2019-2020 Influenza Season: Should I Get the Flu Shot?
The days of warm weather in New England are coming to an end. The leaves will soon be turning, the temperatures are dropping, and the stuffy noses and chapped lips are coming. As many of us know, flu season peaks in the fall and winter months. Millions of people get the flu every year, severe cases can lead to hospitalization or even death. It’s important to protect yourself and your family against the flu, and getting the flu shot is the best way to do so. Here is everything you need to know about how the flu shot works, why it’s so important, and who should get it.
How the Flu Shot Works & Its Effectiveness
It’s a common misconception that getting the flu shot can cause you to get the flu, but this is not true. It’s important to be informed about how the flu shot works and why it is so effective. When you get the flu shot, your body develops antibodies about two weeks after receiving the vaccination. An antibody is a blood protein that, in simple terms, fights off germs and stops intruders from entering and infecting the body. By getting the flu shot, your body now recognizes the virus and can quickly develop these antibodies to fight off infection from the influenza virus.
An annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu. The CDC performs studies each year to measure the effectiveness of the flu shot. The most recent studies show that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting the flu by 40%-60%. The 2018-2019 influenza vaccine was found to decrease the risk of getting the flu by about 46% for adults and about 62% for children between 6 months and 17 years old. Getting the flu shot helps to prevent millions of doctor visits and hospital stays. For example, in 2016-2017 the flu vaccine prevented 2.6 million influenza related medical visits, and 85,000 hospital stays.
Importance of Getting the Flu Shot Every Year
Specific influenza vaccines are offered each flu season to protect against the current, most common influenza viruses. To make the flu shot most effective, every February the World Health Organization evaluates which influenza viruses are most likely to circulate in the upcoming flu season. The World Health Organization then informs vaccine manufacturers which strains the flu vaccine should contain. Since the flu vaccine is updated annually, it is so important to get the flu shot every year so that your body is prepared to fight off this season’s most common influenza viruses. It is recommended to get your flu shot before the end of October to best protect yourself from getting the flu.
Who Should Get the Flu Shot?
As recommended by the CDC, everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot every flu season, with rare exception.
There are groups of people that experience higher risk of influenza, for who it is especially important to receive the flu shot. This includes pregnant women, adults 50 years and older, immunocompromised persons, and caregivers of children and people with medical conditions.
Pregnant women may experience more severe symptoms and/or complications from influenza, specifically during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. The flu shot can be given at any point in time during pregnancy, or postpartum. If you are pregnant, think you may be, or are a new mother this flu season – be sure to get your flu shot.
Adults age 50 and older are more susceptible to influenza, and are at higher risk of experiencing more severe symptoms, hospitalization and even death. The majority of deaths from influenza occur in people older than 65 years old. This is due to the immune systems of older adults becoming weaker with age.
Immunocompromised persons also have weaker immune systems and/or a range of conditions that may cause higher risk of severe infections. Therefore, protection by getting the flu shot is important. For immunocompromised persons, it may be beneficial to consider the timing of receiving the influenza vaccine. For example, before or after an immunocompromising intervention.
It is extremely important, and in some circumstances a requirement, that caregivers of children, and caregivers of people with medical conditions receive the flu shot. This is to protect both themselves and the individuals they are caring for from getting the flu.
The influenza virus can be extremely dangerous, but by getting the flu shot annually your chances of getting the flu will decrease significantly. Now that you have an understanding of how it works and who should get it, protect yourself, your family, and your community by getting the flu shot today. You can just walk in to any ConvenientMD location to get your flu shot – no appointment needed! To learn more about getting your flu shot at ConvenientMD, click here.
Did you know, that ConvenientMD will be donating $1 to a local charity for each flu shot given September through November? See the list below to find out which charity your local clinic will be donating to!
Plainville, MA – The Friends of Plainville Seniors