Citing the more than 80,000 American lives lost as a result of coming down with influenza last flu season and dying, Surgeon General Jerome Adams is urging all persons 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated — preferably before the end of this month. Reminding everyone that some of us are more vulnerable to brutal, life-threatening impacts than others — notably pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions — Dr. Adams told U.S.A. Today late last week that getting vaccinated is a social responsibility”:
Adams said people have a “social responsibility” to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities.
“That herd immunity is so, so very important,” he said at a news conference. “That community immunity is what we want to take home today; 80,000 deaths last year and they all got the flu from someone else.”
The 2017-2018 influenza season that ended last spring was the most severe since the 2009 pandemic and resulted in nearly one million hospitalizations and 180 pediatric deaths. Flu vaccines are safe and can effectively minimize the risks to infants, children, and adults:
“Some effectiveness is better than no effectiveness,” Adams said.
Vaccination doesn’t guarantee a person will avoid contracting the flu, but research shows that people who are vaccinated are less likely to experience severe complications.
A CDC study in 2017 showed that vaccination reduced flu deaths among children with high-risk medical conditions by half and among healthy children by about two-thirds[…]
Adults who get the vaccine are less likely to suffer complications that require hospitalization.
A flu vaccine is the single most important thing you can do to prevent influenza (though frequent and proper hand washing won’t hurt, either). Here is how to get one:
Parents: Call your child’s pediatrician and schedule a time to bring them to the office for a flu shot. Most of our offices offer special flu clinics during and after hours and on Saturdays. Some offices even vaccinate parents!
Grandparents, caretakers, and all other adults: Call your doctor to schedule, attend a community flu clinic, or go to a local pharmacy and get a flu shot.
Remember: The only reason for not receiving a flu shot this year is a previous history of an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine or one of its components. “It hurts,” “It doesn’t work,” “I’ve never had a flu shot/I don’t need it/I never get the flu,” “The flu shot gave me the flu once/The flu shot always makes me sick/The flu shot makes me sicker than getting the flu” are all excuses, and weak ones at that. The CDC reminds us that the flu shot doesn’t cause the flu:
- A flu vaccine cannot give you flu. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was given, fever, and/or muscle aches. These side effects are NOT flu. If you do experience side effects, they are usually mild and short-lived, especially when compared to symptoms from a bad case of flu.
- Flu vaccines are among the safest medical products in use. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years. Extensive research supports the safety of flu vaccines. CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor the safety of vaccines approved for use in the U.S.
If you have a history of egg allergies (not anaphylactic), you can safely receive a flu vaccine with no special precautions.
“I’m afraid of shots” is, at least, an honest sentiment. You owe it to yourself and the ones you love to get over that fear. Please take a few moments out of your day and get your annual flu shot.
Last month, The PediaBlog prepared readers for the upcoming flu season here.