Willing to play the odds of not getting sick this year? The best chance you have: by getting the flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends almost everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu shot. Here are the top reasons why you and your family should get vaccinated.
- Severe cases of influenza can lead to hospitalization—or worse. The CDC reports that between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from the flu annually, with roughly 85 percent of those occurring in people 65 or older. The 2017-2018 season was one of the worst flu seasons in 40 years, with an estimated 80,000 deaths attributed to the flu.
- Flu vaccines reduced children’s risk of flu-related hospitalization by 74 percent, according to a 2014 study.
- Vaccines benefit pregnant women and their developing baby. Pregnant women who received a flu shot reduce their risk for flu-associated acute respiratory infection by about half. The flu vaccine protects babies up to four months after birth.
- Last year’s flu shot doesn’t count. Your body’s immune response from vaccination decreases overtime. To keep your immune system working against the virus, an annual vaccination is necessary. “This is because viruses are constantly changing,” said Bill Meadows, MD, Chief Medical Officer. “The virus that went around last year might not be the same as this year’s. Scientists tailor formulation each year to target the year’s most prevalent strain of the virus. Yearly vaccinations decrease your chances of getting this year’s flu virus.”
- For those with chronic health conditions, flu shots have been shown to reduce hospitalization among people with diabetes by 79 percent and chronic lung disease by 52 percent.
- The odds are in your favor. Getting vaccinated decreases your chances of getting the flu between 50 and 60 percent. And if you do still catch the flu, a vaccine will reduce the severity of symptoms.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The flu can cause mild to severe illness. Flu spreads every year, however the timing, severity and length of the season varies from year to year. While the peak for influenza typically hits late December through March, the season can begin as early as October and last through May. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.
“Our urgent care centers offer the Fluzone Quadrivalent vaccine, which is designed to protect against four different strains of flu,” said Meadows. He also put a myth to bed: “No, you won’t catch the flu from vaccines. A flu vaccine is made one of two ways. Either the flu virus present in the vaccine is “inactivated” and no longer infectious, or there are no viruses present at all,” he explained.
Before having the flu shot, Meadows said it’s important to tell your provider if you have had an allergy to eggs or any of the ingredients in the vaccine, or if you have ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Urgent Team centers now have flu shots available – and most insurances cover the flu shot at no cost. “If you don’t have insurance, flu shots are only $30 and no appointment is needed,” said Meadows.
For more information on flu or to find an Urgent Team center near you, visit www.UrgentTeam.com.