A primer on “the flu”

via: Jon Crosbie    February 2 at 7:02pm

Okay, I made the mistake of reading the comments section in a post, and now I feel compelled by duty to my profession to type this out. Please, share the hell out of this, because people need to know this stuff.


Here’s how the Flu Vaccine works. Actually, to understand how the flu vaccine works, you need to understand how your immune system works. Your immune system fights disease by remembering *every* single disease you’ve ever seen in your life. Seriously – every one of them. Your body makes antibodies in response that “tag” things to be destroyed by white blood cells.
If it helps, think of antibodies as the blue ink that explodes if somebody tries to steal something. Now we all know who the thief is.

Your body can crank out antibodies at a moments notice to any disease you’ve ever come into contact with – tag the offending bacteria or virus and your white blood cells come in and the offender dies a horrible death.

Vaccines work by “training” your body’s immune system. Now, there are *two* types of vaccines…inactivated, and live/attenuated. Inactivated vaccines are essentially the protein coat of whatever you’re trying to vaccinate against. “Live/Attenuated” vaccines are viruses or bacteria that have been weakened.

If it helps, think of your body’s immune system as an army. Giving an inactivated vaccine is like holding up the uniform of an enemy soldier in front of your body’s immune system and saying “See this? Everybody? You go seek and destroy everybody wearing this.”

Giving a live/attenuated vaccine is like finding an enemy soldier, beating the crap out of him and putting *that* in front of your body’s immune system and saying “See this guy right here? You go beat the hell out of anything and anybody who looks like him.” Now, if somebody’s immune system is compromised, the beat up bad guy can still cause a lot of damage which is why people who are immune-compromised can’t get live/attenuated vaccines.

The Flu Vaccine is *inactivated*. It’s dead. It is nothing more than the protein coat of influenza with all of the DNA removed. It is an empty shell of a uniform.

Here’s why you have to get a flu shot every year: The flu changes it’s protein coat on a regular basis. The flu has fashion sensibilities not unlike ours – the flu changes it’s “look” every year. Basically, at this time next year, the flu is going to be wearing a different uniform. Now the CDC and all sorts of scientists try to predict what the flu will be “wearing” from year to year and, yes, sometimes they get it wrong because this job is REALLY FREAKING HARD. I couldn’t do it. I once predicted JaMarcus Russell was going to be a good NFL quarterback, so my predicting is pretty bad. Trying to predict, replicate, and mass produce a flu viruses protein coat over about a 4 month period seems to be one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in the United States.

You can’t get the flu from the flu shot. You could get an immune response…I’ve had one of those. I’ve also had the flu. The two aren’t even *close* to the same thing. Not the same ballpark, not the same league, they ain’t even the same bleeping sport. I got the flu in 2005 and it was as sick as I’ve ever been and lasted a month. I got an immune response in 2010 and it lasted 12 hours and required an extra blanket while I watched Monday Night Football.

This is how the flu shot works. This is how your immune system works. If you were lucky enough to be gifted a healthy immune system, you were gifted one of the most amazing things that exists. Vaccines help your immune system do it’s thing better. This isn’t fake news, it isn’t alternative facts, it’s the truth.

End rant.

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