Can you Still get the Flu if You've had a Flu Shot?

Being a fairly disciplined person, especially when it comes to writing, I’ve been able to stick with a fairly tight publishing schedule re News on the Home Front — at least I was until about three weeks ago.

Even though I practiced what I preach by getting a flu shot early in the season, I still came down with a relatively light case of the flu. Ultimately, I got a secondary sinus infection, and am just now feeling that living a long life is an appealing idea.

Since I got a flu shot but came down with the illness anyway, you might think I’d pooh pooh the efficacy of flu shots and will avoid them in the future.

But you’d be wrong.

I got the flu from my healthy, strong 17 year old stepson; compared to his bout with the flu, which hit him in brutal fashion, mine was very mild, even though I’m 52 years old. His fever spiked as high as 102.5, mine stayed just under 100.

One reason for this, of course, is because H1N1, the most prevalent strain this season, hits younger, healthier people the hardest, just as the Spanish flu did in 1918. In the state of Arkansas, those who’ve died from influenza were 42 years old, on average. With all other strains, the average age is 69.

But another reason my flu experience was mild is because I took the flu shot — I’ve no doubt that if I’d not taken it, I would have been a heckuva lot sicker than I was.

That’s because the flu vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu 100% of the time; there’s no way that one vaccine can protect every single person from every single strain out there.

Another reason is because the flu virus is on tough cookie; from the moment it begins circulating among the population, it mutates in a valiant but misguided effort to survive, which means it’s possible that the strain I caught was slightly different than the one my stepson caught.

So, on my calendar in late September of 2014 is a reminder to get another flu shot — because an impaired flu virus is still better than one that’s fully loaded.

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