September 2020 Update: The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the importance of receiving your annual flu vaccine as soon as possible. Although the flu shot cannot protect you from COVID-19, it can protect you from a serious case of influenza. Individuals who elect not to receive the flu vaccine are at risk of catching the flu, in addition to the pre-existing risk of COVID-19. A combination of experiencing both viruses at or near the same time could be extremely dangerous for your respiratory and overall health.
The leaves are changing color and the weather is turning cooler, and that means it’s time for a new set of seasonal activities: hayrides & corn mazes, pumpkin-picking, tailgates during football games, and late-night bonfires. But autumn isn’t the only season we’re welcoming this month – we’ve also turned the corner into flu season. And the flu is the one thing you definitely don’t want to experience this fall. Luckily, there is a way to protect yourself: by getting your annual flu shot.
The flu, a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, can infect the nose, throat, and lungs, causing symptoms and complications that can range from limited, to significant, to deadly. Last winter, 80,000 people died of the flu in the United States. The flu is spread by contact with others who are sick, through bodily fluids often passed via coughing or sneezing, or by contact with infected surfaces.
To help keep you healthy enough to enjoy all the adventures this fall season has to offer, the healthcare professionals at Bayside Docs Urgent Care have put together a list of 10 reasons why you want to get your flu shot this year – and why you shouldn’t wait.
1. Cut Your Risk Of the Flu In Half (or More)
It’s true that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, but that does not mean it isn’t worth getting. Getting the flu shot as early as you can is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. Symptoms are typically much less severe for those who get their flu shot but still come down with the flu. The vaccine also significantly lessens your risk of dangerous flu complications or ending up in the hospital.
2. You Won’t Get the Flu From the Vaccine
Consider this myth officially busted – the flu shot cannot give you the flu. The virus in the flu shot is dead (inactive), and will not make you sick. After receiving the vaccination, you may feel some tenderness in your arm around the injection site, or experience mild aches/a low-grade fever. These reactions are mild, and won’t last more than a day or two. And a slight pain in your arm is a worthy trade-off for avoiding a significant case of the flu or a costly hospitalization.
3. Close Quarters = Increased Risk
Do you travel frequently? Work in an office or other contained work environment? Have school-aged children? These are all places where you have an increased chance of exposure to the flu virus. The flu virus is passed on by contact with often-invisible bodily fluids; spending long periods of time in locations where people are in close contact with one another (such as airplanes, office buildings, and schools) heightens the importance of getting your flu vaccine early.
4. Avoid Missing Work Or School
Paid time off is for family vacations and spontaneous Friday fun, and no one wants to waste their hard-earned PTO at home or in the hospital with the flu. Missing work can lead to loss of productivity, both for you and your employer. And long absences from school can be costly for students as well.
5. Build Up Your Antibodies, The Sooner, The Better
Unfortunately, the flu vaccine does not provide immediate protection against the various strains of the flu. It can take up to two weeks for your body to build up antibodies to keep you safe, so it’s very important to be vaccinated before the symptoms of the flu begin to appear where you live and work.
6. Support Herd Immunity
Not everyone is eligible for the flu vaccine, including infants under six months old or individuals with allergies to flu shot components. And not everyone who can be vaccinated will receive their flu shot. By vaccinating yourself, you can help protect our vulnerable friends, family, and community members.
7. Prevent Increased Risk of Pneumonia & Other Complications
Not getting the flu shot doesn’t just put you at risk for getting the flu – you’re also at risk for developing severe complications, such as pneumonia. If you are already living with a chronic disorder like heart disease or diabetes, the flu vaccine can help lower your risk of cardiac events and reduce hospitalizations. Without the vaccine, an occurrence of the flu can cause serious, often life-threatening complications of a pre-existing illness.
8. Changes in Flu Strains
Even if you got a flu shot last year, you still need one this year! Flu strains are constantly changing, which means the preventative vaccine is different every year. If you are exposed to the flu, the vaccine will significantly reduce the severity of your symptoms.
9. Save Money
The flu doesn’t only have the potential to be dangerous to your body, but it can also be damaging to your wallet. From the cost of a doctor’s visit, medications, use of sick leave, or even more significant costs like a hospitalization, coming down with the flu can pack a bigger punch than you might expect.
10. Simply Put, It’s Easy
It only takes a few minutes to receive your flu vaccine. Most insurance plans cover the cost of a flu vaccine in full, but even if you aren’t insured, you can still receive your vaccination at Bayside Docs for just $30.
The result of not getting your flu shot can range from a mild annoyance to a severe consequence – but it’s just not worth the risk. Instead, stop by Bayside Docs for your annual flu vaccine this fall.
Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from the flu this year – watch for our flu shot signs to be posted.