Would you like to spend a few days or even weeks this winter sniffling, sneezing, coughing, wiping your nose and feeling exhausted and maybe nauseated?
I think it’s safe to assume that everybody would respond “no.” So if nobody wants to get the flu, why isn’t everybody getting the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and reduce your chances of getting the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated is especially important for people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease, and for pregnant women, young children and people 65 and older.
Many people may avoid getting a flu shot because they believe one of these myths:
Myth #1: The flu shot is expensive.
In most cases, the cost of a flu shot is covered by your health plan, whether you buy health insurance on your own or are covered through your employer, Medicare or Medicaid. More employers are now offering free onsite flu shot clinics at the office. The financial and personal costs and the potential for missed days of work or school from the flu far exceed the cost of the vaccination.
Myth #2: Flu shots are only for people who have other health problems
Influenza does not discriminate against age or health habits. Just because you’re young or don’t typically get sick doesn’t mean you can’t catch the flu. You can catch the flu from someone who has yet to exhibit any signs or symptoms of being sick.
Myth #3: Flu shots are inconvenient
Getting a flu shot takes no more than five minutes. Most neighborhood pharmacies even offer walk-in options, so you don’t need to make an appointment. If you are unemployed or your employer doesn’t offer flu shots, you can go to your primary care doctor or nearby wellness clinic, most retail pharmacies or contracted flu shot providers. To find a list of flu shot providers near you, visit Flu.gov and enter your zip code.
Myth #4: The flu isn’t serious
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Thus, everyone should do everything they can to prevent getting sick with the flu. In addition to getting vaccinated, please remember to wash your hands regularly to help reduce the spread of germs. And if you are sick with the flu, stay home to prevent spreading flu to others.
Flu activity typically begins to increase in the late fall, so be sure to make your and your family’s health a priority and get a flu shot this year. If you do, you’ll likely be able to enjoy the fall and holidays a little more.