You know you should get a flu shot. You’ve seen the billboards and received the leaflet in the mail. But you secretly wonder if you really need one. After all, you’ve never had the flu. What if the shot somehow gives you the flu (you’ve heard that’s possible)? You’ve read so many articles, sometimes you don’t know what to believe anymore.
According to the CDC, only 37 percent of U.S. adults were estimated to have gotten the flu shot last season. Of those people, only 59 percent were over the age of 65. This leaves nearly half of older adults—the people who have the most severe flu disease burden—unprotected.
If you’re still uncertain about whether to get a flu shot, here are seven reasons why you should get a flu shot now.
- It greatly reduces your chances of getting the flu. The flu vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu by 40 to 60 percent. That’s important, because if you’re over 65, your immune system is weaker and less able to fight off disease.
- It helps you avoid a hospital stay. What makes the flu particularly dangerous for older people is that you’re at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu. According to a 2018 study, getting the flu vaccine reduced an adult’s risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with flu by 82 percent.
- It can save you (and everyone) money. The flu costs the U.S. healthcare system and society $11.2 billion every year, on average. That’s a big chunk of change, and it filters down to patients, especially if you have to go to the doctor for a flu-related illness or pay the balance of a costly hospital stay. During 2016-2017, flu shots prevented 2.6 million flu-related medical visits, and 85,000 flu-related hospitalizations.
- You can snuggle up with your grandchildren, worry free. If the statistics don’t convince you, consider the fact that most pediatricians now advise parents to make sure they get the flu vaccine themselves, and to ask grandparents who will be caring for children to get it, too. The CDC agrees.
- It’s retooled each season to make sure it stays effective. The flu shot changes each year, and experts try to target the flu viruses they predict are most likely to be in circulation.
- It won’t give you the flu. It just won’t. Erase that one from your worry list. The flu vaccine either has inactive flu viruses that can’t make you sick or a single gene from a flu virus (versus the full virus), which produces an immune response but doesn’t cause infection.
- Medicare covers it. Medicare Part B covers one flu shot per season.
Most chain pharmacies offer the flu shot. Your healthcare provider may provide it, or host a walk-in clinic. See where the flu shot is offered near you.