Why You Should Get a Flu Shot

Flu Shot

image: U.S. Army Civil Corps of Engineers, Europe Division via Flickr

It’s that time of the year!  The time when we collectively go indoors and proceed to spend the next six months infecting each other with any number of upper respiratory illnesses.  You can stop (part of) the cycle!  Go get your flu shot!

Vaccines are in the news a lot lately  – measles and whooping cough are on the rise because of unvaccinated children.  I’m not going to go into childhood vaccinations (but really, vaccinate your kids!) but even reasonable adult people, who would never think TWICE about fully vaccinating their kids, don’t get a flu shot.  Why is that?

It takes five minutes.  It doesn’t hurt much at all – less than stubbing your toe.  It can protect you AND people you love from a terrible illness.  Sure, you have to repeat it every year, but why not?  It’s probably covered by your insurance, and many local grocery stores with pharmacies and pharmacy chains will give you a discount on your purchases if you get your flu shot there.  Get protected from the flu AND save 10% on your groceries!   There’s literally NO downside.

I see reasonable people throw out all sorts of reasons why they aren’t getting a flu shot.  None of these are good reasons.  Let’s look at them, shall we?

I don’t need a flu shot; I never get the flu!

You never get polio, either, and I bet you’re vaccinated against that.  Besides, there’s a first time for everything.

I don’t get a flu shot because one year I got the flu shot and I got the flu.

This is scientifically impossible.   Flu shots are manufactured from a deactivated virus.  You CANNOT get the flu from them.  (You can potentially get the flu from the nasal spray, but the potential is very, very slight because the virus is extremely weak).  What may have happened is that a) you were already exposed to the flu because you waited too long to get the shot and it takes two weeks to take effect or b) you caught a cold because (as I said above) it’s upper respiratory illness season.  A cold is not the flu.

I don’t get a flu shot because they don’t work!

Look, the flu shot isn’t perfect. The manufacturers make a calculated prediction of which strains of flu will be most prevalent in the upcoming winter. And sometimes they’re wrong. And even when they’re right, the efficacy is still 70%-90% in clinical trials. However, do you know what works less well than getting a flu shot? NOT getting a flu shot. Not getting a flu shot has 0% efficacy in preventing the flu. Also, there’s this thing called herd immunity. The more people who get a vaccine, the more effective it is in preventing the disease in a population, because fewer people are exposed to sick people. Let’s aim for that, shall we?

I don’t get a flu shot because the flu is not that serious.

You’re thinking of a cold. A cold is not that serious. The flu (not the stomach flu, which is something else) will land you in bed for a week, even if you’re young and healthy. And there’s the potential for serious complications, such as pneumonia, which land 200,000 Americans in the hospital each year and kill 36,000 people (according to the CDC). Plus, even if you are young and healthy, chances are that you meet people who are not. The flu is especially dangerous for young children and the elderly. Don’t you think it’s worth a stick in the arm to not kill children and grandmas? Yes, yes it is.

I don’t get a flu shot because there are dangerous chemicals in the shot

There’s more mercury in a can of tuna than in the flu shot, which is extensively tested for safety (as are all vaccines.) The chances of a reaction beyond a sore arm are extremely rare – FAR more rare than the chances of getting the flu and having serious complications. Driving to the supermarket carries with it far more risk than getting a flu shot. If you’re seriously concerned about mercury, they do make shots without it for pregnant women and children.

I don’t get a flu shot because it hurts too much.

Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. My seven year old is terrified of needles. It took three medical personnel to hold her down to administer her Kindergarten shots. But she now realizes that she should just suck it up. I’m sure you have as much maturity as a seven year old. Also, I already got my flu shot this year and I swear there was no sore arm for more than about 15 minutes. It’s light this year. I worked out the next day and didn’t feel a thing.

In short, get your flu shot. 15 minutes of a sore arm could save lives, including your own. At a minimum, figure you’re doing it for the good of society, and pat yourself on the back. It’s your good deed for the day! There’s literally NO downside.

Cold Zucchini Soup with Buttermilk – Too Much Zucchini, part III


Chilled Zucchini Soup

We have a zucchini plant in our garden this year.  Just one, as we have learned from years past that zucchini quickly becomes overwhelming.  Fried zucchini blossoms are one of our favorite summer treats, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get our hands on them is to plant our own zucchini plant.

Apparently, though, there is something mysterious in our soil because that one zucchini plant has grown to monstrous proportions.  It’s the tomacco of zucchini plants – each leaf is the size of a cocktail table.
We are diligent about seeking out the zucchini and picking them when they’re either still flowers or at a reasonable size, and we’ve been eating a lot of zucchini fritters and zucchini bread this summer.   However, occasionally one will escape our notice, hiding under a massive leaf, until one day we discover this Godzilla-zucchini, and have to figure out what to do with it.  They’re more watery and less flavorful than the little ones, and the seeds are enormous, too.

Giant Zucchini


Staring at these enormous zucchini this weekend, I was struck with inspiration.  What do you do with any excess vegetables?  Make soup.  But since it is July, and it is going to be 101 degrees at my house tomorrow, chilled soup is the game.

Continue reading Cold Zucchini Soup with Buttermilk – Too Much Zucchini, part III

2013 The Domestic Front Gift Guide: The Bibliophile Edition – Gift Books for Everyone on your List


Things have been quiet (read: busy) but it’s time to start counting down the days to Christmas. First up, a gift guide.

You’ve probably done most of your shopping already (or not. This is a no-judgement zone). But if you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for something else to round out your list. Despite my Kindle love (and I am, in fact a convert – one of these days I’ll write about my Kindle love and the library), there’s nothing like a book as a gift. Easy to wrap, lasts forever, doesn’t take up much room, and can be purchased at a cozy bookstore, which is almost never overrun with holiday craziness (or online. I admit to that, too. And if you haven’t joined Amazon Prime (2 day shipping!) now is the time to sign up for a free trial.) Here then, is my list of great gift books for 2013. (Links are affiliate links).

For your cousin who just got married and is learning to seriously cook with the fancy knives and brand new KitchenAid Mixer she has recently acquired:

The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

Why:  This book is a modern classic for a reason.  Judy Rodgers, who passed away this year, has written a cookbook that is not only a collection of (excellent) recipes, but is also a book that’s interesting enough to read cover to cover and a true primer on technique.  This book will make her a better cook – worthy of all those fancy pots.

For your husband, who follows the stock market for fun and actually reads corporations’ annual reports as if they were magazines:

Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders

Why: To quote my husband (who happens to read annual reports for fun): “You’re getting the collected wisdom of America’s greatest investor in real time.” (He also wanted me to point out that you can print these for free off the Berkshire Hathaway website.)

For your college roommate, who has been going through a tough time and could use a laugh and some empathy:

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

Why: Anyone who reads her genius blog knows that Allie Brosh is a wonder – she manages to be both poignant and hysterically funny at the same time.  The book is a collection of some of her best cartoons and some new material, but it’s all fresh and hilarious and so, so true.

For your gay BFF, who follows pop culture like it’s going out of style and will never leave New York because of Broadway:

Humans of New York

Why:  Anyone with a Facebook feed knows that the zeitgist has arrived, and it was photographed by Brandon Stanton

For your mother who loves to cook and who loves to travel, but tends to cook the same things and visit the same places over and over:

Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Why:  This is the best cookbook I’ve bought this year, maybe in many years.  The recipes are fresh and exciting – evoking the city that inspired them with beautiful photographs.  It’s a great book for the armchair traveler, but it’s also a great book for the cook – the flavor combinations are often surprising and always delicious.

For your curly-haired rosy-cheeked toddler, who learned animal noises before he learned any actual words and thinks every dog he meets is a friend:


Why:  with cute pictures of real dogs, a lilting, fun rhyme, and some basic pop up characteristics, this book is sure to be a hit. It also teaches opposites (big dog, little dog, neat dog, sloppy), and some preliminary counting.  In our house, it’s a great favorite, accompanied by cries of “Doggie!’ and “aGEN”.

For your precocious six year old daughter, who is balancing right on the cusp of kidhood, and is just now finding secrets to keep (and the ability to write them down):

Just for Me: My Ramona Quimby Journal

Why: Ramona is both timeless (I myself had a Ramona Quimby diary) and relatable, and you will get bonus hours of enjoyment reading your kid’s creative spellings.

For your book club buddy, who reads as much as you do, and has already read all of the obvious suspects:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

Why: Gaiman gets overlooked by the lit fiction set who are all busy reading Donna Tartt and Jhumpa Lahiri, but this is a gem of a book. Part horror story, part fairy tale, part psychological insight – you’ll want to read it and then have someone to discuss it with. Plus, it’s short, so you have plenty of time to read it before next month’s meeting – even with all the holiday madness.

For anyone at all: 

One Summer: America, 1927

Why:  Who doesn’t love Bill Bryson?  Funny and smart, he’s an excellent tour guide and dispenser of trivia.  This book covers baseball, gangsters, airplanes, the stock market – all with Bryson’s trademark wit.

Low Stress Entertaining and Bagna Cauda {Sponsored}

Bagna Cauda

I used to have a lot of anxiety about entertaining.  Having people over meant at least a day, if not two, of intense work and preparation. I don’t know if I read too much Martha, but a dinner party was a BIG DEAL. First there was planning a menu and shopping. Then I had to clean the house, including finding a hidden spot for the many, many piles of books and papers sitting around (Two lawyers in the family!  Never trust a lawyer without piles of books and papers. We attract them like magnets.)  Cooking an elaborate meal (meals to make in advance!), then scrubbing the kitchen, running and emptying the dishwasher (always start a dinner party with an empty dishwasher! Finally, we greeted the guests with a sparkling house, a set table, a tray of hors d’oeuvres, and utter exhaustion.
Continue reading Low Stress Entertaining and Bagna Cauda {Sponsored}