It’s flu season! That means runny noses, body aches, fevers/chills, cough for seven to 10 days…ick! Lucky for you, influenza shots are now available so you can be armed and ready for the next few months. A lot of people wonder whether or not they should get the flu shot. Well, let me share some statistics with you:
– Between 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year.
– An average of 200,000 people are hospitalized every year because of the flu.
– 3,000 to 49,000 people will die each year due to flu-related complications.
– In 2009, influenza and related pneumonia was the 8th leading cause of death in American men.
– Flu season usually peaks in January and February.
– It takes about two weeks after the shot to develop antibodies against the flu.
How effective is the flu shot? Every year, there is a very smart group of people at the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that tries to guess (a very educated, heavily researched guess!) which strain of flu is most likely to cause most cases of flu for the following season. They take the four (or three, depending on which type of flu shot you get) most likely strains, and put it in the vaccine. Luckily for us, even different strains of influenza tend to be related to each other, so even if the strain in the vaccine is not the exact same strain that is spreading through the community, chances are pretty good that you will still have some protection against the flu. Even though it is still possible to get the flu after receiving the flu shot, your chances of having serious complications (bronchitis, pneumonia, death) is decreased significantly.
The majority of people who will have life threatening complications of the flu are people over 65 and also babies under six months. It is highly recommended that if you spend a lot of time with anyone who meet these criteria, you should be vaccinated to protect your loved ones! Children under six months are too young to be vaccinated with the flu shot, so it is especially important that if you live with a a sweet little peanut under six months old, you should be vaccinated to protect them!
Caution: myth debunking ahead! The flu shot CANNOT give you the flu. I repeat, the flu shot CANNOT give you the flu. If you happen to get sick soon after getting the flu shot, it’s probably purely coincidence. This is the fall and winter season and there are lot of other viruses floating around that can give you cold symptoms and fever. If you get the flu after getting the flu shot, you were probably one of the few unlucky ones who picked up a different strain than what is covered in this year’s flu shot.
The CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months get their flu shot. It is protective and may save your life or the life of someone you love. Remember to stay away from people with symptoms of influenza, and wash your hands frequently! Stay healthy, get your flu shot!
The seasonal flu vaccine for both adults and children is now available at Rush-Copley Medical Group offices. Schedule yours today with your physician! If you want any more information on the flu vaccine or influenza in general, please visit www.rushcopley.com/rcmg/services/flu-vaccination/ or www.cdc.gov.