While the flu shot is not the end-all-be-all of preventing the flu, it helps considerably. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016-2017 flu vaccinations prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations. Additionally, the CDC reports that 59 percent of vaccinated patients are less likely to be admitted to the ICU. The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone age six months or older.
Receiving the flu vaccination is especially pertinent to those at risk of serious complications from influenza. Factors that could leave you at a higher risk of serious complications include asthma, cancer treatment, diabetes, kidney or liver disease and obesity. The flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially those who have experienced a cardiac event in the past year. Even if you get sick with a different strain of influenza after receiving a vaccination, the flu vaccine can help lessen your symptoms.
Getting a flu vaccination goes beyond just protecting yourself. Getting vaccinated benefits your family, your friends and even the community. With more and more people receiving the vaccination, the threat of contracting influenza for those who who cannot receive the vaccine – due to an allergic reaction, age or personal reasons – is greatly reduced.
Many doctors’ offices have the flu vaccinations readily available. However, if you don’t have a regular family physician, you can receive the vaccine at health clinics, pharmacies, urgent care clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities. Some employers even offer the flu shot in the workplace.
Missed time from work and school, plans being cancelled and time spent laying around at home while you recover from the flu can be avoided with the help of the flu vaccine. Avoid the misery of getting the flu by getting your flu shot this year.
About the author
Dennis A. Estep, DO, is the Chief Medical Officer at Freeman Health System. Dr. Estep served as the Freeman OccuMed Medical Director for more than 23 years before taking over in his current position at the beginning of 2018. Dr. Estep is board-certified in Occupational Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine and was named a Fellow by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 06). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 06). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 06). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm