Flu vaccine season is upon us and many of you have probably starting seeing signs, emails, and other messages advertising flu vaccines. I've posted several times on the flu vaccine and you can read those posts here, here, and here. As a parent and as someone who loves science, I highly, highly encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine doesn't cover you 100% from contracting the flu, but it does greatly reduce your chances of catching it. Most people who claim they have the flu, despite getting the flu vaccine, usually do not. They usually have a bad cold, which can produce similar, but more mild symptoms. Those symptoms may not seem mild to you, but they are more mild than true flu systems.
The CDC reports that 3,000 (low) to 49,000 (high) people in the United States die from the flu each year. The flu can be much more than an inconvenience. Granted, this is a tiny % of the total population of the US (0.015% on the high end), but given the easy access to the flu vaccine is this country, there's very little reason NOT to get the flu vaccine. Most flu-related deaths are the very young or very old who have weaker immune systems, but healthy adults do die from the flu each year.
Now, before anyone calls me out on it, there are individuals who should NOT receive the flu vaccine. These include people under the age of 6 months and those who have had a prior allergic reaction to a flu vaccine. This encompasses a small portion of all people. A full list is available from the CDC website.
Who Should NOT Get the Flu Vaccine?
Notice I've avoided the use of the word 'shot'? This is due to the fact that the flu vaccine is no longer limited to an actual shot with a needle. Most places that offer the flu vaccine have supplies of the nasal mist version of the flu vaccine. Are you scared of a 'shot'? No longer an excuse to not get the flu vaccine. Get the nasal mist.
So this season, I encourage you to protect yourself and protect others around you by vaccinating yourself against the flu. For most of the U.S. population there is no excuse not to get vaccinated.