My son Zack received a flu shot in December of 2003. About two weeks after, he developed neurological difficulties. Zack has been diagnosed with CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy), a chronic form of Guillain-Barre syndrome. There is no cure. Zack will be affected for life. As a result of his disease, Zack experiences chronic weakness and fatigue in his arms and legs, loss of sensation in his arms and legs, and gait abnormalities. Since this is also a type of auto-immune disease, Zack can never have any vaccinations again, as these may trigger a lapse. When he is not experiencing a relapse, he can move around on his own and do most of his activities of daily living. When he is having a lapse, he cannot use stairs, has trouble walking, and feels tired all the time. We have a wheelchair on hand as needed. He attends school part time. He is currently having his medicines changed, as he is no longer responding to steroids.
Why am I sharing this? After a lot of research and talking with many professionals, it is my opinion that the flu shot is not needed except by at-risk populations (infants, persons with chronic diseases, the elderly). It is more of a risk to take the shot than not. The incidence of flu and flu-related deaths is actually very low (see the CDC web site). The "flu warning" we hear every year is actually another ploy to induce a state of fear in the US population and give pharmaceutical manufacturers a boost in their profits. After all, if flu were that much of a danger, wouldn't our government protect us for free (like the proposed smallpox vaccinations)? In addition, there is no recourse available to persons who develop these neurological diseases as a result of the flu shot, even though the notice they give you at the doctors' offices says that the flu shot can cause Guillain-Barre. No one cares, and no one is going to help you financially if you lose your life's potential and get sick as a result of the flu shot. I say, don't get the shot. But if you want to, educate yourself before you get it.
For more information about Guillain-Barre and CIDP, visit http://www.guillain-barre.com/