Nearly all of us have experienced flu symptoms—a cough and sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue, fever, body aches and more.
Frankly, the flu feels awful.
A flu shot can help prevent you from experiencing the flu this winter. But surprisingly low numbers of Americans line up for their flu shots each year. In fact, according the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 42 percent of Americans received a flu shot during the 2011-2012 flu season.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive an annual flu shot.
We see hundreds of people suffering from the flu in our Salt Lake City and Draper offices each month during flu season—typically fall through early spring each year. So we’re offering 5 reasons why we recommend our patients get a flu shot each year.
Reason #1: You Can’t Get the Flu from a Flu Shot
People ask us this question all the time: “Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?” The short answer is “No.”
A flu vaccine injection contains only viral proteins but no live flu virus. While some people experience pain in the arm where they received the flu shot, and may develop a low-grade fever, the shot has not given them a case of the flu. They are simply experiencing a short-term reaction to the flu vaccine.
A flu shot does not make you contagious, either. So someone who receives the vaccine will not transmit the flu to family members or co-workers.
Reason #2: The Flu Vaccine is Safe for Pregnant Women and Young Children
Many people wrongly believe that the flu vaccine is not safe for pregnant women or small children over 6 months of age. That’s a myth.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women should be vaccinated against the flu. The organization states, “No study to date has shown an adverse consequence of inactivated influenza vaccine in pregnant women or their offspring.” (click for source)
Reason #3: The Flu Strain Changes Each Year
A flu shot isn’t a one-time vaccination; you need to renew your shot each year to improve your immunity. For instance, a flu shot in the fall won’t protect you from the flu the following fall. That’s because your immunity decreases throughout the year.
What’s more, the flu virus strains that circulate mutate and evolve each year. That means that while your flu shot may have protected you from specific flu strains last year, new strains are in the mix this year. An annual flu shot is the best way to protect you from constantly changing strains of the flu virus.
Reason #4: The Flu Kills
Many people wrongly assume that the flu is inconvenient but rarely serious or deadly.
The CDC reports that between 3,000 and 50,000 people in the United States die of the flu each year. That’s a sobering statistic and you don’t want to count yourself in that group.
Perhaps more surprising, more than 200,000 people are admitted to hospitals each flu season and between 15 million and 60 million cases of the flu are reported annually.
A flu shot is a smart way to protect yourself and improve your odds that you won’t get a case of the flu.
Reason #5: Flu Shots are Inexpensive and Reduce Health Care Costs
Flu shots are widely available at health care clinics, grocery stores, pharmacies and even many offices. Flu shots are relatively inexpensive—often $25 or less. That’s a small price to pay in comparison to missing multiple days of work with a case of the flu.
Getting a flu shot also helps you do your part to reduce health care costs. For instance, most people will pay more than $25 to visit a health care clinic and much more if you are admitted to an emergency room with flu symptoms.
A flu shot (or flu spray if you’re afraid of needles) is an affordable and convenient way to protect your health and the health of others.
Get Your Flu Shot Each Year
Our Salt Lake City ENT doctors are committed to promoting the health and well being of your patients and we strongly recommend you get a flu shot each year. Use the Utah Flu Vaccination Locator tool to find a flu shot location near you. And call the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522 for an appointment if you have flu symptoms.