Why Flu Shots Matter
With all the controversy over flu shots and other vaccines, many moms are asking, "who should get flu shots?" The answer is, almost everybody. Flu shots are an important safety measure for entire communities. Although there are some exceptions, just about everyone should get an annual flu vaccine.
Flu Shots Save Lives
Although the flu may not seem very worrisome, it is the sixth leading cause of death in American adults. While there are plenty of diseases that seem more deadly, there is no other potentially lethal virus that the average person in the developed world is more likely to be exposed to than influenza A or B. The truth is, influenza kills about 36,000 people a year and causes another 114,000 to be hospitalized. While skipping an annual flu shot may not be much of a risk for a healthy adult, it puts more vulnerable people around her at risk should she contract influenza.
A flu shot is not just a personal protection. Ideally, flu shots administered to healthy people protect the most vulnerable citizens in the community that can’t be vaccinated. By keeping the majority of the population flu-free, those who are more likely to be severely affected by the flu are less likely to get it.
Flu shots are 70-90% effective in granting immunity to influenza. The actual rate of immunity varies from year to year because the influenza virus is constantly mutating and doctors and scientists must make an educated guess of what strains to include in yearly vaccines. This is why it is important to get a flu shot every year instead of just once or twice in a lifetime.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
Flu shots are recommended for the vast majority of the general populous. The CDC designates the following people as candidates for a yearly flu vaccine.
- Healthy children 6 months old or older.
- Adults, including those over age 65.
- Pregnant women
- People with medical conditions including asthma, heart disease, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, and weakened immune systems including those with HIV or AIDS.
Who Shouldn't Get a Flu Shot?
There is a limited population of people that should not get a flu shot. Because these people can't get vaccinated, it's even more essential that those who can do. That way, those who aren't protected have less risk of getting the flu. People who shouldn't get a flu shot include:
- People with allergies to eggs.
- People who have had a severe reactions to a flu shot in the past.
- People who developed Guillian-Barré syndrome within 6 months of getting a flu shot.
- Children under 6 months of age.
- People experiencing an illness accompanied by fever should wait until their symptoms are resolved before getting a flu shot.
Ultimately, flu shots are not just important for personal health, but for the health of everyone around us. We have a responsibility to get vaccinated if we are able in order to protect those people around us who can't get a flu shot. Make an annual flu shot a fall ritual to keep you and your family healthy.