Getting a flu shot should be as integral to your fall festivities as apple picking and indulging in pumpkin spiced-flavored drinks.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of six months should get the vaccine once a year ahead of flu season, which lasts from October to May.
Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease, a nonprofit organisation, told Business Insider that it’s hard for experts for sure just how intense this flu season will be.
“Amongst ourselves, we say if you’ve seen one flu season, you’ve seen one flu season,” Schaffner said.
Even so, there are a number of reasons why getting a flu shot is an especially good idea this year, Schaffner said. Here’s his five reasons for everyone who still hasn’t gotten the vaccine this fall.
1. The southern hemisphere had a rough flu season
Australia, which heads into summer as the northern hemisphere goes into winter, got hit hard the flu this year. That’s especially because of the H3N2 strain of the flu virus. While that still doesn’t mean it will definitely be a bad flu season this year, the good news is that the particular strain is a good match to be protected against with this year’s vaccine Schaffner said.
“We can’t be sure that that strain will come north, but we anticipate that it might,” he said.
2. Your health isn’t the only thing you should consider when getting a flu shot
For many young people with a stable immune system, the flu might be an inconvenience that knocks you out for a week. But for people with compromised immune systems, or people over 65 whose immune system might be wearing down at the same time they’re dealing with a chronic condition like heart disease or diabetes, catching the bug from a young person could mean a stay in the hospital, or a long-lasting hit on their overall health.
So even if you’re willing to get sick, keeping in mind the benefits of not getting your great aunt, grandmother, or even coworkers sick could be a good reason to get a flu shot.
3. No, you can’t get flu from the flu vaccine.
“I’m afraid we still hear that. No, you cannot get flu from the flu vaccine,” Schaffner said. According to the CDC, flu shots are either made using an inactive virus that aren’t infectious or a vaccine that doesn’t contain the virus at all.
What you may feel are some side effects associated with the vaccine, including soreness, swelling, or redness where the shot was given, and you might get a low fever, a headache, or muscle aching, which could make you feel as if you have a slight cold.
4. The flu vaccine’s not perfect. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it.
Sure, it’d be nice to have a universal flu vaccine that meant you only had to get a shot once in your life. But until scientists crack that puzzle, it’s better to get the yearly jab than have no protection at all.
“We can do an awful lot of good with this pretty good vaccine, because it’s the one we have to use today,” Schaffner said.
5. ‘It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s covered by insurance.’
There are plenty of ways to get vaccinated for free. Most insurers cover it as a preventive treatment, and Medicare covers the shot entirely. “It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s covered by insurance,” Schaffner said. Plus, most drugstore clinics, including Walgreens and CVS have the vaccines available, so you don’t even have to go to a doctor’s office.
For the 2015-16 flu season, 41% of adults in the US got the vaccine, while 59.3% of children did. In the past seven years, the flu has sent anywhere between 140,000 and 710,000 people to the hospital over the season.
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