Yes my friends, it’s flu season once again. At work today, my friend and I conducted a flu clinic and in 2 hours, managed to administer the flu vaccine to 55 people.
There is a constant debate about the benefits of getting a flu shot and from having given so many flu shots in the past, I can pretty much put people into 3 categories: 1. Need it, want it; 2. Need it, don’t want it; 3. Don’t need , don’t want it. I wasn’t always in Category 2, but I am now, especially because I got sick with flu three years in a row, even after getting the shot religiously. However, I work in an organization and a profession where flu shots are not just recommended. They’re mandatory, and yes, you can lose your job if you don’t get it. So we usually just skip the debate, man up and take the shot.
Now the question is, do I take the shot because I’m afraid to lose my job? Well, that’s partly a yes (because I love my job) and mostly a no. As much as I don’t want it, I do believe we need it. The CDC estimates that about 30 to 50 million Americans get the flu each season, and about 20,000 to 40,000 die as a result of complications. In spite of these morbidity and mortality rates AND the availability of studies showing a significant decline in incidence and number of deaths, as well as reduced hospitalization days with flu vaccination, people still don’t get excited about the vaccine. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, less than 50% of the population aged 6 months to 64 years old received vaccination in the last 12 months.
People have their own reasons why they don’t want it, be it the absence of insurance or the belief that there is either no benefit to it, or that the risks associated with getting the vaccine are greater than the benefits. Whatever it is, please rethink your decision. Yes, it’s not a guarantee that you won’t get sick with the vaccine, I already know that from experience. But if I got sick even after getting the shot, I can also imagine how much worse it could have been without it. Last year, I forgot to take my kids to the doctor to get their flu shots and they both got flu, and it was a horrible, horrible time for us. I regretted that I neglected my duties as a parent, regretted that I was the cause of their misery, and regretted it enough to make me say I will never let that happen again. People, especially children and the immuno-compromised, have been known to die from influenza or other flu-related complications, even with vaccination. So if you’re against getting a shot, or even the slightest bit tentative, thinking that your immune system is strong enough to withstand the virus, please consider other people too. Maybe their immune system is not up to the challenge. I wouldn’t want to be that person who passes on a virus that kills another. Would you???