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Video transcript
Whenever I talk about flu vaccine with people, I often hear the same questions and comments coming up over and over again. And so I put a short list together of really common things that people say. And I wanted to discuss them one by one. So let's say this person over here to the top left, this person, she says to me, well, you know what? I don't really see the point of getting the vaccine because I never get sick. She says many years have gone by, and her immune system has just been really healthy, and she just never seems to get sick. So she just doesn't see the point of getting the vaccine. And in response to this, what I usually draw an analogy to is seat belts. And I'll say, well, many people have never been in a serious car accident, but we know from research that seat belts are a really good idea, and they keep you safe. And they reduce the risk of getting a horrible injury. And so just as I would recommend you wear the seat belt, or maybe you wear a helmet if you're doing something dangerous, similarly, I would recommend the flu vaccine. And usually when I explain it this way, people get it. And they say, oh, OK, well even though I've never gotten in a major car accident, I do wear my seat belt. So just like that, even though I've never gotten sick, I'm going to go ahead and get my flu vaccine. Now, on the bottom left, this gentleman is saying a little bit of the opposite. He says, well, you know, I've gotten the flu vaccine, Dr. Desai. But I still got sick. I did it last year, maybe the year before, and I still got sick afterwards. So what was the point? Why did I even do it? And so now I don't want to do it anymore. And I can understand his logic. That makes a degree of sense. And what I usually tell folks that say this is-- I explain the idea of a copycat virus, that maybe when they got sick with what they thought was the flu or the flu virus, that maybe it was one of these other viruses. Remember there are viruses such as RSV, or rhinovirus, that can sometimes make you feel like you have the flu. So maybe he had one of those viruses instead. Another explanation could be maybe he got sick right after he got the vaccine. And remember, the vaccine needs a couple of weeks. There's a two-week delay or so before you get the full protection from the vaccine. So maybe he was in that two-week time span right after he got the vaccination, and maybe he got sick then. And lastly, we have to remember the flu vaccine has three strains in it. So maybe he had a different strain. Maybe it was just one or the other flu virus strains that was out there that year. So who knows exactly why he got sick that year that he says he got sick. But that doesn't change the fact that the flu vaccine is still going to reduce his chances of getting sick in the future. Now, one thing, I'm going to stick with this gentleman here in the bottom left. He might say, well, a different strain? What the heck? If that's the case, then what's the point? I often hear that. He says, what's the point if you could have a flu illness from some other strain? And when people talk about this, I have to remind them that it's not perfect. So it's not an exact science. And what you have to remember is that it goes back to the seat belt issue. It does reduce your chances of getting sick from the flu, but it's not going to reduce it down to zero. Nothing in life is going to reduce your chances to zero, and there's still a possibility that you could get sick. And so our best offer is that you can reduce the chance of getting sick. Let's move on to this gentleman in the middle then. And so he says to me, well, you know what? I think that the flu vaccine made me sick. So this is a little different. He's saying that the flu vaccine itself made him sick. And this is something a lot of people think. They think, well, maybe I was fine, and maybe it was only after getting the flu vaccine that I got sick. And this can be a very frustrating thing to feel. I mean, that's horrible that you were feeling fine, and then a vaccine came along and made you feel awful. But a couple of facts have to come to mind. So one fact, for example, is that we know that the flu vaccine cannot give you flu. So we know flu vaccine does not cause flu. That's a fact. And the reason I can say that with certainty is that one of the two vaccines is actually dead. Remember, there's the TIV and then there's the LAIV. The TIV is a dead vaccine, meaning the virus inside of it is dead. And the LAIV-- that's the other option-- this one is alive, but it's very weak. And so usually with this one you might get a runny nose at best. And so, if he says, I think that I got sick from the flu vaccine, I would say, well, I don't think that's possible from this one, right? If you got the injected version, then that's not possible at all. And if you got the live version, then you may have gotten some symptoms, but we wouldn't call that the flu. And I would also say that if that weak vaccine made you sick, can you only imagine how you would have felt if you had the wild virus, the one that circulates and we're trying to protect you from? What's much more likely for this gentleman is that he probably got sick from maybe this copycat virus, one of the other viruses that are circulating, probably around the time that he had the flu vaccine. So he mistakenly thought that the vaccine made him sick when it was probably just another virus. Or maybe he got sick when he was still within two weeks of getting the vaccine. Because, again, we said before that it takes a couple weeks to really get up and running. So in the top right, now we have this guy and he says to me, well, you know what? I hate pain. And this is probably my excuse. This is the one I used to use a lot. I hate pain. And I hate getting vaccines because usually that means a lot of pain. So for folks like this, and again, this was my own mindset, I say, OK, well, if pain is what you're trying to avoid, think about the fact that flu, getting sick with the flu, is much, much worse than getting a sore arm. And that's the most common side effect people talk about with that TIV vaccine, the dead vaccine. And also, if you get the other vaccine, the live vaccine, then I would say, well, flu is still a lot worse than getting a runny nose. And that's the most common side effect that people talk about with the live vaccine. So when you think about the common side effects, flu is much, much worse than the side effects you get with the vaccines. So we come down to this lady in the bottom right. She says to me, well, you know what, Dr. Desai? I think you're a nice person, but I really don't trust vaccines. I don't think that they're safe, and I don't trust what's inside of them. I think that there is something dangerous about them. And specifically, I don't like, she might even say, thimerosal. Thimerosal is something that people talk a lot about. And it's found inside of some of the flu vaccines. And so that's what she's referring to. So, in response, it's tough. It's tough to talk about issues if you're not trusted. And so the first and easy thing to say is, well, if you really just don't trust thimerosal, some of the flu vaccines, the single-dose kind of vials of flu vaccines, they don't even have thimerosal. So single-dose vials don't have thimerosal. So that's kind of an easy solution, right? If that's her biggest issue or concern, then you can just say, well, fair enough. That's an easy fix. And sometimes that works. Sometimes that's good enough and people say oh, OK, well, if they don't have it, then I'll go ahead and get the single-dose flu vaccine. But for others that simply just don't trust vaccines in general, because they've heard about thimerosal, or they've heard about autism, things like that, there I think it's really helpful to just discuss where these things come from. Where did this whole idea of thimerosal or autism-- where was it born? And the truth is that there's a complicated history to that. And there's a huge thimerosal myth that has been born and people discuss on the internet. And so I'll talk about thimerosal myth and the facts behind it because that's the only way to garner a little bit of trust with folks, is to actually discuss the facts. And actually separately from this video, we have a thimerosal video that you can watch and understand as well.