Protect Yourself and Others with an Annual Flu Shot
Why getting vaccinated benefits you and your community.
Many people take a “come what may” attitude concerning seasonal flu, preferring to forego an annual flu vaccination. Some are healthy, active adults while others are parents who have questions or concerns about vaccine safety. What few people realize is that the decision to avoid a flu shot can have a domino-like effect on friends, coworkers, family members, even entire communities. In fact, health experts say diminished “community immunity” can lead to flu epidemics across population lines.
Community immunity is the natural outcome when a sufficient portion of a community gets their annual flu shots. When this occurs, even those who haven't been vaccinated escape infection because there are fewer people who can transmit the virus. Children and working adults are often considered the primary “spreaders,” since they typically have the most contact with others and can pass the virus onto their friends, teachers, coworkers and families.
Community immunity or “herd protection” is important because it protects those who are most at risk for flu-related health complications. People 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, young children, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, chronic lung disease, neurological problems, or individuals with a compromised immune system are all at high-risk for catching the flu. When large numbers of people go unvaccinated, the most vulnerable members of society have an increased chance of becoming seriously ill.
Still not convinced the flu vaccine is for you? Here are several established reasons for getting your flu shot scheduled right away:
The flu can make you seriously ill.
Contrary to popular belief, the flu is a serious illness that can lead to pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when combined with pneumonia, the flu is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. The most effective way to combat such frightening statistics is to get vaccinated.
The flu can hurt your wallet.
In this economy, few can afford lost wages due to illness. But a bad case of the flu can last for days, causing fever, chills, headache, cough and sore muscles. If you are a parent and spread the virus to your kids, expect to miss work even longer while caring for them.
The flu can be very dangerous for people over 50.
People 50 years of age or over should get a flu shot, and so should those who interact with them. If you don’t get immunized to protect yourself, consider parents, grandparents and others who might get sick by being around you.
A flu shot is safe.
Flu shots are safe and effective. And when you get a flu shot you help yourself and those around you stay healthy. By avoiding the flu, you avoid giving it to friends and family.
With the idea of community immunity in mind, some healthcare professionals believe flu vaccinations should be viewed as less of a personal decision and more of a larger social obligation. Informing people of the risk they pose to others if they choose not to be vaccinated is a missing piece in many doctor/patient discussions, but it’s an important one.
The flu virus changes each year and even those who got a vaccine last season will want to protect themselves by getting a vaccine this year. Expanded flu vaccination guidelines from the CDC urge everyone aged six months and older to get a flu vaccine. The reason is simple: Flu vaccine saves lives.
Flu season lasts from October through March. Schedule your annual flu shot today.