Last year was one of the worst flu seasons in years with thousands of Americans dying from influenza or pneumonia. 100 years ago was the pandemic of 1918 and it claimed the lives of 670,000 American men, women, and children and as many as 50 to 100 million people worldwide. Due to this deadly outbreak, medical researchers learned the importance of getting vaccinated.
It is a lesson that much of the public continues to ignore, even as our scientific understanding of communicable diseases continues to grow. Those who hadn't been immunized and don't plan on it cited a variety of reasons. The top factors include a belief that a flu shot is unnecessary for them (48 percent of the group), concerns about side effects or risks (16 percent) and worries that the vaccine could infect them with the flu (14 percent). About 8 percent of the people who plan to skip vaccination said it's because they believe it's ineffective.
The main reasons health professionals believe you should get the flu shot are:
- That the new antiviral medications prescribed for flu do not eliminate flu symptoms and therefore, do not have the same result as the vaccine.
- Strains of the flu virus change every year, and new vaccines are produced to counter them as soon as they are identified. In addition, the vaccine loses its potency after a year. So, the vaccination you had last year will not be effective against this year’s virus.
- There’s no live virus in the injectable vaccine, so you can’t get the flu from the shot.
- The flu can be very serious. Approximately 36,000 people die from the flu and flu-related complications in the U.S. each year. Ninety-five percent of these deaths occur in individual’s age 65 and older. The flu shot protects you, and it will help keep you from spreading it to individuals in this vulnerable age category.