Inevitably, every year around October, flu season descends upon the masses and doesn’t let up for months. From congestion and coughing to headaches and fever, one thing’s for sure — having the flu is no fun. The question is, do you need a flu shot?
The short answer is yes. You totally need a flu shot. It’s the best way to prevent contracting influenza — that nasty and contagious respiratory infection which can, in serious cases, lead to hospitalization or even death. According to the CDC, if you are over six months old, you should get the flu vaccine every season. It’s especially essential for pregnant women, young children, older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems or certain chronic medical conditions, as these groups are more likely to suffer flu complications. That said, every year, people with strong immune systems who are perfectly healthy will die of the flu. So doesn’t it make sense to do everything you possibly can not to get it?
Still, every year, there are people who resist. They feel that because they’ve never gotten the flu, they don’t need to bother with getting vaccinated now. Wrong! Just because you haven’t gotten it before doesn’t mean you won’t ever get it. Also, getting the shot means not only protecting yourself but protecting the people around you. No one wants to be the one who makes their boss sick, right? Even worse, you don’t want to be responsible for infecting someone who is immunocompromised or too young to be vaccinated. Being a good citizen means getting that shot. It takes two weeks to fully kick in, so the earlier in the season, the better. The shot not only reduces your chances of getting the flu, but it also helps minimize the severity of the symptoms if you should come down with it.
Some people fear that the flu vaccine might give them the flu, but that isn’t true. There are possible side effects, some of which may feel slightly flu-like, such as body aches or a low-grade fever. Those symptoms aren’t the flu, however. They’re just a side effect of your body churning out those all-important protective flu-fighting antibodies.
Many pharmacies offer walk-in flu shots, as do health clinics and grocery stores. Some employers give them out to employees, as well. Most insurances will cover the cost, and many places provide them for free. If you have a health condition or if you are not feeling well, consult your doctor before you get vaccinated.
So now you know — it’s easy and important to get vaccinated. And while you’re in a defeat-the-flu type mood, be sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water and avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes, as those are all germ portals for your body. And by all means, if someone within earshot asks “are flu shots important,” shout loudly and clearly that yes, they totally are!