Preparing for Flu Season, Part 1: Should I Get the Flu Shot?

Preparing for Flu Season, Part 1: Should I Get the Flu Shot?

Flu season is about to rear its ugly head, starting in October and lasting through the beginning of the spring season. Nearly 1 million Americans were hospitalized over the course of last year’s influenza (“flu”) season, making it more critical than ever to be vaccinated with the flu shot. The flu isn’t just an inconvenient illness – it also caused 80,000 deaths last year.

Why it’s Important to be Vaccinated Against the Flu

Every year, a new vaccine is developed to protect people against the 3 or 4 different flu viruses that emerge during flu season. The vaccine is at least 50% effective in any given year, sometimes as high as 65% in other years, which is significant. The flu shot helps protect millions of people from what is a time-consuming illness that costs millions of dollars to treat every year. Even if the flu vaccine “fails,” the flu that results is often far less severe, so it provides partial protection, which is valuable, too.

Getting the flu shot is also socially responsible, as it can protect others. The flu is not just a bad cold. It is more than that. The vast majority of people don’t die from colds, unless they are immunocompromised. The flu, on the other hand, can kill people of any age, as it comes on much more quickly and forcefully than a cold.

How Does the Flu Vaccine Work?

Like other vaccines, the flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body that ward off the virus. You should be vaccinated before the flu virus starts to spread in your local area, because it takes about 2 weeks for the flu shot’s antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection against the virus. The antibodies provide protection against infection, and unlike the myth that the flu shot can actually cause the flu, these antibodies are not live.

What Are the Benefits of the Flu Shot?

There are a number of reasons you should get the flu shot, including:

  • It helps keep you from getting the flu. The flu shot is about 50 to 65% effective in preventing flu, and those who still get the flu usually have a less severe illness.
  • Flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalization among people of all ages, but particularly among children, working adults, and seniors. One 2014 study found that flu vaccines reduced children’s risk of needing to visit the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) by 74% during the flu seasons from 2010 through 2012.
  • It protects others. Those who are more vulnerable to flu illness, such as infants, young children, seniors, and those who are immunocompromised, can be protected through herd immunity.

It’s critical to be vaccinated against the flu. Read our upcoming blog to learn more about facts versus myths on the flu shot. Contact us if you would like to learn more by calling .

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