Do I REALLY need to get the flu shot?

Thomas Foraker, NP-C & Stephanie Breault, NP-C; Firelands Clyde Urgent Care

Influenza, or better known as the flu, is a virus that causes fever/chills, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, cough, watery eyes, and sometimes nausea. The flu virus mutates every year which is why you can have the flu multiple times throughout your life and even multiple times in the same year.

But the problem isn’t just the flu virus, it’s the complications that can arise from the flu that are dangerous as well. These complications include bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infection, and even a heart attack. Per the New England Journal of Medicine, you are six times more likely to have a heart attack when diagnosed with the flu. 

The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent yourself from getting the flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and even the risk of flu related death in children. A total of 185 children died from the flu during the 2017-2018 flu season. Approximately, 80% of the deaths were in children who had not received the flu vaccine. 

Also, getting the flu vaccine can save your life, especially if you’re older than the age of 65, have chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, COPD, or if you’re a smoker. Having any of the above chronic diseases places you at a higher risk for developing dangerous complications from the flu, leading to hospitalization or even death. 

Not only can you protect yourself from the flu by receiving the flu vaccine, but you can also protect your family and friends from getting the flu. How does this work? Well there is something called community immunity. Community immunity means the majority of a population is vaccinated against a particular virus, such as the flu, thus reducing the entire community’s risk. This is especially important for babies who are younger than 6 months, as they can’t be vaccinated. Thus, parents and other family members can protect babies, as well as other vulnerable people, including immunocompromised or people with chronic disease when getting the flu vaccine. 

Please talk with your primary care provider about any questions you may have about the flu vaccine. It can save you or your loved one’s life. 

FAQ 

Can you get the flu from the flu vaccine? 

You can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine, it is not possible as the virus in the vaccine is inactive. 

Isn’t it too late to get the flu vaccine you may be thinking? 

No, in fact, you can even still receive the vaccine in January. 

Who shouldn’t get the flu vaccine? 

Anyone under the age of 6 months and anyone who is allergic to eggs. Anyone with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should talk with their primary care provider. If you have any concerns about receiving the flu vaccine, you should always talk with your primary care provider.

How effective is the flu vaccine? 

Recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by 40-60% for most years.

What flu viruses circulated during the 2017-2018 season? 

Influenza A (H3N2) and Influenza B, however influenza A was much more prominent. 




References

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1702090