To get the shot or not get the shot- that is often the heated discussion. When it comes time for a yearly flu vaccination, doctors are urging their patients to proactively protect themselves- and others- from the possibly deadly infection. At North Hills Family Medicine, we always urge our patients to get their yearly flu shots, helping to prevent sickness- rather than react to it. For those hesitant to act, we know that there are questions that need answering to provide not only a better understanding, but peace of mind as well:
Why Is It a Yearly Shot?
While we completely understand that convincing your children- or yourself for that matter- to get a shot every year seems daunting, the truth is that without it your body may not be able to properly defend itself. In fact, not only does your body’s immunity to the flu weaken throughout the year, but the actual virus is constantly changing. Unlike with other vaccinations, the formula for the flu vaccine must be reviewed, analyzed and modified to properly treat that particular flu of the season. It’s for those two reasons that the yearly shot is essential for optimal health.
How Dangerous is the Flu?
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), “millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.” And while this is certainly not meant to scare anyone, it’s important to put into context just how serious the virus can get if not prevented against. For the millions that get the flu each year, the most common symptoms are:
- Body Aches and Chills
- Sore Throat
- Possible Gastro Issues
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccination?
The CDC recommends anyone 6 months and older to receive their yearly vaccination, insisting that everyone needs their shot despite how healthy you typically are. That being said, there is an emphasis on young children, elderly people and those with incredibly weakened immune systems.
How Does It Work?
2 weeks from the time of your vaccination, antibodies form within your body to defend against the virus. Since it does take up to 14 days for the antibodies to establish themselves, doctors recommend getting the vaccine well before the flu has hit your community- and preferably before the end of October.
How Effective Is the Vaccination?
While the effectiveness of the vaccine ranges every year, with it being hard to gather concrete science for 100% protection, it still works to protect most people from getting the flu IF they’ve received the vaccine. And while some people claim that the vaccine actually makes you sick, that is a completely false misunderstanding, with the CDC explaining, “the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine).”
What Are the Side Effects?
Of course though as with any shot, there will be mild tenderness at the injection spot following the flu vaccine. Additionally, a mild redness, low-grade fever or temporary aches may follow in the day after getting the vaccine.
At the end of the day, it should be an easy choice to protect yourself and your loved ones from something that could be truly threatening. Even in its least threatening state, the flu is an awful experience for everyone, from children to adults. The fever, chills and body aches can last days to over a week, and cause us to miss out on school, work and other life events. For those that do fall ill to the flu, the possibility of landing yourself in the hospital for flu-related issues is not uncommon. In fact, the CDC estimates, “that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000.” It’s not worth running the risk of sickness or worse, when something as simple as a once-a-year vaccine can tremendously help our chances of protecting our immune systems from harm- and allowing us to continue enjoying all that the great fall and winter seasons have to offer!
Do you need immediate assistance?
North Hills Family Medicine is proud to announce the opening of Hill Country Urgent Care Clinic located in our Stone Oak office. Should you need immediate attention, please utilize our Urgent Care facility.