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October 2020

Why It’s So Important to Get Your Yearly Flu Shot

A “little case of the flu” can be a big deal as you get older. The body’s ability to fight infection weakens with age. Plus, older adults often have long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. These conditions also increase the risk of developing serious flu complications.

Need proof? Just look at these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • About 50% to 70% of hospitalizations for flu problems involve people ages 65 and older.

  • Between 70% and 85% of flu-related deaths occur in that same age group.

Getting your flu shot every year is the best way to protect yourself from the flu and its consequences.

History lesson

To understand the importance of flu shots, consider what can happen without them. When a deadly flu pandemic struck in 1918, no vaccine was available. About one-third of the world’s population was infected. It’s estimated that at least 50 million people worldwide died.

Today, flu shots are a safeguard against this kind of scenario. The CDC says that the flu vaccine can:

  • Reduce flu-related illness and doctor visits

  • Prevent many hospitalizations due to the flu

  • Protect those around you who are vulnerable to serious flu problems—not only older adults, but also babies, young children, and people with certain health conditions

Vaccine facts

You need a flu shot each year partly because the effects start to wane as the months go by. Also, the flu virus comes in different types and subtypes. The vaccine is updated every flu season to better match the viruses going around.

The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October. It takes about two weeks for the full effects to kick in. So it’s best to have your shot before flu starts spreading in your community.

The takeaway: Don’t skip out on this important vaccine—it’s crucial to keeping you in good health.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2020
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