Turtle to Turbo Speed: Flu Shot – Will She Or Won’t She?

Turtle to Turbo Speed: Flu Shot – Will She Or Won’t She?

Four months down and four months to go until marathon day, or as I call it, “when the real suffering begins.” As the marathon draws closer and the countdown to flu season begins, we’ve had many office discussions about whether or not a flu shot is in order when training for a marathon. It’s so easy to get one these days unlike last year when the H1 N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine was in short supply. You can use the iTriage app to find the closest urgent care, retail clinic or physician anywhere in the country and healthcare providers seem to have plenty of flu vaccine this year. All that discussion left me with questions, like:

Is the immune system of a marathoner better than the normally active person?

Does extensive running stress the body to a point that the body is more susceptible to flu?

Does it hurt? (Despite what some people think, pain is something I really don’t enjoy.)

So, I started doing some virtual surfing to answer those questions and make an informed decision. Of course, the first thing I find is this television news segment from last year about a young, female runner who got a flu shot and then became that “one in a million” person who had an adverse reaction to the flu. The vaccination seemed to have triggered something in her neurological system. She now struggles to walk, talk and eat. The neurological disorder is called dystonia.

Well that almost closed the book for me, but vaccinations all have risks and one in a million is a long shot chance something would happen, so I searched for more ways I could avoid getting the flu vaccine.

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Keep Your Immunity High

While the vaccine is the best way to avoid flu, considering that I hate pain from needles, I looked at the other practices that could help boost my immunity. Fortunately, running falls in that mix. Other practices include:

Hand washing

Eating healthy

Adequate sleep

Consistent exercise

Okay, three out of four isn’t bad. I fall short in that whole hand-washing thing, but I have the other three nailed.

When Immunity Plummets

According to , after a marathon, your immune status will be depressed. So, isn’t it logical to believe that with the stress of training for a marathon one would also encounter a depressed immune system? I do know that for some odd reason, I’ve always gotten a cold sometime in the month before a marathon. Apparently marathoners can also easily get colds, flu and other upper respiratory tract infections in the days and weeks following a marathon, though I’ve not encountered that before.

Obtaining More Flu Information

If you have questions on where to find the vaccine, download iTriage on your smartphone for the closest provider. For general questions about the flu, please check out our ongoing flu series blog, written by emergency physicians.

Final Flu Shot Decision

So, as I psych myself up for the second half of training, I’m trying to get past the whole “one in a million” and needle pain thing to summon the courage for a flu shot. Find out next month whether I chickened out or put my best arm forward.

In the meantime, be sure you “like” the iTriage Facebook page and signup to guess my “leave it all on the asphalt mile time” to win an iPad. You have until October 27 at noon (mountain time) to place your guess!

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