It’s estimated that 80,000 deaths occurred in the US during the 2017-2018 flu season. What’s frustrating for medical professionals is the fact that these deaths are largely preventable with the flu vaccine. Many people are reluctant to get vaccinated, though; people are concerned about getting the flu after being vaccinated, maybe, or they feel they’re young and healthy enough not to need it.
Those concerns may be unfounded, though. Here are some common questions about getting the flu shot, and their answers:
When should I get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, but even if it’s after that, you can still benefit from the flu shot. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, which is why people sometimes think the vaccine has given them the flu – they just weren’t vaccinated early enough and caught a virus in that intermediate 2-week period.
Isn’t this flu season supposed to be mild?
Unfortunately, by the time experts know whether a flu season will be mild or not, it’s already well underway. It’s better to be prepared for every flu season by getting the flu shot.
Is it really effective?
To be clear, the flu shot isn’t perfect. Each year different flu strains make their way through the public, and while the flu vaccine contains multiple common strains of the flu, sometimes scientists miscalculate.
For instance, the 2017-2018 vaccine was 40 percent effective, and, though this may not sound impressive, it means that your risk of needing to seek medical care due to the flu is reduced by 40 percent. That’s a 40 percent lower chance of being hospitalized…or worse. It’s not perfect, but it’s effective.
But it’s the flu. What’s the big deal?
The flu can kill healthy adults, so it is a big deal. The elderly, children, people with underlying health conditions, and people with suppressed immune systems are even more vulnerable. Getting the flu shot protects you, as well as the people around you. For adults with young kids, that can be the most important consideration.
Where can I get the flu shot?
The flu vaccine is available at your doctor’s office as well as many pharmacies and local health departments. The CDC has also set up a handy website to help you find a location close to you. The cost for the flu vaccine is typically pretty modest ($25 or less), and it may even be free if you have insurance coverage. If you don’t have health insurance, many state health departments can connect you with free or low-cost flu shots.
So protect yourselves and your loved ones – get vaccinated today!