Questions surrounding vaccinations continue to make their way into conversations about who needs to get vaccinated. The short answer: Everyone should get vaccinated, even if you’re young and healthy.
The CDC estimates more than one in 10 people come down with the influenza virus annually. We try to protect ourselves every year by making health conscious decisions at work, and by keeping our kids safe when seasonal or new viruses reach schools. The safest way to protect ourselves and others against influenza is through immunization.
Here’s why it’s important for healthy people to get flu vaccinations.
1. Prevent a Trip to the Hospital or Worse
Influenza is one of the top ten causes of death, but it’s also one of the most preventable.
There is no doubt, flu shots save lives. During the most extreme years, 700,000 folks are rushed to the hospital for flu related illnesses. While the flu vaccine can vary in effectiveness, the CDC estimates vaccinations prevented 5.3 million illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits, and 85,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza between 2017 – 2018.
Recovering from influenza can also leave you vulnerable to other conditions because of increased inflammation in your system. According to the CDC, people who don’t get vaccinated are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke a few weeks after recovering.
2. Vaccinate to Protect Others
When healthy people decline vaccination, it creates a risk for others in their community. Fewer than half of kids get vaccinated for influenza, leaving them at risk of catching the virus. Those who are low-income and uninsured are least likely to get the protection they need because they can’t afford vaccination. The easiest way to prevent spreading disease to vulnerable people like children and the elderly is to get vaccinated.
This is because the flu vaccine is designed to protect you from common virus strains researchers discover during a flu season. Once you get a flu shot, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect you against the flu to develop in your body. You can’t pass the contagion to another person if your body is able to resist those strains, which protects others around you.
The CDC believes that individual vaccinations have prevented thousands of hospital visits and illnesses from happening every flu season. In fact, vaccinations helped people avoid 2.5 million doctor visits and 3,000 deaths between 2015 – 2016 flu alone.
It only takes one day before symptoms develop in healthy people to pass the virus to others, and five to seven days after becoming sick. When you protect yourself from the flu, you are also protecting your community from it too.
3. Vaccinations Make Illness Less Severe
There’s an added bonus to getting a flu shot for those worried about catching an illness after getting one. Studies show that flu symptoms are less severe after vaccination, and your illness could be shorter, even if you’re immunized against a particular strain and not another. Studies also linked flu shots with reduced hospitalization and better chances of survival in ICU admissions.
We know people decide not to get the shot because they got one in the past, and they still got sick. While there are many variables for why people get sick after getting a flu shot, vaccines cannot get you sick.
The most common reason for getting sick after getting a flu shot is that you were exposed to a virus prior to getting vaccinated. Another reason could be that you contracted an entirely different virus than the one vaccinated for. Alternatively, the antibodies in your flu shot didn’t adapt your body, and you contracted a seasonal virus. Keep in mind that vaccinations are only 60 percent effective.
4. Forecasting the Flu Season Won’t Help
Surgeon General Jerome Adams noted that when a bad flu season strikes, it’s impossible to forecast its impact until it’s reached the public. This is because there are so many new viruses constantly emerging and evolving annually, making it impossible for scientists to predict which flu strains will become predominate each season. Healthy people prioritizing vaccinations can help avoid contributing to the annual epidemic, even if they aren’t expecting to get sick.
We can help you prepare for the 2019 flu season by getting immunized at one of our Northwest Primary Care locations—it’s never too late! We offer a number of vaccinations to match your needs, including standard and high dose flu shots, nasal spray vaccine, and special shots for seniors and people with allergies.