Every year, influenza epidemics cause 1 billion infections and between 300,000 and 500,000 deaths worldwide. Sadly, the majority of these incidents could be avoided if people just got a flu shot, so why don’t they get vaxxed?
Most adults hesitate because they are worried about the side effects of the vaccine. Others just don’t believe the vaccine is as effective. Yet, while by no means perfect, the injection is safe for most healthy populations and offers significant protection against the seasonal virus.
This year, it’s more important than ever to get the flu shot. Here’s why:
1. Increase immunity to prevent disease
More than four in ten Americans don’t plan to get a flu shot this year, which means those who aren’t vaccinated are more likely to contract the virus and get sick. In addition, the flu virus is constantly changing, and your body’s immune response naturally weakens over time. An annual and updated vaccine is therefore necessary to ensure continued protection.
Modern influenza vaccines also protect against several types of influenza, which can boost overall immunity and provide superior protection during the fall and winter months. In fact, 99% of those who received the 2020-2021 flu shots received quadrivalent vaccines. These offer more protection against infections than a trivalent vaccine.
2. Reduce hospitalizations and deaths
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that during the 2019-2020 influenza season, 400,000 were hospitalized and 22,000 died from the virus. That same year, vaccines prevented 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations and 6,300 deaths. Getting vaccinated is crucial to reducing hospitalizations and deaths in healthy and vulnerable populations.
In addition to reducing death rates, the vaccine can also free up hospital beds and preserve healthcare resources for patients with other illnesses and conditions, including COVID-19. This way, people who need immediate medical attention get the help they need and you stay healthy and without expensive medical bills.
3. Minimize the risk of cardiac events
Experts warn that it is possible to catch COVID-19 and the flu simultaneously, and the health implications are not yet clear. However, they do know that even without the influence of COVID-19, patients with heart disease and other cardiovascular disease are at increased risk of complications from the flu.
From heart attack to stroke, these people can experience major heart events. Fortunately, getting the vaccine can lower their risk of getting sick and one of these life-threatening complications.
4. Protect your loved ones
Most people are eligible to receive a flu shot. However, vulnerable populations such as infants and immunocompromised people may not be able to receive injections. In this case, they are at the mercy of others and decide whether or not to get the vaccine. If you are unable to arm yourself, you could easily pass the disease on to a loved one who could suffer serious consequences.
Do your part to protect yourself and others by getting vaxxed. If you choose to do so, your decision will also strengthen herd immunity. When a sufficiently high percentage of the population receives a vaccine, the risk of the disease spreading throughout the community and the planet as a whole is reduced.
Get your vaccine
Most doctors recommend getting your flu shot by the end of October, before the flu season begins. However, it’s not too late to take your photo, so there’s no time like the present to schedule a date and tick it off your to-do list. Contact your health care provider or local pharmacy, health department or emergency care clinic to find free vaccines near you and get ready today. This way you can stay safe and healthy throughout the season.