Monday, October 19, 2020

Ten Reasons to Get Your Flu Shot

With flu season starting as COVID-19 continues to spread, many health experts fear a "twindemic."
Getting a flu shot can help avoid that. Photo by Brent Annear

Fall is here, and so is the flu. With COVID-19 still a threat, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from preventable illnesses, like the flu. Vaccines prevent sickness and make it easier for us to go about our everyday lives. Here are ten reasons getting the flu shot is so important. 

1. Save money: A flu shot is usually free or low cost, whether you have insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, or work for a company that provides the shot to prevent employees from getting sick. For employees’ sake, not getting the flu means no lost wages or missed work. 

2. Less chance of a heart attack: Getting the flu shot reduces your risk of having a heart attack, which occurs more frequently in the weeks following the flu. A recent study that examined more than 80,000 U.S. adults hospitalized with the flu over eight flu seasons found that one in eight flu patients experienced sudden, serious heart complications. 

3. Protect pregnant women: The flu vaccine protects pregnant women who are at risk for complications from the flu. Every pregnant woman deserves a pregnancy without fearing for the health of herself and her baby. Women who plan to get pregnant should also get the flu shot. Vaccines strengthen our ability to fight diseases, and studies show the shot works best among women of childbearing age.   

4. Protect newborn babies: The flu shot also helps protect babies under six months who are not yet eligible for a flu shot. When an expectant mom gets a flu shot, the protection gets passed on to her newborn until he or she is old enough to be immunized. 

5. Protect older people: It will protect your elderly relatives, who are less likely to receive as much protection from the flu shot as younger people get. If you don’t get the flu, you can’t pass it on to someone. 

By getting a flu shot, you help increase your 
area's herd immunity. Photo by Brent Annear
6. Protect people with chronic health conditions: You’ll also protect people who have conditions which can make the flu more serious for them. These include people with asthma, heart disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. 

7. Help defend your community from illness: The more people that get the flu shot, the stronger your area’s community immunity, or herd immunity is. Herd immunity is achieved when a large enough portion of the community becomes able to fight off a disease and is therefore less likely to spread it from person-to-person. This protects the whole community, especially those who are less able to fight illness or have chronic diseases. 

8. Avoid a hospital stay or doctor visit: Vaccines make you less likely to have to go to the doctor or end up in the hospital. Thanks to the flu shot, doctors and other health experts estimate two out of five older adults won’t have to be hospitalized this flu season because of the flu

9. Protect children: Influenza can be especially dangerous for children because they can develop complications like pneumonia, dehydration, brain dysfunction, sinus problems, and ear infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the past 10 years between 7,000 and 26,000 children younger than 5 years of age were hospitalized with the flu. Although it is rare, kids can die from the flu as well. If your child is afraid of needles, there is a nasal spray flu vaccine available for everyone six months and older with no underlying health issues. Talk to your child’s doctor about which vaccine is best.

10. Stay active: The flu vaccine helps keep you moving. It may not always prevent the flu, but it can lessen symptoms and shorten sick time. This means fewer missed work and school days, and more time to do the things you enjoy. 

Because COVID-19 is still spreading as flu season starts, many health experts fear a “twindemic.” While we wait for a COVID-19 vaccine, there is one for the flu. For more information on the flu shot, view this downloadable poster created in both English and Spanish by the Texas Medical Association’s Be Wise Immunize℠ program

Be Wise – Immunize is funded in 2020 by the TMA Foundation, thanks to major support from H-E-B and Permian Basin Youth Chavarim.

Be Wise – Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association. 

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