By Bill King
Those of you that have regularly read my posts over the years, know that I am normally very tolerant of differing views. I have found very few issues for which there are not two sides. But I am adamant on this point today – it is imperative that you get the flu shot this year.
It is a good idea every year to get the flu shot and I do so religiously, with the exception of one year I inadvertently missed it and ended up in Methodist with a particularly nasty case. But this year there are two additional compelling reasons to do so.
First, it is possible to get COVID and the flu at the same time and from what some doctors told me who have seen it happen, it ain’t pretty. Now granted, it is exceedingly unlikely you would contract both at the same time but why take the chance.
Second, and more importantly, by being vaccinated you contribute to our herd immunity against the flu. We really don’t want a bad flu season and a resurgence of COVID cases at the same time this winter. We don’t have a lot of control over what COVID will do but we do over the flu by getting vaccinated. So, do your part for the herd.
I have people regularly tell me that they do not get the flu shot because they got sick from the shot or they got the shot and got the flu anyway. First, you absolutely do not get the flu from the flu shot. The vaccine is made from dead viruses so you cannot be infected by vaccine. Sometimes people will get a common cold after being vaccinated, which the flu shot does not prevent, and mistakenly believe they got the flu.
On the second point, however, it is possible to get the flu even if you take the flu shot. First, the vaccine is not effective for about two weeks. So, if you are exposed during that time it is possible to be infected. Also, there are several different strains of the flu virus. The flu shot is formulated each year based on researchers’ best guess as to the strains that will be most prevalent that season. Some years their guesses are better than others. On average, the vaccine is 60-70% effective. Nonetheless, researchers say that even if you get the flu after being vaccinated, the shot will normally mitigate the symptoms.
So, first, you are decreasing your personal odds of getting sick by about two-thirds. If you could get a shot that would reduce your odds of being in a car wreck by two-thirds each year, wouldn’t you get it?
But more importantly, for every 100 people who are vaccinated, the flu virus will have 60-70% fewer targets to whom it can be transmitted. The more people we can get vaccinated, the more we will be protecting the entire herd.
Only about 40% of Americans get the flu shot every year. We must do better this year.
Here’s bottom line. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to your doctor or pharmacy and get yourself and your family the flu shot. Do it today.