Flu season is upon us, and it’s time for your shot. Why some people Russian roulette with the influenza virus by opting out of the shots is one of modern life’s great mysteries. There’s little worse than the lethargy, high fever, sweats, chills and headaches that sideline you for days.
Yes, the shot’s effectiveness varies year to year — you might still contract the flu even after receiving it — but even if the odds are reduced only a little, you’re better off if you bite the bullet and roll up your sleeve.
So are your friends, family, coworkers and anyone else you encounter. Like any virus, the more people who contract it the more it spreads. You could be a walking biohazard. You’re not the only person affected by the vaccination decision. For some people, it can mean life or death. Infants, elderly people, cancer and HIV patients and others whose immune systems are compromised might not survive a bout with the flu.
The vaccine, on the other hand, won’t make you sick unless you have certain allergies. Some people experience mild reactions to the shot, but any claims that the shot will give you the flu are just nonsense.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that nearly everyone age 6 months and older should get the vaccine every season, especially people at high risk. Children younger than 6 months should not get the vaccine.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups — some shots are approved for use in children as young as 6 months, while some are approved for use in adults 65 years and older. If needles bother you, the nasal spray flu vaccine is available for most people ages 2-49. Pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions should not take the nasal spray flu vaccine.
Since it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, you should head to a pharmacy or clinic before cases start spreading in your community. The CDC recommends vaccination by the end of October, but even a late vaccine is better than none.
Do yourself and all of us a favor and get your flu shot. For more information about the flu and the vaccine, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations. Talk to your doctor if you have other concerns, especially if you have questions about allergic reactions.
Now, if we could just have some of those cooler temperatures ...