It is that time of year again. Summer is fading. The temperature is starting to drop and we are already seeing cases of influenza (Flu). It is time to get your flu shot (influenza vaccination). Each year I write about the importance of getting this easy preventative measure. In my office starting in September we try and make sure that every patient is vaccinated. An ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure.
Over the years I have heard every excuse for why patients don’t want to get this important vaccine. Let’s start by just acknowledging the facts.
- Influenza kills.In bad years as many as 50,000 people die from flu.
- Influenza can put you in the hospital. In bad flu years, as many as 700,000 people are hospitalized.
- You can’t get influenza from the flu vaccine.
- An egg allergy does not mean that you should avoid the flu vaccine.
- Getting your flu vaccination reduces your risk of getting flu by about 50%. Some years more and other years a bit less.
- Patients with heart and lung problems are at increased risk for dying from influenza.
Some of my other favorite excuses for not getting a flu shot are:
- I don’t believe in vaccines. Flu vaccination is not like the Easter bunny or Santa Clause. It is science. You really don’t have to believe or not believe.
- I get sick each time I get a flu shot. You simply can’t get influenza from the vaccination. You may feel pain at the injection site and a bit achy or run down. You might even have a low-grade temperature for a day or so. This is not influenza. If you do get flu after getting a vaccination it’s simply bad luck and it means that you were exposed to someone with flu around the same time.
- I never get sick. I don’t need a flu shot. By this logic then you should not wear a safety belt or lock your front door either. The essence of prevention is doing something before you get sick. (For the record I recommend both wearing your seat belt and locking your front door as well.)
In healthcare we spend so much time, energy and money treating diseases, the failure to take small measures that can prevent illness is hard to understand. So, protect yourself and your loved ones and get your flu shot.
If you are under 65 years of age then either the quadrivalent or trivalent flu shot are good. If you are 65 years or older then we recommend the high dose flu shot.