Every year around this time I write a blog about the flu shot.
This is not a blog to try to convince you whether or not you need to get it. Most people have pretty firm beliefs on whether or not they chose to get vaccinated.
This is just a blog to present you with some facts and information so that you can make an informed decision for you and your family.
Tens of thousands of Americans die every year from the flu, and millions more get sick from it. The CDC reports that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010.
The flu is mostly transmitted by tiny droplets that infected people spread when they cough, sneeze, or even talk. In some cases, it can spread when people come in contact with a surface that has the flu virus on it.
The best way for you and your family to prevent acquiring the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. It works by allowing your body to develop antibodies that fight flu viruses and help prevent infection.
The CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and nearly every other healthcare related institution recommends every American (there are a few exceptions) over the age of 6 months, gets the yearly flu vaccination.
Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, here at WVMC, and nearly every hospital in America also recommend every health care worker receive the influenza vaccination each year to help protect the patient population.
Research studies estimate that receiving the flu vaccine helps reduce your chance of acquiring the flu by 40-60% each year.
If you do get the flu after having received the flu vaccine, your symptoms are more likely to be milder and shorter in duration.
Do I get the flu vaccine every year? Yes I do. I am comfortable with my decision based on my understanding of the benefits it delivers, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for you and your family. There are instances where the flu vaccination is not recommended.
Any child under 6 months of age and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine (this might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients) should NOT get the annual flu vaccine.
People with mild allergies to eggs or any ingredient in the vaccine, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and/or are feeling sick should check with their doctor prior to receiving the flu vaccine to ensure it’s safe and appropriate.
Ultimately, you have to make the best decision for you and your family regarding the flu vaccine, but there is one thing you can absolutely do to help prevent your family from getting sick this year. Wash your hands.
It’s such a simple thing you can do, but good hand hygiene is one of the easiest and very best ways you can protect yourself from getting sick this flu season.
If you have any questions about getting your flu shot this year, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Zac Woodruff, RN BS
Willamette Valley Medical Center
(503) 472 6131