5 Reasons You Should Get the Flu Vaccine This Year
Cold and flu season is underway, which means if you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, it’s time to head to your local pharmacy or doctor. Getting the flu vaccine can help you avoid getting ill, and potentially losing days away from work, school — or even worse, ending up in the hospital.
If you haven’t yet gotten vaccinated or are questioning whether you even should, here are five reasons to get the flu vaccine this year.
1. Because the flu virus changes every year
Even if you got a flu vaccine last year, you’ll need to get another one this year. Why? Because different strains of the virus emerge every year. The annual flu vaccine, which allows the immune system to build up antibodies that kill the virus and reduce the likelihood of infection in the body, is seasonal. This means it’s designed to be most effective for the strains of the virus that are circulating this flu season.
Though some vaccines last several years, the flu vaccine isn’t one of them, so you need to get vaccinated every year.
2. Because you’re vulnerable if you’re young, elderly or pregnant
The flu is more likely to make people with compromised immune systems really sick, including infants, pregnant women and seniors. Research has shown that getting the vaccine reduced the risk of flu-related respiratory infections by half in pregnant women and the risk of their babies contracting the flu by 50 percent, as well.
Seniors also are at risk of serious complications if they get the flu, and so are infants. Chronic conditions such as asthma, heart or lung diseases, cancer, obesity and kidney and liver disease, among other illnesses, also can increase your risk of complications from the flu. Avoiding the vaccine is not worth the risk, especially if you are in a high-risk group.
3. Because you could end up in the hospital — or worse
During the 2015-16 flu season, more than 310,000 million people were hospitalized because of the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also estimates that 12,000 and 56,000 people have died every year since 2010 because of the flu.
4. Because even if you get the flu, you likely won’t be as sick
Vaccination not only reduces the likelihood that you’ll get the flu, it also can keep you out of the hospital because it reduces the severity of the infection and potential complications if you do get the virus.
5. Because you’ll keep other people from getting sick
And by other people, we don’t just mean your spouse or kids. The more people who are vaccinated, the less the flu can spread throughout the population.
If you’re a teacher, daycare worker or healthcare professional, you may already be required to get the vaccine. But anyone else who comes in contact with any of the high-risk groups I previously mentioned, should get the vaccine.
Getting the Flu Vaccine
A lot of people avoid getting the flu vaccine because they think they won’t get the flu or because they feel the vaccine is unnecessary. However, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get sick, so it’s better to be cautious. Cold and flu season will last for the next few months, and health experts says this year’s flu season could get really bad.
Last year, only 47 percent of the U.S. population got vaccinated, but these numbers should be a lot higher. Protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu this year by taking the time to get vaccinated. You won’t regret doing it, but you could regret not doing it if you do get sick or wind up in the hospital.
For more information on where to get the flu vaccine, visit the CDC’s website.
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