The discussion begins every year at this time. Do I really need to get the flu vaccine? People debate their rights, some wonder about vaccines causing an illness and most get it to protect themselves and those they love.
For many people, it’s not an issue. In fact, on average 41% of adults and 56% of children receive the flu vaccine each year.
Deaths from flu-related complications vary widely from year to year. Last year, the flu vaccine effectiveness against flu A (H3N2) virus – which was the main virus – was estimated to be 47%, while effectiveness against flu B was 67% for all ages.
You may question the benefit of getting the flu vaccine if you rarely get sick. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.
While you may be healthy and bounce back after a few days, the same strain of the virus could cause pneumonia for your Aunt Mary and keep her laid up for weeks afterwards. Your grandson Timmy may not have as many reserves built up since he’s had a several throat infections recently. The flu virus you expose him to could be all that’s needed for him to become ill enough to need IV fluids in the hospital before he feels better.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine this season, it’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Pregnant women.
- People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), and people 65 years and older.
- People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications (see list above).
- Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old.
- Health care workers.