Flu shots still best defense against flu

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Drug stores have had signs heralding the 2018-19 Flu Season for weeks. Meanwhile, if you’ve visited your doctor recently, he or she has most likely reminded you to get your flu shot in a timely fashion this year.
However, notes the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], there continues to be widespread reluctance, based on indifference and fear, among Americans to be immunized against the flu. Most years only about half of those who should seek protection get a flu shot. As a result, too many at risk individuals, including elderly Americans, succumb to influenza and too many of them die.
Last year’s flu season was bad. The U.S. government recently released estimates that 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications. That’s the disease’s highest death toll in at least four decades.
A factor in those deaths is that the vaccine didn’t protect effectively against the flu strain that was most prevalent. That’s why it’s important progress be made toward developing a more effective universal flu vaccine.
However, last year’s flu season was exceptionally long. It lasted from October 1, 2017 and continued until nearly the end of April 2018 and caused some 30,453 laboratory-confirmed hospitalizations of flu victims, most of whom were 65 years old or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
So, why don’t more of us embrace the flu vaccine as an established preventive measure?
Perhaps the most senseless misconception people might have is that they need not be vaccinated every year to be protected. The most important reason for getting a shot every year is the simple fact that in the course of a year the vaccine loses its effectiveness. In addition, the makeup of the flu virus, itself, changes each year so a new vaccine needs to be produced annually. And, that is why the CDC strongly recommends that, ideally, everyone, six months old and older should be immunized at the onset of flu season.
Some people when asked will say they don’t get a flu shot because they never get sick. That’s great, but it also is no guarantee. Just find a person who used to have that anti-shot philosophy who then got the flu, and you probably have just met a vaccination convert. The flu kicks hard if you catch it.
Beyond the concern about yourself is that if you aren’t vaccinated you endanger people who are too young to be immunized or can’t be, including those with compromised immune systems. So what you do or don’t do when it comes to flu shots affects those around you. The more people vaccinated, the safer the general population as a whole. If you didn’t know that, now you do.
And if helping out others, including newborns, isn’t convincing enough, consider that flu costs the nation about $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity among working-age adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although last year’s vaccine was not as effective as health officials wanted it to be, it could have lessened the severity of some cases. When you consider that most health plans cover the vaccine or that free or low-cost options are available, it doesn’t make sense to not get vaccinated if you can.
And, if the truth about the flu be told, it will be told by the Centers for Disease Control, which says get a flu shot as early as you can in the season because it is the best way to help protect you.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox