To Flu Shot or Not To Flu Shot?
“Should I get a flu shot?”
Many of us grapple with this question, especially now, as flu season is just around the corner for those of us in the northern hemisphere. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people have died from flu-related illness from the1976-77 flu season to the 2006-2007 flu season, making this an area worth exploring for all of us.
So what are the pros and cons of receiving a flu vaccine?
If you visit flu.gov, the benefits of a flu shot are clearly listed. The website states:
“Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine.”
It’s hard to get much more cut-and-dry than that! However, it is always wise to research your decision, especially one that could greatly impact your health, so, while the official statement from flu.gov sounds enticing, let’s take a deeper look at what the flu vaccine can do for you.
First, and most importantly, a flu vaccine will typically reduce your risk of getting the flu. If you still get it, however, flu.gov claims that, with a vaccine, you will become “60 percent less likely to need treatment for the flu by a healthcare provider.” So, even if you still get the flu after a vaccination, you should feel better and need less time off work than if you skipped out on the flu shot.
Furthermore, the flu can have a more serious impact on a wide spectrum of individuals. According to the Mayo clinic, the flu can cause serious complications for pregnant women, older adults, young children, or people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, or obesity. If you fall under one or more of these categories, the flu vaccine could be particularly vital for you!
Simply put, the flu vaccine tips the scale in your favor. If you do still get the flu, the vaccine will help to reduce its effects.
There are concerns about thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative found in flu shots, and I agree that this is something we need to be conscious of. However, there is a large body of scientific evidence which says thimerosal is safe. In low doses, as is the case with a flu shot, thimerosal typically causes minor redness or swelling at the injection site at worst.
Any time it comes to needles and medicine, I understand that we may get a little apprehensive. In the case of a flu shot, however, we should scale back the fear and consider the immense positive benefits.
Personally, I got a flu shot this year at a local Rite-Aid. I stopped in to get a few things and saw they were offering vaccinations, so I hopped in line. It was that easy, and now that’s one less thing I’ll worry about as we move into winter.
That said, I advise you to talk to your doctor if you’re having second thoughts about the vaccine. Ask him or her to thoroughly explain how it might impact you and then make the decision you feel is right.
If you’re in San Diego and you think a flu shot is right for you, visit the Council of Community Clinics or Bayside Community Center. Both of these organizations are staffed by knowledgeable, helpful individuals, and they will be able to professionally administer your flu shot.
I hope this info makes flu season a little less stressful for you. What do you think about the flu vaccine? Will you be getting one this year? Leave a comment, and we’ll talk about it!
-Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director
Allaince Healthcare Foundation
About Alliance Healthcare Foundation
Alliance Healthcare Foundation is a San Diego-based nonprofit which works with nonprofit, government and community agencies to advance health and wellness throughout the San Diego and Imperial Counties. AHF works to serve the most vulnerable – the poor, working poor, children and homeless by providing grants, advocacy and education to support its region.
To learn more about our grantees visit here: AHF’s Grantee Page