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.

Friday Five – Links to Love – Hotober edition

Apple Picking 15

It’s October, and you know what that means – cool, crisp days, fires in the fireplace, scarves and boots, hot apple cider … Oh wait. I live in LA, and that means it’s ONE HUNDRED DEGREES today. I’m always irrationally mad at Southern California for ruining my favorite season. I’m sure you’re all tired of me bitching about the weather, so the good news is that this is probably the turning point, and that some time in the foreseeable future I may again be able to wear clothing with sleeves. Now on to the links to love:

1. From the Archives:

Now that it’s October proper, I feel like we can indulge in unabashed pumpkining. I’m totally going to make this pumpkin pie french toast this weekend, and pretend that it feels seasononal.

2. Speaking of Seasonal…

If the change of seasons and the end of the stone fruit has left you feeling a little bit lost, you might want to check out this fantastic seasonal produce guide from the LA Times. It’s California-centric, but roughly accurate for the rest of the country, who are mostly getting fruits and vegetables from California anyway.

3. They Say It’s Your Birthday…

One of the reasons I love October despite being a native Californian with all the potential for awful weather that implies is because it’s my birthday month! I’m going to ignore the gray hair, and take a page from the Nuni’s book to focus on … presents! One of the things I’ve become moderately obsessed with this year is these absolutely chic ear pebble earrings from Catherine Canino.  I love that combination of classic and modern, and they could really be worn with everything.  (PS, they’re also available – and aptly named! – at Anthropologie.)

4. The Vaguely Literary Link

Because part of my raison d’etre is to be a book blog. This is only very tenuously bookish, but will delight Shakespeare nerds and other followers of Elizabethan culture. Modern song lyrics rewritten in the style of 16th century sonnets. A sample:

“All eyes are fix’d upon thee, most entranc’d-/thy coronation as the Queen of Dance!” — Abba

5. The Semi-Serious Feminist Article

Only this one’s all sexy. Have you guys been watching Outlander on Starz? You all know I’ve been a fan of the books since I read the first one (in college! I was 20!) and the TV series does not disappoint.  Created by Ron More (who also created BattleStar Galactica), it’s a little slow-paced, but makes up for it with gorgeous scenery, authentic period details, fine acting, and eye candy.  Lots of eye candy.  This article from Maureen Ryan (Huffpo’s TV critic) helps explain what feels so FRESH about the series – it’s sexy times!  For women!  The women aren’t just getting raped and fondled (ahem, Game of Thrones – I love you, but I don’t love that about you) – they’re (and by “they”, I mean “she” because there’s still only one real female character) getting their jollies on!   That sounds very salacious, but I promise you, it’s a good read.


We have family in from out of town and I have my book club this weekend, so there will be much gadding about.  What are you up to this weekend?   

xoxo, Kate

Sunday Night Apple Cake with Brown Butter and Bourbon

Easy Apple Cake


We went apple picking this weekend, which means I have about 20 pounds of apples in my kitchen, which means this easy apple cake recipe is going to be made again soon.

Apple picking is one of those things I used to miss most about living in the northeast.  From the first autumn Ken and I were dating (16 years ago now!)  we used to climb into a car (first a tiny blue Ford Festiva, later a zipcar), drive out into the country, and see some beautiful color and pick apples.  When we moved to Southern California, we thought our New England apple-picking days were done.  But, as I described three years ago, we were mistaken.

It took us three years to go back (a delay I attribute squarely to a curly-headed imp we call Typhoon Bootsy) but we’re glad we did.  As we were driving through the Inland Empire (such a glamorous name for a less than glamorous place), listening to the incessant chatter and music of our delightful children (Bootsy is perfecting his Ozzy Osborne version of Kumbaya), we realized that the apple orchards are just as close to us in Los Angeles as they once were in New York.  We pulled up to Stone Pantry Orchards (trees laden with apples!  Close enough to the ground that even the littlest one could pick!)  and proceeded to fill a bag.

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Promoting Your Blog – How to Start a Blog Part 5

Publicize Your Blog


This is part 5 in a 5 part series on How to Start a Blog. This post will deal with promoting your blog, managing your blog, and growing your readership. Also see Part 1 – Choosing a Blog Name, Part 2 – Choosing a Platform and a Blog Host and Part 3 – The Basics of Blog Design and Part 4 – Creating Great Blog Content.

I feel a little bit like a fraud writing this, because obviously I’m not some huge blogger with huge readership, and clearly, The Pioneer Woman should really be writing this post.  (I’ve heard her give the speech – it boils down to “Be Yourself!”  which apparently works well if you are the redheaded wife of a wealthy Oklahoma rancher but the rest of us might need a little help.  Another variation on this is, “Write great content, and people will come.” NO!  There are thousand of great blogs out there without a ton of readers.  Honestly, a big part of your blog really taking off is timing and luck.  Sorry.)    But truly beginning bloggers often have NO IDEA how to get anyone besides their mom to read their blog, and I can give you a few tips.
Continue reading Promoting Your Blog – How to Start a Blog Part 5