I took my GRE exam two weeks ago in preparation for entering graduate school. The exam is now predominantly computer-based and taken in a small, contained room filled with several partitioned cubicles. I, like everyone around me, sat contently in her little cubicle, eager to get this exam over with. I was given “noise-cancelling” headphones that did little to reduce the sounds around me. No matter how much I willed myself to block it out of my mind, I just could not ignore the coughing that continued in the cubicles. On each side of me. Every few seconds, one of these lovely test-takers would attempt to hack up the phlegm remaining in their respiratory system. It bothered me to no end. I almost asked to be moved..but told myself, “They would just say you are making excuses. What if they had to claim your exam as null and void and you would have to start over??” And alas, I suffered through 4 1/2 hours of germs mercilessly surrounding me.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but absolutely everyone is getting sick. I hear sniffling and coughing and “I have the flu” this and “I am trying to break a fever” that. Simultaneously, my poor boyfriend has become ill with what is either food poisoning or a stomach flu. (And let me tell you, I am deathly afraid of stomach flus.) My mother is asking me, every day, when I am going to get a flu shot.
I haven’t received a flu shot as of yet in my life, and I’ll honestly tell you why. I once watched a national “Nightline” news story documenting a woman who got a routine flu shot and became ill with permanent neurological issues. She cannot function in a day-to-day life and cannot control some of her upper extremity muscles. Although I know this is a very rare occurrence, I must admit that it freaked me out.
Not getting a flu shot is actually isn’t something to brag about in my situation: my father, with whom I live, takes immune suppressant medications due to his kidney transplant history. If I carry any type of illness into the house, my dad has no defense against it whatsoever. We sometimes cannot attend Christmas parties when our family members bring one of my cousins to the party who “still has the stomach flu…but don’t worry! You’ll be fine.” um.
An illness severe enough can damage my father’s transplanted kidney. However, there are some people that argue against getting the flu shot, saying, “The flu shot is useless. It cannot protect against every strain of the flu out there. You’ll still get sick.” So..what do I do?
What do you do? Do you believe in getting annual flu shots for the winter season, or do you think they aren’t worth the time/money/exposure/etc?
For the record, I myself just came back from getting my flu shot. People can argue that it won’t do any good, and I’m still terrified of that young woman’s repercussions, but I can’t put my dad at risk. I just can’t. Here’s hoping the flu shot helps me too.