Of rhinos and flu

“So, Bob, did you receive your flu shot yet?”
“Doc, I don’t want one because last year that shot gave me the flu.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, 2 days after my visit I came down with a runny nose and a cough.”
“You mean you caught a cold.”
“That’s what I said, Doc, I got the flu.”
“Actually, you were infected by the rhinovirus, which is what causes the common cold. The flu shot is designed to reduce the risk of developing influenza, or flu, from the influenza virus, which is potentially much more serious.”
“What does a rhino have to do with this?”
“Rhino refers to the nose. Anyway, scientists try to predict which influenza strains will be prevalent in the coming flu season and develop a vaccine against three or four of them.”
“Well, last year that shot gave me one of them.”
“That’s impossible, Bob. The vaccine doesn’t have any live virus in it so you can’t catch the virus from the injection. You have a greater chance of getting a chicken to lay an egg after it has been put through a meat grinder than getting sick from the flu shot. Isolated dead viral particles are injected causing your body to create antibodies against the respective viruses. Imagine that you are on guard duty and something is approaching you but you aren’t sure if you should shoot or not. Having antibodies allows you to recognize the enemy sooner and destroy it before it’s too late.”
“Well, how do explain what happened to me last year?”
“The fact that you caught a cold around the time you received your vaccination was just chance. If by a stroke of bad luck you got into a car accident after leaving my office you wouldn’t blame that on your flu shot, would you?”
“Doc, now you are being ridiculous.”
“Okay, so after all that can I get my nurse to give you the flu shot? You are high risk due to your diabetes and COPD.”
“No, thanks.”
“Well, why not?”
“Doc, I’m not getting it because, as I keep telling you, last year that shot gave me the flu!”

David R. Richardson, MD. Of rhinos and flu. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 1, January, February, 2017, Page(s) 4 - Editorials.

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