If you’ve ever had the flu, you know what a nightmare it is and you’re all too familiar with many of the reasons to get a flu shot this year. The flu can sideline you for days (or weeks) leaving you weak, exhausted, unable to function, and clutching your pillow for dear life. If haven’t had the flu, then trust us. It. Is. Bad. You don’t want it. Especially not during the upcoming holiday season when your loved ones need you.
Yes, Ebola is currently the virus that everyone and their mother is freaking out about, and rightfully so. It’s scary. But so is the flu. According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thousands of people die from the flu each year in this country with numbers ranging from a low of 3,000 to a high of 49,000 depending on the severity of the disease in a given flu season. Which makes the flu vaccine more crucial than ever for anyone over six months old. “People at highest risk are better protected if those around them are also protected,” says David Cennimo, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The bottom line: the flu vaccine is a lifesaver. Here are 10 reasons to get a flu shot for yourself and your entire family this year.
1. The Many Faces of Influenza
If there were only one form of influenza virus, you’d only need to be vaccinated once. But influenza is always changing and each year the flu vaccine is adjusted to combat the strains that are predicted to be most common in the upcoming season.
2. Over 65
Those over 65 have even more reasons to get a flu shot because they have a much higher risk of developing complications from the flu.
3. Influenza Can Be Fatal
Anyone who has had the flu knows it’s much worse than a case of the sniffles. While some cases may be fairly mild, severe cases can require hospitalization and can result in death.
4. Nasal Spray
If you hate needles then one of the best reasons to get a flu shot is that you don’t even have to get a shot. The nasal spray form of flu vaccine is considered effective for healthy people between the ages of 2-49. Even better news for little ones—the nasal spray has been found to be more effective than a shot for children age 2-8.
Besides the illness itself, influenza can result in serious complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections. It can also worsen chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
6. It’s Safe
Despite what you might hear, flu vaccines are incredibly safe and effective. If you are allergic to eggs, you should talk to your doctor about what type of vaccine is best.
7. The Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Give You the Flu
True or false? When you get the flu shot you might contract a mild case of the flu because the vaccine puts a small amount of the disease into your body. FALSE! Yeah, our moms lied to us too. Although you may experience flu-like symptoms for a day or two after being vaccinated, this is not the flu.
8. Equal Opportunity Illness
Yes, infants, the elderly and anyone with a weakened immune system are at greater risk should they contract the flu because they may suffer serious complications that a young, healthy person could fight off. But literally anyone can get a severe case of the flu, even a young, perfectly healthy individual.
It’s a pain in the butt to get sick and it’s a strain on your wallet too. Medication isn’t cheap, doctor visits don’t come free, and typically people can miss a week (or more) of work when they get the flu. It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and it’s definitely an expensive way to spend your days of feeling like crap.
10. Protect Others
If you get sick, it’s not just you who suffers. Aside from the fact that you won’t be able to help care for your family, you also put them all at risk by exposing them to your germs. Influenza is an airborne virus and you can be contagious before you start feeling sick. If none of the other reasons for getting a flu shot convince you, consider that you could be putting your loved ones, coworkers and anyone who is immunocompromised at risk.