It’s Flu Season! Should You Get a Flu Shot?
Every year, around this time, you’ll see ads for flu shot offerings. Many people end up getting the vaccine, but there’s still a large portion of the population who avoid them. If you opt to avoid the flu shot, you likely have your reasoning. Loosely, this may be a dislike of needles or simply not thinking it’s important. Your rationale behind skipping the flu shot may be entirely valid, but today, we’re going to look at a few reasons to reconsider this opinion.
You Want to Enjoy the Fall and Winter
Generally, flu season runs from October to February, though it can start earlier and last longer. That gives a lot of time for you to catch the flu. It is one of the most contagious common illnesses as there are many different ways you can contract the germs. Any contact with loved ones, friends, or even the mailman may be enough to get sick. Strangely enough, contact with a sick person isn’t even necessary to get sick. Just touching something infected is enough.
The flu is one of the most contagious common illnesses as there are many different ways you can contract the germs.
The flu shot greatly limits your chances of catching the flu, so you won’t become one of the 9.2 to 35.6 million annual cases of flu in the United States. Even if you catch the flu and were you vaccinated, studies show that your likely to experience weaker symptoms. This peace of mind allows you to enjoy the fall and winter months, whether that’s attending a fall festival or a town holiday party! Five months out of the year is just under half. Don’t miss out on fun because of the nagging worry about becoming sick.
You Are an At-Risk Demographic
If you’re a senior, you have an extra reason to get a flu shot. Generally speaking, there are six demographics that are considered to be at high risk of serious flu complications. These include:
- Children five and under
- Adults aged 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
- Native Americans and Alaskan Natives
- People with certain chronic illnesses
If you fall into one of these demographics, complications from serious flu illnesses can include pneumonia, dehydration, myocarditis, encephalitis, multiple organ failure, and even death.
If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you likely fit into one of those demographics. Since our immune system naturally weakens with age, seniors have an incredibly high risk of not only catching the flu, but also developing one of the severe complications. This makes getting the flu shot and taking other preventative measures not only important, but essential.
You’re Around At-Risk Demographics
Another reason why the flu vaccine is important has to do with the people around you. By not getting your vaccination, you run the risk of getting others sick. Now, if you’re mostly surrounded by healthy, young adults, their possibility of catching the flu is inconvenient, but not life-threatening. Though, this is not the case for people in high-risk demographics. You may feel fine and think there is no danger, but according to Harvard Health Publishing, 20 to 30 percent of people carrying the virus have no symptoms. This can make you a silent carrier, unknowingly putting at-risk loved ones in danger.
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Each year, there are millions of cases of the flu in the United States, with a vast number of those cases resulting in a trip to the hospital, or worse. It is understandable if your aversion to the shot is due to a fear of needles. Trypanophobia is a real condition. But, with the advent of a nasal flu spray, you can still protect yourself and others. It’s as effective as the shot, but without the needle!
If you’re ready to get the flu vaccine, there’s no time like the present. It takes the flu vaccine about two weeks to become active, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October at the latest. An easy way to get vaccinated is to make an appointment with your doctor, but you can also get the flu shot at local pharmacies and stores. Check out the CDC’s Flu Vaccine Finder, embedded below, to find a provider near you!