It’s a huge debate every winter: To get the flu shot or to not get the flu shot? The CDC says an annual vaccine is the number one most effective way to protect you from influenza, a pretty serious and common disease, known more simply as “flu.”
If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how awful it is. Fever, headaches, an overall feeing of achiness, chills, fatigue, not to mention a cough, nasal congestion and sore threat. The flu could have you laid up in bed for days, and sometimes even a week or more.
It makes sense to get the vaccine so you can be protected of this terrible disease, but some people are a little nervous about it. In fact, a national survey of 700 parents by Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital found that more than half of the respondents believed that the flu shot can actually cause you to get the flu. Additionally about one-third of respondents said that the flu shot didn’t work.
However, after extensive studies, it’s been proven that the flu shot does not cause you to get sick.
“One of the things we always hear is: ‘Well, I don’t want to get the flu shot because the one time I got the flu shot, I got sick.’ But actually, it’s impossible to get the flu from the vaccine shot because it’s made from the dead parts of the virus,” says Dr. Jean Moorjani, a board-certified pediatrician for the hospital. “And sometimes, it’s possible the person might have just gotten sick from one of the many other common cold viruses that are around during that time of the season.”
Another reason people don’t get a flu shot is because they simply don’t think they need it—maybe they’ve never gotten the flu before or think that even if they got it, it wouldn’t be that bad and they could handle it.
The thing is, not getting one, no matter what the reason, is honestly a little bit selfish. The flu is one of the most contagious disease out there, and if you get it, you can spread it to others with a quick cough or sneeze. In fact, you can catch it from someone even just talks to you from up to six feet away.
Even if you stay away from people when you’re sick, you can actually infect others a day before you show any symptoms, and up to a week after becoming sick. And that means you might not even know you’re sick and can still spread it.
The biggest problem with this is that the flu isn’t just a cough and a sneeze. It can be really serious and sometimes fatal, especially for people with weakened immune systems such as the elderly or young babies or children.
“The flu is not just a cold. It can lead to serious complications like pneumonia or sepsis,” Dr. Moorjani says. “And because we as health care providers have no idea of knowing who is going to get very sick from the flu, that’s why we tell everyone to get the shot to protect themselves and their families.”
The takeaway? Get a flu shot, even if you’re skeptical! You could save others (plus protect yourself) with this simple act.
For statistics on how many people (especially elderly and children) die or are hospitalized because of influenza, check out the video below (hint: it’s a lot).
Have you ever gotten the flu before? Are you for or against flu shots?