Here’s why everyone should get the flu vaccine: the flu is a serious illness that can cause severe illness, days lost from work or school, hospital admission, and even death. The flu vaccine is the absolute best way to prevent the flu. Even though you can still get the flu after receiving the vaccine, people who do so have a less severe illness. In addition to protecting yourself, you can help prevent the spread of the flu to family, friends, and coworkers by getting an annual vaccine each fall.
According to the CDC, since 2010 there have been between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations per year and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths per year from the flu in the USA. That means that 100’s of people die from the flu in each state every year. Most of these deaths are preventable with a simple, safe vaccination.
The flu vaccine is a killed virus, it cannot cause the flu. It exposes a person’s immune system to proteins from the flu virus so that person can fight off the natural flu virus when exposure occurs. Because the immune system mounts a response to the proteins in the vaccine, patients may experience mild flu like symptoms for a day or two after the vaccine. Severe reactions to the vaccine are very rare and much less likely than severe illness from the flu.
The CDC recommends annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Pregnant women and people with chronic illness including asthma are especially prone to severe complications from the flu, the vaccine is even more strongly recommended for these folks. The flu vaccine has been shown to cause greater than 50% reduction in hospitalizations from the flu in people with chronic illnesses including lung disease (asthma) and diabetes. It has also been shown to decrease the risk of flu by 50% in newborn infants when the mother was vaccinated during pregnancy. Furthermore, a study published in 2017 in Pediatrics found the flu vaccine resulted in a 50% reduction in deaths from the flu in children with chronic illness and a 65% reduction in death from the flu in healthy children.
The flu vaccine is a simple, safe, injection that saves lives. Getting the vaccine will help you, your loved ones, and your community.