4 undeniable reasons to get a flu shot this year

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, up to 20% of all Americans will contract the influenza virus, and over 200,000 will be hospitalized due to flu-related complications.  Studies have shown that the best way to avoid contracting the flu virus and spreading it to others is to be immunized each year. Here are four reasons to get a flu shot.

It won’t give you the flu

One of the most common misconceptions about the flu shot is that it actually gives you the fluThis is false.  What is actually happening is that the flu vaccine activates antibodies in the body to protect against the flu virus, which takes about two weeks to develop.  Because multiple strains of the flu can exist, most vaccines are what are known as trivalent vaccines. These protect against the three most common strains: the two separate influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2) and an influenza B virus (either B Victoria or B Yamagata ). Certain clinics, like Urgent Care centers, offer a quadrivalent vaccine, which includes both strains of influenza A and both B Victoria and strains.

Additional flu vaccines available:

  • High-dose flu vaccine - for those 65 years and older; contains 4x higher dose of the vaccine.
  • Egg allergy-conscious flu vaccine - for those who have had an allergic reaction (typically hives) to eggs in the past.*
  • Preservative-free flu vaccine - does not contain thimerosal; typically, a trivalent vaccine as well, since quadrivalent vaccines are fairly new and preservative-free considerations are also fairly new. 

So, while you may be getting one or more strains of the flu from an immunization, the concentration of the virus is enough to trigger your body's natural immune response, but not enough to actually make you sick.

You'll save your sick days (for a vacation!)

Each year, the flu results in 111 million sick days across the country, as the flu virus spends several days taking its toll on your body.  If you are taking days off from work because you are sick but plan on working from home, it won’t be so easy.  A computer monitor or a conference call may be the last place you want to be if you are coughing, sneezing, sniffling, shivering and sweating.

Spending your lunch break getting your flu shot seems well worth it when you are using those sick days for a long weekend getaway in the winter.

It lowers your risk of contracting pneumonia

In 2015, a study was released showing that those who have been vaccinated against the flu are 57% less likely to catch pneumonia. That’s a pretty serious statistic given that many of those who are unfortunate enough to catch pneumonia typically end up in the hospital for 4-5 days with intravenous antibiotics and a 4-week long recovery period.

We know you don’t have time for that.

This information was collected and analyzed by researchers from the Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) at academic medical centers in Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, and Salt Lake City in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From a study conducted between January 2010 and June 2012, a total of 2,767 patients were hospitalized with pneumonia as a result of a community-spread illness. Lead author Dr. Carlos Grijalva, an associate professor of health and public policy at Vanderbilt University concludes, “We found patients who received the influenza vaccination had a substantially lower risk.”

* Egg-free (allergy-conscious) flu shots are only available from Dignity- Urgent Care in San Francisco and Legacy- Urgent Care in Portland and Vancouver. They are available in New York (Northwell Health-Urgent Care) or Connecticut (Hartford HealthCare-Urgent Care).