This post is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Orange County but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Despite being a teacher for 14 years, I only got the flu shot once. The one time that I did get the flu shot, I got really sick so I vowed to never get it again. Surprisingly, I didn’t get the flu while teaching because I practiced good hygiene and disinfected everything but I think I was pretty lucky. One of my co-workers told me that they avoid getting sick by wearing a medical face mask when flu season hits. She said that you should find the best face mask for you because we are all different, but she highly recommends getting one. She cites that as the main factor in avoiding flu. It is something I will have to consider if I want to avoid a serious case of the flu going forward. But for now, I will bank on my luck.
When I was pregnant with A, I didn’t get the flu shot either because of my previous experience with getting the shot. I was able to avoid getting sick again but I think I was lucky once again.
After speaking to Dr. Wendy Coling from Kaiser Permanente Orange County, I learned a lot about the importance of flu shots and why every member of our family should get it this flu season. I learned about the grave consequences that NOT getting the flu can cause for even the healthiest of individuals. So I wanted to share with you why I’ll get the flu shot this year.
The risks of NOT getting the flu shot are a lot worse than you think.
The CDC recommends that people who are 6 months and older get the vaccine. About 25-50 million people get the flu and more than 200,000 of them are hospitalized due to the severity of the flu or complications from the virus. More than 36,000 people die from complications of the flu.
Whenever I heard about individuals who suffer from complications after getting the flu, I assumed they had a preexisting health condition which contributed to them getting worse. I was very surprised to learn that it wasn’t always the case! More than half the kids who died from complications were healthy to begin with before they got the flu. This was eye opening! Even the healthiest of people could develop pneumonia, dehydration, meningitis, and liver failure. Getting the vaccine is the best way to prevent an infection. You could still get the flu despite getting the vaccine but you won’t get as sick. If you want more information on the vaccine itself, I suggest you visit http://www.prothesesmammaires.org/ and read the blog post called Vaccines That Have Saved Lives.
The side effects from the flu shot are minimal.
One of the reasons why I steered clear of flu shots was because I got sick and felt terrible afterwards. It’s normal to have some side effects such as localized soreness, low grade fevers and aches. You can treat those side effects with Tylenol or ibuprofen. Despite what I thought, the flu shot can not give you the flu because it contains viruses that have been inactivated. There is a very rare association between the flu vaccine and Gillian Barre Syndrome so you should not get the flu vaccine if you have had Gillian Barre in the past.
Even if you “never get sick” you could be carrying the virus.
“I don’t get the flu,” is what I said all the time. Did you know that 1 out of 3 people who don’t get sick can still carry the virus and spread it to others? This was also very eye opening and made me want to put on a hazmat suit (totally not practical or realistic.)
Flu season begins in the fall and lasts into spring. As soon as the vaccine is available, you should get it to protect yourself and your family from the flu.
Pregnant women should get the vaccine because it’s safe and effective in all trimesters. It’s also safe for breastfeeding moms. Infants are 70% less likely to get the flu if moms get the vaccine.
Even those with egg allergies can get the vaccine but as long as their worst reaction to eggs is hives. If they have other reactions to eggs, they can still get the vaccine but should be under the supervision of a doctor and in a medical setting in case their reaction is severe.
What if you get the flu? You could get supportive care such as rest, lots of fluids and eat if you can. If you do come down with it, please don’t spread the virus by going to work or sending your kids to school. You should seek medical attention if you have shortness of breath, dehydration and high fevers (103-104).
There’s really no excuse to not get the vaccine. Do you get the flu shot every year? Will you be getting it this year?