Each fall, flu season arrives right on schedule. And in preparation of the newest wave of influenza, doctors and other medical professionals recommend that everyone protect themselves by getting the flu shot. The flu vaccine is the easiest way to keep yourself and your family protected from this dangerous illness.
The flu can wreak havoc on anyone. This virus can be deadly for infants, children, and older adults – yet many people still choose to skip out on the flu shot every year.
According to the CDC, everyone who’s six months old or older should get an annual flu shot. And if you’re considering skipping this shot, you need to know just how important it is. Here’s why the flu vaccine is so important for absolutely everyone.
The Flu Shot Protects You and Everyone Around You
When you get a flu shot, it’s clear you’re protecting yourself and your health. But what many people don’t realize is that your vaccination actually protects a ton of other people too.
The flu vaccine stimulates your body, encouraging it to create antibodies that fight off the flu virus. So, any time you come into contact with the flu – when someone sneezes, when you forget to wash your hands, or even when you hug your kids – your body is ready to fight off those germs.
And this helps protect not just you, but those around you. Getting the flu shot protects your family, your friends, and others who you come into contact with every day. It essentially provides community protection, or herd immunity. You won’t spread the flu virus to others because your body will successfully fight it off before it becomes contagious.
And the more people who get the flu shot, the better the odds are for the general population. Widespread vaccination can slow or stop the spread of the flu, limiting its effect and keeping more people healthy and well.
The Flu Can Cause Deadly Complications
Most people have experienced the flu at least once in their lives. And many think it isn’t too bad – it’s a tough virus to battle, and it can cause vomiting, chills, and other awful symptoms. But after a few days, everything is back to normal.
Unfortunately, the perception that the flu is nothing to worry about is a dangerous one. The flu is so much more than the common cold or an annual virus.
Every year, approximately 200,000 people wind up in the hospital because of the flu. And the flu can kill – 80,000 people died from the flu during the 2017 to 2018 flu season. In addition to common symptoms, the flu can lead to dehydration, bacterial pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, and other potentially deadly problems.
If you have a chronic medical condition, like asthma, cancer, COPD, diabetes, or kidney disease, the flu could be equally dangerous. A preexisting chronic condition can increase your risk of flu complications, which can land you in the hospital.
And it’s important to remember that the flu virus changes every year. So, while you might’ve had a mild case in the past, your next experience with the flu could be far worse.
A Flu Shot Can Reduce Your Risk – And Your Symptoms
It seems like basic information, but many people who opt out of the flu shot do so because they’re concerned about its effectiveness. There are plenty of people who say they’ve contracted the flu despite getting vaccinated, and even more who believe the vaccine isn’t effective enough.
But the flu vaccine can be incredibly beneficial during cold and flu season.
The CDC reports the flu shot prevents millions from getting sick every year – an estimated 5.3 million people didn’t wind up contracting the flu thanks to the vaccine. Fewer flu-related deaths happen when many people are vaccinated, and there are fewer doctor and hospital visits too.
And while some people who do get their flu shots wind up getting the flu, they typically experience less severe symptoms. The flu vaccine is proven to reduce the severity of the flu in those who get vaccinated by still catch the virus.
Who Needs the Flu Vaccine?
Now that you know how greatly beneficial – and important – the flu shot is, it’s important to prepare for this year’s cold and flu season.
The flu shot is recommended for everyone. Any person who’s older than 6 months should get the vaccine. However, if you fall into one of these categories, the flu shot is especially critical:
- Anyone age 65 or older.
- Pregnant women.
- Anyone with asthma.
- Kids age 5 or younger.
- Adults living in nursing homes.
- Anyone with a chronic health condition.
- Those who’ve had a stroke.
Flu season lasts from October to May, and it’s a smart idea to get your flu shot early. It takes approximately two weeks for the body to build up an immunity to the flu after getting the vaccine. However, if you wait, you can still get vaccinated at any time.
If you’re thinking about your health during cold and flu season, it’s time to think about the flu shot. This annual vaccine, which is widely available, can help keep you and those around you healthy.