Uh oh! Dr. Offit had better file for a new organization called "Mainstream Columnist Science Foundation" to combat this wicked column by Joe Queenan in the Wall Street Journal HERE. It's likely written tongue in cheek - you can take it any way you'd like. It's just very interesting.
They Shoot Flu-Shot Skeptics, Don't They?
By JOE QUEENAN
Two weeks ago, at the insistence of my wife, I went and got a flu shot.
I am one of those people who hates getting flu shots because I subscribe to the addled, scientifically insupportable, just plain stupid myth that if you get a flu shot you'll get the flu. But because my wife runs a senior-citizen center—pro bono—in our town, I understood that it would look bad if I did not get a flu shot. It would lend credence to the scientifically insupportable and fundamentally idiotic myth that getting a flu shot will give you the flu.
Three hours after I got the flu shot, I started to feel sick. Headache, mild sore throat, rasping. I mentioned this to a friend and she snapped, "You can't get the flu from a flu shot. They use dead flu virus in the serum they inject you with. It's just a coincidence." The next day I felt worse, and the next day, and the next. Each time I mentioned the flu shot to friends, they got really defensive and said that I must have already been incubating a nasty cold, because the flu shot could not make me sick. They referred me to assorted websites where I could get more information. They made me feel like a moron for even suggesting that there might be a connection between the flu shot and my deteriorating physical condition.
Five days later, fully prone at death's doorstep, I went to the doctor.
He told me that I had a throat infection and an eye infection, and that my ears didn't look so good, either. He wrote me prescriptions for cough syrup, antibiotics and eye drops. When I mentioned how weird it was that I got sick—like, really sick—right after the flu shot, he laughed as if I were a four-year-old.
"You can't get sick from the flu shot," he chided me. "The cells in the flu serum are dead."
"So it was just a coincidence?"
"Yes, just a coincidence."
All these days later, my infection is abating, but only slowly. I still feel terrible. I still can't sleep. I still have headaches and a sore throat, and I can't clear my lungs, and I'm coughing a lot. But I'm not mentioning my wretched condition to anyone anymore. I'm tired of the abuse. I'm tired of being singled out as a flu-shot agnostic. There's something about questioning the efficacy of flu shots that automatically puts you in the same category as climate-change deniers. People hate it if you say anything bad about flu shots; it's worse than saying that you believe in the Laffer Curve.
"If you got a flu shot and then won the lottery, you wouldn't think you won the lottery just because you got a flu shot," sneered one friend, quoting a popular website. "It's just a coincidence."
"You don't take care of yourself, and then you blame the flu shot," said another.
"You already had a cold when you got the flu shot," my wife insisted.
"If I already had a cold, why would I agree to get the flu shot?" I fired back.
"You don't always think things through," she suggested.
Let me be clear on one thing: I do not seriously believe that my hideous illness that has now dragged on for more than 10 days is connected in any way, shape or form with my getting that flu shot. The science is clear on that. And I certainly don't want to be responsible for old people in my town getting really sick or dying because they deliberately didn't get a flu shot after I perpetuated some imbecilic myth. I don't want blood on my hands.
So I'm letting this thing go. I got a flu shot; I got really sick; it was all a strange coincidence. Still, next year, come flu-shot time, I'm going to start coughing and wheezing and hacking and spewing a few days before I'm due for my shot, so my wife will let me take a pass. I'm not afraid of needles, I'm not afraid of my wife, and I'm not afraid of the flu. But I'm deathly afraid of coincidences.