As the hot and lazy days of summer grow more distant in our rear view mirrors, the cold and icky flu season fast approaches. In fact, flu season is so close, everywhere I go lately, all the drug stores have their “Flu Shot” schedules plastered all over the store to remind each and every one of us to pull up our sleeves and take one for the team.
Despite all the hullabaloo about swine flu, bird flu and every other type of influenza ever known to mankind, many people wonder, “Do I really need a flu shot?”
Flu shot vaccines this flu season are designed to protect against three strands of influenza: H1N1, influenza A H3N2 and influenza B. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone over the age of six months receive a flu shot, especially those more susceptible to the dangers of influenza. Those include small children, pregnant women and patients over the age of 65.
Early in the 2000s, health experts recommended that those with healthy immune systems hold off on getting their flu shots until the more susceptible patients received them, but these days it seems they want everyone to get their flu shot. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics would like to instate manual flu shots.
According to their research, flu shots could cut a significant expense chunk off of the nation’s yearly health care costs, especially if all medical personnel were required to have them. The AAP also believes mandatory flu shots could cut down on morbidity rates and time spent by patients who contract influenza spend in hospitals.
But the question remains: do you really need a flu shot?
- If you work with children in a daycare, school or after school sport or activity that exposes you to children on a regular, day to day basis, you should get your flu shot. Not only to protect yourself, but to cut down on exposure to the children you work with.
- If you work in a doctor’s office or health care facility, you are exposed to sick patients on a daily basis, and even if you keep your immune system on the healthy side, you should still get your flu shot.
- If you work with the elderly, even as a volunteer, you should get a flu shot to cut down the risk of influenza exposure for yourself and the people you work with.
- If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether or not a flu shot is safe for you and your unborn baby. There are serious risks for your baby if you contract the flu during pregnancy, especially if you run a fever.
- If you are a new parent with a small child at home, especially a baby, you should get a flu shot to minimize the risk of exposure to your children.
Even if you don’t meet any of those criteria, and you’d rather not miss a week of work because you’re too weak to get out of bed, talk to your doctor about scheduling a flu shot.