Last winter the flu and related illnesses claimed the lives of more than 80,000 people in the U.S., making it the deadliest season in four decades, yet health professionals worry that many are still ignoring advice to get an annual flu shot, National Public Radio reported.
Speaking at a news conference hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases on Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams stressed that flu vaccines save lives and that it was not just about the individual, but keeping the community safe as well, according to CNN.
The U.S. vaccination target rate is 70 percent, but NPR noted that it only reached 47 percent last year in the U.S.
There are many misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccine, but here are five consensus reasons why the flu shot should not be ignored:
1. Everyone is vulnerable: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone from six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. William Schaffner, medical director at the NFID, noted that the flu does not just impact those vulnerable, but can also knock young, healthy people and put them in intensive care, according to NPR.
2. It’s your social responsibility: Adams noted that it was the moral responsibility of each individual to get vaccinated against the flu as it protected friends, family members and ultimately the community from getting sick and spreading the illness, CNN reported.
3. It can lessen the severity of the flu: You may still get sick from the flu but if you have had your shot, the symptoms may be less severe, CDC noted. This is important considering that flu complications, including pneumonia, send more than 200,000 Americans to the hospital.
4. Your Immune protection declines: Some people skimp on having their regular flu shot but CDC recommends being vaccinated annually, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. This is because a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time.
5. It’s still the most effective preventative measure: The numbers don’t lie. CDC reported that the flu vaccine prevented roughly 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations from 2016 to 2017. Furthermore, the shot can reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 30 percent to 60 percent.
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