Healthy adults often forget one of the most important things they can do to protect their health: Get a flu shot. Seven reasons you may not have considered:
▪ Because you don’t have an extra week of vacation. Not counting the week you’ll take off staying home with your children.
Influenza (flu) is a virus that causes respiratory illness primarily between November and April. The virus mutates every year, showing up in multiple strains and causing chills, muscle aches, congestion and cough. The flu lays you out on the couch, leading to lost work, missed school and extra clinic visits. Many healthy people go on to have sinusitis, bronchitis and wheezing. Annually, more than 3000 Americans die from influenza.
▪ Because that baby is priceless.
Flu is more dangerous for children under the age of 2, and especially those under 6 months. Children are also more likely to have serious infections like pneumonia and be hospitalized. If you are pregnant, the vaccine is safe and particularly effective because it allows you to share your antibodies with your newborn.
▪ Because BSU is headed for a bowl game.
Holidays filled with family gatherings, vacations and school concerts are guaranteed to increase your exposure to the flu when it is in town. How miserable to spend the holidays being sick and miss cheering on your favorite football team.
▪ Because the chance of a serious allergic reaction is extraordinarily low.
I recommend flu vaccine to all my patients over 6 months and their families. The only exceptions are people who have had a life-threatening reaction to the flu vaccine or its main ingredients: gelatin and eggs. The rest of us are likely to have a sore arm and some mild aches. Influenza vaccine is available at your primary care clinic, neighborhood urgent care and local pharmacy.
▪ Because grandma is coming to visit you, not the ER.
Many grandparents these days don’t act their age, keeping up with the busiest children. However, the majority of serious illness and death from influenza occurs in their age group. And forget about asking them to baby-sit on New Year’s Eve if your children give them the flu.
▪ Because you will want Tamiflu when you get sick.
If you will want treatment, why not just prevent the disease? The vaccine is less expensive, covered by most insurances, with fewer side effects than antiviral medications like Tamiflu. Better to schedule a quick visit when you feel well, than languish in a waiting room during peak flu season.
▪ Because you are part of a community.
Belonging to a community means taking care of everyone, especially the most vulnerable members. If more people are immunized there will be less total illness. Each of our clinic staff gets the vaccine to protect our patients. Please join us in caring for our community this season by getting your flu shot.
Dr. Angela Beauchaine is a pediatrician with Primary Health and a member of the Idaho Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.