Should vegans get the flu shot?

November 19, 2010

Today’s question comes from Sami, who was wondering about veganism and the seasonal flu shot – thanks Sami!

Some links from the video: we talked about vaccinations for vegan-raised children over on Spawn Better, and the word from science is that plant-based vaccines are on the way.  Seriously, plant-based stuff is going to win pretty much every time – it’s cheaper, more predictable, and more reliable, but it takes time to implement systems that can generate millions of doses (the egg-based vaccine infrastructure is 50 years old!)  This won’t avoid the animal testing issues, but that’s the case for basically all medicine, as I understand it.

The usual disclaimers apply here: this isn’t medical advice, yadda yadda yadda, but I’d love to hear your opinions.  Did you get a flu shot?  Has your opinion on them changed since the H1N1 pandemic?  Let us know in the comments!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda November 20, 2010 at 6:17 am

It’s great to hear that we will one day have a vegan-friendly version of the flu shot. I only started getting them when my job began requiring them during the H1N1 scare, even though I have never in my life even had the flu.
When it comes to other vaccinations, such as those for children, I am definitely on the “pro” side. Even though not all of the shots are plant-based, I think the greater good is keeping our children safe from preventable diseases. Hopefully one day all vaccinations will be animal friendly!

Erin November 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Everyone in my house (me, baby, husband) all get the flu shot because my husband has Cystic Fibrosis. I would have preferred wait for the little one to get it, but I completely respect the doctor’s opinion that we need to protect my husband because he is so high-risk and a flu could be life threatening for him. Before he and I moved in together, I never got a flu shot.

Colleen November 21, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I don’t get the flu shot and wouldn’t, in my current circs, even if I weren’t vegan because 1) I don’t have a compromised immune system; 2) I don’t live or work or spend time with anyone with a compromised immune system. I’m into less pharmaceutical influence in life, so this one’s a no-brainer for me. That said, if I were working with or living with others who were vulnerable I would of course get it; I’d have to think hard about 1) though.

Haley November 22, 2010 at 9:25 am

I don’t get the flu shot, never have and never will. I don’t get sick often and I do my best to avoid doing so by washing my hands and not licking snot out of infected peoples noses. 😀

I don’t do this because I have any deep seated like or dislike about them medically….I am just insanely terrified of needles. The last time someone tried to give me one they had to hold me down and I kicked the poor male nurse in the cookies. I was a fun kid.

Zen Mama November 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I never get the flu shot. In fact, I didn’t even get the H1N1 vaccine, nor did my kids. However, this weekend I had the flu & it was bad. In the rare moments when my head was actually out of the toilet, I was very much regretting my mother’s advice to get the flu shot. It terrible that they are not vegan yet, but it’s hard to lead a proud vegan lifestyle when you’re bed-ridden.

Isabelle December 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I have a specific issue with the H1N1 vaccine. I had H1N1, but my paranoid mother made me get the shot anyway. I wish I hadn’t. H1N1 was completely blown out of proportion. I didn’t read the ingredients before getting the shot, and it is quite a regret of mine. Millions of sharks were killed for their liver oil to put in the vaccine. As a proud shark activist, I am completely appalled by this! Sharks are endangered, and they were all killed for this!
In canada, many provinces wouldn’t even test healthy people between the ages of 12-60. Because they knew that they would be cured by the time the test results got back.
As a vegan and a shark activist, I am very angry at this.
In regards to the flu shot, I just turned 18, so for the first time in my life, I didn’t get the shot, to prove to my mother that it’s not all that important. And, of course, I am now sick in bed with the flu xP.
But I don’t think I’ll get it next year. I can deal with a week or two in bed, and I don’t have anything that requires me to get the shot.

Bob January 18, 2013 at 11:36 am

In reading through this thread there is a misconception about the purpose of flu shots and vaccines in general.

I don’t get the flu shot to keep me healthy, I get the flu shot to keep you healthy.

Just because you feel your immune system is good or because you are not in the risk groups (small children and the elderly) you can still be a carrier and spread disease. The flu, specifically, is an airborne illness so unless you are never around people, you are always around people who may have less than strong immune systems. Unless you wear a mask, the simple act of breathing is enough to spread diseases of this type.

Yes being vaccinated helps you, because it reduces your risk of infection, but the real purpose is to help society by reducing the number of carriers.

Katie October 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Do your research before getting the flu shot. Read about its mercury content, how ineffective it is, and that those with weakened immune systems cannot process the shot. There’s good research by both conventional medical practitioners and alternative doctors.

Loz August 21, 2014 at 6:27 am

I am vegan. Have been for many years now and have never ever gotten the flu shot. I usually get pretty rundown with the flu a few times a year and take a while to get over it. Last year I began working in health care so thought it wise to get the flu shot this year. This is the only year in my thirty years of life that I have not been sick with the flu… speaks for itself really.

I have been stuck on the whole “it is not vegan” thing for years but there comes a point when common sense comes into play and you have to do what you need to do for the sake of yourself and for public health. I cannot afford to get sick because if I get sick, I am legally not allowed to work and am forced to stay home until I recover.. As a casual employee I don’t get paid. I have to stay home because of the risk of passing this onto those with compromised immunity… and as a result someone doesn’t die because of complications arising from the flu.

Use your brain. Weigh it up in your own mind and based on your own situation and experience. In my personal opinion, I believe that in the interest of public health the flu shot is a very wise thing and still believe you can call yourself a vegan if you take it.

Rich January 18, 2015 at 8:31 pm

@Bob “I don’t get the flu shot to keep me healthy, I get the flu shot to keep you healthy.”

Thanks for the thought but you’re wasting your time. Cochrane Collaboration in Rome studied hundreds of RCTs and their conclusions were that there is zero evidence the flu vaccine prevents transmission and therefore zero reason to vaccine health care workers in long term care facilities that work with the elderly.

@Loz – “This is the only year in my thirty years of life that I have not been sick with the flu… speaks for itself really.”

Wow, you went to the doctor/hospital and had confirmation from a laboratory that you had influenza every year and not an ILI? The flu affects approximately 2.5/100 people annually, if you had the flu every year for 30 years with only a 2.5% of having the flu in the first place then you should start playing your local lottery!

@Loz – “and as a result someone doesn’t die because of complications arising from the flu.”

In addition the Cochrane Collaboration also found zero evidence that flu vaccines prevent complications.

Andi November 22, 2015 at 8:49 pm

I got my flu shot because I work with little children and there really are no subs for our school. If I am sick, I can get those little lambs sick and vice versa. I pray for the day that the plant based one is available.

Julia Dixon October 11, 2016 at 8:13 am

I am vegetarian and have never had a flu vaccine. I have had a few colds in my life but have had flu only once which lasted 3 days so may not have been flu. Fixed myself with honey and lemons and garlic and a day in bed.

Helen December 8, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Vegan vaccine Flublok, is the only egg-free vaccine on the market. It is the only vaccine which is recommended by CDC for people with egg allergy. This year it is available widely in United States. Check Flublok locator

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