9 reasons to get a flu shot today
By: Lynn Gaffney, RN
Protecting my family, friends and patients from influenza – or “the flu,” as we commonly call it – is a big priority for me. It only takes two days or less to come down with this seasonal disease after you’re exposed to it – and it can be serious for anyone, regardless of health status. Every year, the flu leads to a number of hospitalizations and deaths, even among healthy people.
Since anyone can get sick and suffer complications, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. And the very best way to protect yourself is to get that flu shot as soon as it becomes available in the fall.
Why is getting vaccinated sooner rather than later better? Because we can never be certain exactly when the flu will strike in our area – and after getting your flu shot, it still takes roughly two weeks for the immunity you gain to fully develop.
Now that flu shots for this year’s flu season are available, here are 9 reasons to get yours as soon as possible:
1. It’s easy
Throughout flu season, we have walk-in flu shots at Amery Hospital & Clinic, Clear Lake Clinic, Luck Clinic and Turtle Lake Clinic. You can stop in anytime during regular clinic hours to get your shot – no appointment needed. Just check out amerymedicalcenter.org to see when we’re open and swing by at a time that’s convenient for you. (You can also make an appointment to get the flu shot at any of these clinics, if you’d prefer.)
2. The flu shot is often free
For most, there’s no cost to getting a flu shot. Per Affordable Care Act guidelines, health insurers are required by law to fully cover flu vaccinations. That means there will be no copay and no coinsurance for a flu shot if you have health insurance. If you don’t have insurance, check with your clinic for your exact cost.
Many are surprised to learn how serious the flu can get when left untreated. If you come down with serious flu complications, a trip to the emergency room will cost much more than a simple flu shot would have.
3. The vaccine can’t give you the flu
The flu vaccine contains inactive germs, which means it’s impossible to get the flu from your shot. Despite this fact, myths surrounding flu shots still exist.
Side effects from getting a flu shot include achy muscles, and every once in a while a slightly elevated temperature. Bottom line, you won’t get sick even though you might experience minor side effects, such as a sore shoulder.
4. It can protect you from heart trouble
If you face heart disease or have a history of heart problems, the flu vaccination may reduce your risk of a future cardiac event. A 2013 study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association found that getting the flu shot was associated with reduced risk of stroke, heart attack or worse.
5. You’ll cut your flu risk in half
The CDC reports getting the flu vaccine effectively cuts your chances of contracting seasonal influenza by 50 percent. Because flu strains change and evolve over time, the vaccine won’t ever be perfect. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth getting vaccinated. Ask anyone who has had a serious bout of flu in recent years, and they’ll tell you that any protection from the flu is better than no protection at all.
6. You’ll drastically reduce your child’s risks
The CDC reports the flu vaccine reduces children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by 74 percent. Your best bet at keeping your kids out of the hospital in a flu-related incident is getting them in for a flu shot now.
7. You can pass the flu to others without getting sick
The flu can be especially dangerous for the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems.
Sure, if you skip the flu vaccine there’s a chance you might not get sick. But that doesn’t mean flu germs won’t pass from you via your phone, keys, door handles and hands to loved ones or total strangers who may not share your strong immune system. Getting the flu shot trains your immune system to fight these germs, eliminating the risk of you carrying it to loved ones unknowingly.
8. The flu shot is a marvel of modern medicine
Throughout history, plagues, pandemics and diseases were impossible to prevent. In fact, it was just over 100 years ago that one of the worst flu pandemics struck, negatively impacting millions globally and changing the course of World War I.
Lucky for us, we now have access to dozens of modern vaccinations that keep us safe from tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, measles and of course, the flu. The flu shot is a marvel of modern science protecting millions from widespread flu outbreaks each year. We’re part of history each time we choose to get vaccinated.
9. Last year’s vaccine won’t protect you this year
Like any other disease, the flu evolves. Building up immunity to one strain doesn’t mean you’re safe from the many new and changing strains floating around.
Each year, the CDC and the World Health Organization perform rigorous testing to determine which strains of influenza pose the highest threats globally. The flu shot changes each year based on this research. Which means even if you had your shot last year (or have survived past waves of the illness), you will need to get vaccinated against the flu this year, too.
Ready to get that flu shot?
When you get the flu vaccine, you give yourself and everyone else around you the best shot at staying healthy. If you have any more questions about getting vaccinated, possible side effects or pricing, give your nearest clinic a call: