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A field medic's point of view on seasonal flu vaccination

A field medic's point of view on seasonal flu vaccination

I served in the army as a medic, and later as a senior medic, second-in-command to our battalion's physician. 

Every winter, we got crates of flu shots, to give to the troops. One of my medics asked me one year why should we vaccinate all those 18 to 21-year old soldiers, all healthy and strong, and give them these "unwanted side effects" (his words). I explained that the flu doesn't really differentiate with age, and although it is more dangerous to children and elderly, it still can incapacitate a soldier and prevent him/her from carrying out their roles. He didn't take me seriously but complied and went on vaccinating. 

The next winter, a sequence of events led to a situation whereby only half the soldiers were vaccinated. Two weeks later, out of the blue, we "got the flu". About half of the un-vaccinated troops fell with fever, sore muscles, cough, you name it, and the other half had partial symptoms, some more and some less. I can barely remember if there were more than 10 cases among the vaccinated half. The unit was in no way "combat ready", so we were replaced for the time being.

About a month later, after the last wave of the disease ceased and all our friends returned from their sick leave, this medic approached me and said - "OK. Now I get it. Next year let's make sure we get everybody vaccinated".

Last modified: 
Oct 26, 2017

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