For some, the decision to get the flu vaccine becomes a battle between should I, or shouldn't I. But for others, the flu vaccine is a yearly ritual that provides comfort they will not get the flu. The CDC states the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, but it is your best shot in preventing the flu ... or is it?



Even though people have succumbed to the flu after receiving the vaccine, the media, CDC and doctors continue to state it is the best medicine. The mayor of New York admitted to getting the flu even though he received a flu shot but remains committed to the yearly flu vaccine.



The CDC attempts with educated guesses and data from past flu season to determine the most effective vaccine for the upcoming year. The effectiveness of the decided chemistry is not known until the end of the flu season or if at all.



The media, hospitals and pharmacies strongly encourage a flu vaccine. Some hospitals have fired employees who refused the flu vaccine.



Rather to get the flu vaccine or not is an individual's choice and should not be a forced decision. Media outlets have failed to report the potential side effects related to the flu vaccine. The reports only claim the protection against the flu not the fact some have been paralyzed or suffered severe allergic reactions from the vaccine.



Recently, the side effects of the vaccine became more evident after seeing an individual receive the flu vaccine at a pharmacy in a local supermarket.



As a nurse and a public health advocate, I was concerned how bloodshot the woman's eyes became after the injection. Concerned of a possible allergic reaction, I lingered in the area for some time. Surely, the pharmacist would have known what to do if the woman had indeed experienced an allergic reaction. Red eyes is one of the side effects of the flu vaccine but can also be a sign something more severe is happening.



After carefully weighing the benefits versus the side effects, each person must decide whether to receive the flu vaccine or not. Improving the immune system is the first step to preventing the flu. Exercise, healthy diet and avoiding sugar will strengthen the immune system. Research indicates optimal vitamin D levels increase the body's chance of fighting the flu virus.



Common sense plays a role in preventing the flu and the spread of the virus. Therefore, until a vaccine with a 100 percent effectiveness is developed, wash your hands.



Sylvia Williams
Destin