- A lot of fuss has been made about flu shots this year. Specifically, flu vaccinations have been in the news because the strain of flu in this year's shots is not the most common flu strain that's circulating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that since the vaccine viruses for 2014-2015 were chosen, the most common form of the flu has mutated, or "drifted."
- That doesn't mean your shot is worthless, though! In fact, you're better off getting a flu shot, even if it doesn't exactly match the strains that are circulating. Here are five reasons to get your flu vaccination.
1. The vaccine provides protection, even if it's not a "good" match.
- CDC says you're at least partially covered. "Yes, antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different, but related, viruses," the CDC says on its flu season webpage. "A less-than-ideal match...can still provide some protection against influenza illness."
- In fact, this year's flu vaccine reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by 23 percent, says CDC. Plus, each season's vaccine targets three or four virus strains, so you're protected for multiple viruses.
2. It gives extra protection to at-risk populations.
- Some groups, including seniors, kids younger than 5, pregnant women, people in nursing homes and American Indians and Alaska Natives, as well as people with some chronic health conditions, are all more susceptible to flu and its complications. A flu shot protects these people from multiple strains of flu, and that keeps them safer from risks like pneumonia, sinus infections, bronchial infections and even death.
3. The flu shot doesn't "give you the flu."
- Far from it. In fact, when you get the flu shot, the vaccine will not make you sick with flu. That's because it's made of deactivated flu strains. It doesn't have the power to give you flu! You can have common symptoms like soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling after vaccination, but they usually don't last long.
4. The flu is gosh-darn EVERYWHERE.
- In the CDC's latest Fluview report, it found that the entire United States is at an "elevated" risk for flu this year. Flu can cause many symptoms, including fever, aches, shivers, sore throat and runny nose. But it can also lead to other illnesses, like pneumonia, if not treated. And the flu can be deadly: 96 children died during the 2013-14 flu season in the U.S.
5. It provides community protection.
- When you get a flu vaccine, you're not just protecting yourself — you're protecting everyone around you. In the journal PLOS One, a study was published that shows that in one community where half of all kids ages 5 to 17 got flu vaccines, the entire age group's flu rates dropped by 79 percent.
- What's more, the University of Florida, where the study was conducted, found that "the rate of influenza-like illness among 0- to 4-year-olds went down 89 percent, despite the fact that this group was not included in the school-based vaccinations. Among all non-school-aged residents, rates of flu-like illness decreased by 60 percent."
- Just imagine what kind of numbers we could see if everyone got the flu vaccine! So even if you're not motivated to get it for yourself, if you care about your community's health, you should get vaccinated.
- By Lindsey Wahowiak, The Nation's Health.