Catching the flu is a terrible experience. No one enjoys being confined to the couch in constant aching and discomfort while guzzling down flu medications.
Despite the flu’s unpleasantness, attitudes toward the flu shot are still overwhelmingly negative. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 60% of Americans opt against receiving the flu shot.
There are some very common reasons why people do not get the flu shot, and each of them has a rebuttal leaving these reasons either logically or medically unsubstantiated.
1: “It is better for the body to build up its natural immunity.”
The body’s ability to develop immunity to influenza is only a temporary response. To make matters worse, the flu virus changes yearly. This year’s flu strand may be gone by next year. Any immunity the body builds up toward a particular virus may be irrelevant the following year.
2: “I don’t get, or rarely get the flu.”
The flu affects healthy people too. This includes even those who often wash their hands, take their vitamins, and are otherwise generally healthy. Opting to vaccinate against the flu not only protects you, but also those around you who may be at greater risk of flu-related complications. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and others with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing severe flu-related complications such as pneumonia or even death.
3: “I know someone who still got sick after taking the shot.”
The CDC does their best to predict which flu strain of the season to vaccinate against, but it is still possible to become infected from a different flu virus. It is also possible to become sick with the common cold or sinusitis, which the flu shot does not protect against. The flu shot itself is made from a dormant virus making it is impossible to contract that strain, or grouping of strains, from the vaccination.
4: “I am worried about the side effects.”
Flu shot side effects are usually mild and short-lived. The patient may experience soreness at the injection site, aches, and mild fever. Serious side effects are extremely rare. The flu shot’s benefits in averting illness, hospitalization and death are widely accepted to outweigh the risks.
5: “Drugs can treat the flu, so I don’t need the shot.”
Over the counter flu drugs don’t prevent the flu, but instead help abate the symptoms while your body recovers. Anti-viral drugs do not cure the flu, rather only shorten its duration. These drugs are typically only available by prescription and have to be taken within 1-2 days of the onset of symptoms.
6: “The flu shot is ineffective.”
New research spanning the past six flu seasons shows that the flu shot has become more effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in the journal PLoS One showing that approximately 13.6 million illnesses, 5.8 million medical visits and 112,900 influenza-related hospitalizations were prevented by using the flu vaccine.
7: “I don’t like shots.”
Many people dislike needles or getting shots. If you are nervous, try lying down to help relax during a flu vaccination shot. Flu shots are often made with egg whites, which can present a problem for those who have an egg white allergy. If an injected flu vaccination isn’t an option, talk with your doctor about getting the nasal spray flu vaccination.
8: “It costs too much.”
Flu-shots are often covered by insurance companies as preventative care. According to a recent Consumer Report’s survey, most people had no out-of-pocket expenses for the flu shot. Of those who did, 90 percent paid less than $30.
9: “I don’t like going to the doctor.”
Going to the doctor can be a hassle. Overbooked appointments can create scheduling difficulties and long times spent in waiting rooms. Fortunately, most people do not have to visit their doctor to receive a flu shot. Flu shots are often offered at work, health fairs, colleges, local pharmacies, and public health clinics.
Encouraging and practicing preventative care is the future of the healthcare industry. An annual flu shot is one measure that many people can incorporate into their preventative care routine that not only helps prevent them from contracting the flu, but helps prevent future flu epidemics and pandemics.
For more information about flu shots, please contact CARE Pharmacies.