Alas, there are still lots of people who don’t get a flu shot every year which is something I simply don’t understand in large part because the potential downside seems to be so terrifically small.
So, unless someone one day clearly shows that getting a flu vaccine can impact your health negatively in an important way – like for example, making you more likely to get some type of flu in following flu seasons (this potential problem is being vigorously studied, by the way) – the positives that we do know from getting a flu shot every year have won the day in a large way.
Why do I say that?
For a start, the flu can be a severe infection with huge potential complications such as pneumonia and death so it’s important to remind flu-shot doubters that every year the flu kills thousands of North Americans, usually the very young, the very old, and those with diminished immunity or who have certain chronic illnesses, but some seasons flu also kills the healthy and vigorous in large numbers.
And then there’s this key reason: Herd immunity, meaning that the more people who are immunized against the flu, the more protection the vulnerable have against the flu.
And finally, every year, we learn more advantages from an annual flu vaccine, such as this recent study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco which found that even though the overall flu vaccine effectiveness was only 52 % in the recent flu season, young kids who got a flu vaccine had half the rate of being hospitalized with flu-related illness compared to kids who didn’t get a flu shot.
This fall, do yourself – and the rest of us – a favour and get a flu shot.
And try to convince those around you to get one too.