When colder weather approaches, it is important to be aware of flu season and the potential dangers that can come with it. Because the common cold and flu share similar symptoms, many people think the flu is just a more severe form of cold. Cold and flu are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. With the flu, your symptoms can be more severe and may include fever, chills, sore throat, cough, body aches, and others.
Influenza (flu) viruses typically spread in fall and winter, with activity peaking between December and February. Getting vaccinated can lower your chances of getting sick, as the flu shot is one of the best ways to reduce flu-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. Richmond University Medical Center provides five reasons why you should get your flu shot.
1. Flu shots are safe.
A common misconception about flu shots is that you will get sick from the vaccine. That is simply not true. The vaccine is safe and recommended for anyone six months old and older. Some people may experience side effects from the flu vaccine, however, including:
- Redness or swelling at the injection site
Side effects from the flu vaccine generally go away on their own within a day or two.
2. Flu shots reduce illnesses caused by influenza.
The flu can cause serious complications that sometimes require hospitalization for treatment. When you get a flu vaccine, your body builds up antibodies to fight against infection with the virus. It is true that the flu vaccine does not always protect you from every strain of the flu, but it does protect you from the most common. Because of that, getting vaccinated every year significantly reduces your risk of getting the flu – and winding up in the hospital.
3. Flu shots are updated annually.
Each year, the strains covered in the flu vaccine are reviewed and adjusted, which is why it is recommended you receive a flu shot annually. Also, your body’s immune response to the vaccine gradually declines, so a yearly vaccine is needed to provide continuous protection.
4. Flu shots protect your loved ones.
Flu shots not only help to protect you, but it also means you are less likely to transmit the flu to those around you. This is especially crucial if you are in close proximity to any with a weakened immune system, such as individuals receiving cancer treatments. While others may only experience a mild case of flu symptoms, those at higher risk can face severe complications from the flu, so it is in everyone’s best interest to get your shot.
5. Flu shots reduce sick days and unplanned time off.
In receiving your flu shot, you may also prevent the need to take sick days or time off from work – rather, you can use that time for a much more enjoyable vacation. Flu shots are arguably even more beneficial for parents, as they can save them from the headache of caring for children while ill.
To learn more about the flu shot or to make an appointment with RUMC in Staten Island, New York, contact us today.