It’s not too late to get your flu shot! Y’all it’s 2020!
It is understandable that this time of year I would be writing a blog for FAAC patients about the importance of getting a flu shot. I’ve been asking everyone since about mid-August: “Have you had your flu shot or are you planning to get one? “
When I ask this question, I usually receive one of the following responses:
- Yes, I have already had one or I am planning to get one because I get one every year or my work requires me to have one every year.
- No, I have not had it. I do not usually get a flu shot. What do you think Dr. Hudelson? I have never really had the flu.
- No, I have not. I do not get flu shots because I always get the flu when I do.
- No, I have not. They do not make sense to me because they are based on last year’s flu.
- No, I do not like to get vaccines because I am worried about side effects
- No, I cannot get the flu shot. I am allergic to eggs.
Most of you know me well enough to know that my response tends to be: “Well it is my job to remind you to get your flu shot. I hope you will get one.” But I rarely preach. When I am asked my opinion, I always speak affirmatively about flu shots. I insist on flu shots for the staff at FAAC and for all high risk patients.
Yet, I am re-thinking my approach in 2020! Really y’all – it is 2020. And this year will go down in the history books as a hum dinger!
The goal of this blog is to briefly speak to each of the patient responses given above as a reason to not get a flu shot. Most of you will have already heard these reasons and for the most part have already decided whether you will or will not get a flu shot. This blog is my personal reason why I believe that getting a flu shot in 2020 is MORE IMPORTANT than ever before.
If you said: “Yes, I have already had one or I am planning to get one because I get one every year, then well done! You rock!
If you said: “I do not usually get a flu shot. I have never really had the flu. What do you think, Dr. Hudelson? “ I am in favor of everyone getting a flu shot because: 1. flu vaccination keeps you from getting sick with the flu and prevent millions of illness and flu-related doctor visits each year; 2. Flu vaccines prevent tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year (up to 40 % in elderly patients); and 3. Flu vaccines can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from the flu. Never having the flu is not a guarantee that you won’t ever get it. Even if you have an amazing immune system and never get sick, there’s no guarantee during the flu season.
If you said: “I do not get flu shots because I always get the flu when I do.” You are not alone. This is probably the most frequent reason I hear why someone does not want to get a flu shot. It has happened to plenty of folks – they get the flu shot and then feel terrible for a few days or even worse, actually get the flu a few weeks later anyway. But the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu because it’s a killed virus, not a live one. So why do some people feel crummy after the flu shot? Two explanations are likely: 1. feeling ill after the injection is a natural immune response common to many vaccinations, and 2. you are getting the shot at a time when viral illnesses abound. It is important to know that the influenza vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective.
If you said: “They do not make sense to me because they are based on last year’s flu.” Data shows that on average, the flu shot lowers the risk of flu illness by 40 to 60% according to the CDC. No medical intervention is 100% effective. Some protection is always better than no protection. Even in a year where the vaccine is only 50% effective, that’s a 50% reduction in illness.
If you said: I am worried about side effects. The most common side effect of the flu shot is a sore arm. There are no harmful ingredients in the flu shot.
If you said, “I cannot get the flu shot because I am allergic to eggs.” While this was true in the past, today’s flu vaccine does not actually contain eggs in whole form, and people with egg allergies can still receive the vaccine. However, if you’ve had an allergic reaction to a flu shot before, I will want to monitor you after the flu shot or even administer your flu shot in divided doses.
So, why do I feel the flu shot is more important this year than ever? Getting a flu shot this year is particularly important because, like SARS-CoV-2, influenza is a respiratory virus and we want to do everything we can to minimize having two respiratory outbreaks circulating simultaneously in our populations. The flu shot not only protects you from the flu, but it protects the vulnerable around you! Exercise your ability to positively impact the common good in 2020. It is a relatively easy way to show that you care about the others around you.