Chris Howard, DO and Vice President, Medical Operations at MedExpress Urgent Care shared with Healthy Lombard that the flu virus, a highly contagious respiratory illness, is often misunderstood. Those who have had the flu understand just how debilitating it can be, however, if you’ve never had it, getting immunized might not be a high priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), manufacturers distributed a record number of flu vaccine dosages during the 2018-2019 flu season, and experts are hoping to continue that upward trend and encourage even more people to get vaccinated this year. Here are five reasons you won’t regret following their advice:
1. Australia’s flu season has been worse this year
The severity of flu season can’t be predicted with precision; however, the flu strain that recently affected the Southern Hemisphere, in particular, Australia, is a good indicator of what is to come our way. Traditionally, flu season in the Northern Hemisphere (which includes the United States, Europe, and Canada) mirrors the preceding season in the Southern Hemisphere. According to the CDC, we should prepare for a more severe season based upon the strains seen in Australia. The current vaccine, now widely available, is the best defense against this strain and the flu in general.2 The vaccine does not cause the flu, it prevents it
Despite many flu myths that have been debunked, there are still many who fear they’ll get sick after getting the vaccine. We’re here to tell you that the shot does not cause the flu. Some people experience mild irritation at the injection site; however, the vaccine does not contain a live virus and therefore can’t cause the flu. We find that many people confuse minor side effects from the shot, such as swelling, muscle aches or fever, with the virus itself; however, that’s not the case.
3. The chances of flu spreading decrease as more people are immunized
Going without a flu shot can be risky because anyone with a compromised immune system is at greater risk for complications due to the flu; this means children, grandparents, or those with chronic illnesses. As more people commit to getting immunized, the chances of the flu spreading from person to person decrease.
4. It’s easier to diagnose other conditions that mimic the flu
There are many flu “imposters”— illnesses with symptoms that mimic the flu—so it’s common for some people to believe they have the flu when it may be something else entirely. Those who are immunized usually won’t get the flu or will get a much milder version. When in doubt, it’s best to seek medical attention. There are ways to identify the type of illness and recommend a course of treatment that will help alleviate symptoms and potentially prevent complications, such as pneumonia.
The flu can be quite unpredictable, however, there are many experts who research and monitor what flu strains are hitting around the globe. This year, those experts are predicting a more severe flu season. Rather than wait to see what happens, we urge everyone to get their shots now.
5. The height of flu season is just around the corner
We’re mere weeks away from what has traditionally been the height of flu season, which means now is the best time to get a flu shot. This is because it typically takes two weeks for the vaccine to be effective. But, even for those who decide to wait, it’s never too late to get a shot. It’s not uncommon for flu season to go well into spring.