Nobody wants to get the flu. Sure, as a kid, it felt nice to have a few days on the couch to watch TV, but actually feeling sick canceled out the fun. And as an adult, getting ill means missing work, fun, and commitments. It makes childcare even more complex, and a long recovery can make you feel low for a lot longer. Fortunately, the vaccine can help. Here are a few reasons this shot can keep you healthy as cold and flu season approaches.
Flu vaccines cause your body to create antibodies. These proteins in your blood are the warriors of your body. When the scouts call out an invader (in the form of a virus), the antibodies spring into action, grabbing the virus cells and throwing them out.
The most basic way a flu shot will help keep you healthy is by making it less likely that you’ll catch one of the variants this year. Each season, there are several different versions of the vaccine geared toward different strains. Manufacturers develop vaccines yearly based on research into what the dominant flu strains will most likely be.
Even if you get sick with the flu after receiving the vaccine, there’s a good chance you’ll have a less severe case than you would have without being vaccinated. It’s easy to brush off the risks of the flu, especially since it’s so common. But it’s important to remember that it kills people annually—an estimated 20,000 in the US alone in the 2019-2020 season. Increase your chances of staying out of the hospital when you get vaccinated.
Chronic conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma, and diabetes can all get worse when you have the flu. And it doesn’t stop there. Nothing feels more defeating than getting sick, starting to feel better, and then getting sick again with something else. When your immune system is down, it’s just not as efficient.
By getting vaccinated against the flu, you’re giving your immune system a gift, saving it the extra work it would need to fight off the flu virus on top of all the infections that try to jump past your body’s defenses, like the colds and strep and parasites that sneak in when your defenses are down. These are called complications. And the flu can have some severe complications you might not expect, like sinus infections, bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, and others.
Health officials recommend the flu vaccine for people aged six months and up, with just a few exceptions. For people with underlying health conditions, it’s best to talk to your provider about which preferred vaccination is the right choice for you. And if you have allergic reactions to vaccinations, or the flu vaccine, in particular, it’s also important to talk with your provider about that. But for most people, getting vaccinated is an easy and safe choice. A study in 2017 showed that getting vaccinated can significantly reduce a child’s chance of dying from influenza. And it can also protect both pregnant people and developing babies.
If you’re unsure or have questions about the flu vaccine, it’s okay to bring your concerns up with your provider. And don’t let cost keep you from getting your flu shot. CHP offers easy enrollment into public insurance if you qualify, and you can take advantage of a sliding payment scale based on income for whatever insurance doesn’t cover. Take your health seriously this flu season without financial stress.