Get informed before getting a flu shot

I was so glad to see the article published in the Oct. 26 paper by a doctor regarding flu shots. Having been in the public school system for 20-plus years, I faithfully got my flu shot every fall, not only to protect myself from the flu but also to help protect the children I daily came in contact with.

The CDC and the media do a really good job informing the public of the need to be vaccinated. And now they are urging parents to get their children vaccinated even as young as six months. But before you do, please read on.

On Dec. 30, 2012, after having flu-like symptoms for two days, I collapsed and was taken to the hospital. The first question I was asked was if I had received the flu shot within the last six to eight weeks. I responded that I had and they immediately started me on an IV thinking I was simply dehydrated. But after two days of deteriorating health, further tests revealed that I had Guillain-Barre Syndrome. And like the majority of the public, I had never heard of this disease. I was in the ICU unit, totally paralyzed, only able to open and close my eyes for 16 days and on the ventilator for 10 days. I spent the next three months in the hospital rehab unit retraining muscles and organs to work again. And after many months of hard work and prayers of family and friends, I am now able to walk using a cane. I am still in therapy and getting stronger each day. But I will never forget how frightening it was not only for me, but also for my family to go from being completely normal one day and then totally paralyzed the next day. Nor can I forget the helpless feeling of lying in a bed unable to move to speak. I had a lot of wonderful doctors, nurses, and therapists at a local hospital who were very encouraging and would not let me become discouraged and quit, even when I would grow tired.

Is there any proof that the flu shot caused my illness? No, but there is no proof that it didn’t either, but I was told to never get another flu shot or pneumonia vaccination. Is it possible that it simply weakened my immune system making me more susceptible to the Guillain-Barre virus? No way to know that either. I am just urging people to think and consider all possible consequences before automatically rolling up your sleeve and getting the flu shot this year. People need to become more informed and make a decision whether to get a flu shot or not because of what they determine they need, not based on what the media urges the public to do.

Lois Cline