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Here Are 7 Reasons to Stop Putting Off Your Flu Shot

Oct. 3, 2017

Have you gone for your yearly flu shot yet? We hope the answer is yes—but statistically, it’s probably no. That’s because only two in five people report getting the vaccine annually, according to a 2016 CDC report. This is in spite of the fact that experts say it’s one of the best health measures you can take each season and will keep you from experiencing the awfulness of flu symptoms like a high fever, chills, and bad cough.

Maybe you’re postponing it because you feel too overwhelmed right now with work. Or you’re blowing it off completely because you’re one of those people who insist they never get the flu anyway. Whatever your thinking is, give this list of reasons to get the vaccine a read—it might help you see the wisdom in rolling up your sleeve.

You’ll cut your flu risk roughly in half

True, the vaccine doesn’t eliminate the possibility of contracting the flu, and how effective the shot is varies from season to season, says Laraine Washer, MD, hospital epidemiologist at University of Michigan Medical Center. But the vaccine used during the 2015-2016 flu season slashed the risk of getting it by roughly 50%, according to one study. And “studies in healthy young adults show that flu vaccination decreases risk of influenza-like illness by 40% to 60% when the flu vaccine is well-matched to circulating viruses,” Dr. Washer explains.

You won’t develop more serious flu-related issues

While fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and a cough are the main symptoms of the flu, “some patients have headaches or a sore throat, and vomiting or diarrhea can occur more often in children,” says Dr. Washer. The real danger, however, is that a bout with the flu could lead to a much more alarming illness. “This includes pneumonia, or a serious complication of [an existing] chronic medical condition,” says Lisa Kearns, MD, MS, clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Friends and family members will thank you

The vaccine isn’t just about keeping you healthy. It also protects the people you know and love—as well as coworkers, neighbors, and strangers you might casually interact with. “Those most at risk include children, pregnant women or women who will be pregnant during flu season, anyone who has a compromised immune system, and people with asthma, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Kearns. “In general, adults older than age 50 are considered higher risk, as well.” But if you don’t get the flu, then your grandmother, your best friend’s new baby, your sister with asthma, and other members of vulnerable groups can’t catch it from you.

Your won’t put your life in danger

Lots of people still think of influenza as extremely unpleasant but relatively harmless. However, the CDC estimates between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations occur as the result of the virus on an annual basis. “In addition, from 12,000 to 56,000 deaths are associated with flu every year,” says Dr. Washer. Fatalities are generally caused by “pneumonia, dehydration, or worsening of other health problems,” she explains. Even if you’re pretty healthy, it’s still possible to end up with a case that could leave you out of commission for weeks.


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