my aunt through a terminal illness recently, and had been her main support (along with her husband, not my cousin's father but actually a third marriage) for many years, out in Colorado. And she held the rest of us a bit at arm's length I think out of fear we would sit around judging her, but we didn't, and we are grateful to her for making Aunt Pat's life a little better and being there at the end. My cousin went through a lot of emotions and kept them close to the vest for the most part. Whatever else happens, you care for some people who need you. What can you do but love them, and love yourself the best you can. Feeling angry is being human. Feeling suicidal means you need to reach out for help. You got some perspectives on your life you don't agree with...it's OK. If it makes you realize your choices are good ones and defensible, so much the better. If it makes you realize you know your own life better than anyone else, that can't hurt either. Angry (outwards, towards others or towards the situation) is healthier than anger turned inwards (aka depression.)
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Since the question is about protecting your mother the only answer that makes sense is yes get one. Sometimes we do things for others that we might not choose for ourselves. A compromised immune system leaves her vulnerable - why take the chance? The purpose of immunizations is to create a safety zone for those who are at risk. Personally I think you are very open and brave in asking this question based on your personal beliefs about vaccinations. No matter what you decide, the fact that your mind is open and your heart is in the right place says that you are a good daughter.
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Boogs, If you get sick and she gets sick, consider that who survives is decided by mother nature, god, and microbes. Much of life is a no fault situation.
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