Many people avoid getting a seasonal flu shot, fearing (incorrectly) they’ll “get sick from it,” or “flu season may not be that bad this year.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. But millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.”
The CDC reports that a previously healthy California youth has recently died from this year’s flu. The CDC adds, “The flu is incredibly unpredictable. Last year, we saw something we had never seen before – two waves of influenza.”
The first wave was matched to the vaccine, but for the second wave, the vaccine was less effective. “Vaccination is still our best tool against the flu, and now’s the time to get vaccinated,” urges the CDC.
The CDC says that even if the vaccine proves to be less effective than planned, it still helps, and reduces the severity of the illness if you do become sick.
Older adults, young children, and people with chronic heart or breathing conditions are especially encouraged to be vaccinated. Pregnant women are advised to be vaccinated, too, to protect themselves and their babies.
The CDC explains that the vaccines work by causing antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination, which provide protection against the virus. Since it takes two weeks to develop immunity, it’s recommended to be vaccinated now, before the flu virus spreads to your community.
If you do become sick with influenza, experts recommend seeing your doctor as soon as possible, to begin a course of antiviral medications, which work best the earlier they’re taken.