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Why You Should Get the Flu Shot
Have you thought about getting your flu shot this year?
Are you on the fence because you’ve never gotten one before?
Do you wonder if a flu shot will truly make a difference?
Flu shots can be effective at reducing illness in yourself and others in your community. And now more than ever, especially with the pandemic, it’s important to protect yourself from the flu to minimize the community’s risk of spreading sicknesses.
Now that the weather’s getting chilly and the flu season is approaching, we’ve laid out a few reasons below on why you should get your flu shot.
What You Should Know About the Flu
The flu is contagious and is caused by influenza viruses.1 This virus affects your respiratory system, including your throat, nose, and lungs. Some may feel their nose is a little stuffy, while others may start off with a fever.
This flu can range anywhere from mild to severe. You may hear about flu season in particular, which begins in October and reaches its peak between December and February.2
How the flu Spreads
The flu is spread by droplets caused from talking, coughing, and sneezing. These droplets can infect those nearby if they land on the nose or mouth. They can also affect someone if they touch an infected surface and then they touch their nose or mouth.3
Because the flu is easily spread, you’ll want to make sure you’re actively washing your hands during this season as a preventative measure. You should also carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in care you can’t access soap or water.
If you have the flu, you might want to cough into your sleeve so that way you don’t spread germs. It’s also important to consider actively cleaning any surfaces you have accidentally touched on to protect others in your household.
- Sore throat
- Body aches
Even with this list, flu symptoms can vary from person to person.4
It’s also worth mentioning that someone who has the flu is contagious within the first few days they have the virus, whether they are showing symptoms or not.1
If you think you might have the flu, consider staying home so you don’t spread it to others. You should get enough of rest and fluids to help yourself get back on track to recovery.
Mutations over Time
These viruses are constantly changing as they spread from person to person. One of the ways the virus can change is by antigenic drift. This is a small change or mutation in the gene of the virus.5
Think of it this way: the virus wants to survive, and so it will go through different versions in order to do so. However, over time, people may not have immunity to the newer versions of the virus.
Another way the virus can change is by antigenic shift. This is a major change that results in a new virus.5
These mutations are the reason why a new flu vaccine is produced each year.
The Flu Shot Can Reduce Your Chances of Getting the Flu
You may have heard of the importance of getting a flu vaccine. Many of your local pharmacies and doctor’s offices offer it each season, and they most likely ask if you’re interested when you visit.
The vaccine will protect you against the most common viruses.8 However, due to the changes as mentioned above, the vaccine may not always be 100% effective.
The flu vaccine also decreases the extremity of the virus. Most counter-arguments for the flu shot include the fact that those who get the flu shot can still get the flu. This is possible, because making a vaccine that prevents most versions of the virus, is tricky. However, if you get the vaccine and still catch the virus, you may decrease your chance of serious symptoms or getting hospitalized.9
It is critical to get the vaccine early enough before the virus starts spreading in your community. It takes your body about two weeks after the vaccine to build the antibodies needed to protect you.10
Other Ways to Prevent the Flu
Personal hygiene is stressed during flu season because of how easy it can spread or how it can pass through high-touch surfaces. Here are some of the best preventative measures, according to the Cleveland Clinic3:
- Washing your hands
- Using hand sanitizer in public when soap and water are not available
- Refraining from touching your face
- Wipe down high-touch surfaces, such as door knobs, the fridge, etc., often with antibacterial wipes
- Coughing in your elbow to protect those around you
- Stay away from others who show signs of being sick
These preventative measures combined with the flu shot is the most effective combination to prevent you from catching the virus.3
The Flu Shot Can Protect Those around You
If you get a flu shot and lessen your chances of catching the virus, you can decrease the chance of passing it to others as well.
Why Should You Get the Flu Shot This Year?
Now more than ever, getting a flu shot is important. While we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be hard to tell the difference between symptoms of the flu and symptoms of COVID-19.
The flu and COVID-19 share most of the same symptoms such as cough, fever, and body aches. Because it may be hard to tell the difference, you should get the vaccine to protect you from the flu.
It’s also possible to get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.13 This is another reason why you may want to consider protecting yourself from the flu.
However, the same preventative measures people are taking to prevent COVID-19 such as social distancing and wearing a mask, can help prevent the flu as well.
Saber Healthcare Supports the Flu Shot
Saber Healthcare is proud to support our employees and residents in getting their flu shot.
Are you getting your flu shot this year? Did this post teach you something you might not have previously known? Join in on our Flu Shot Campaign! Get your flu shot, take a picture, and tag us in a post!
Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s webpage here for more information and helpful resources: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Key Facts About Influenza (Flu).” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 13th, 2019. Accessed October 8th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm.
- “The Flu Season.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 12th, 2018. Accessed October 8th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm.
- “Flu vs. COVID-19: Can You Tell the Difference?” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. September 10th, 2020. Accessed October 15th, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/flu-vs-covid-19-can-you-tell-the-difference/.
- “You Think It’s the Flu – Now What Should You Do?” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. October 16th, 2019. Accessed October 15th, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/think-youve-got-flu-how-to-decide-what-to-do/.
- “How the Flu Virus Can Change: ‘Drift’ and ‘Shift’.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 15th, 2019. Accessed October 8th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm.
- “How to Prepare for Flu Season in the Time of COVID-19.” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. August 31st, 2020. Accessed October 15th, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-prepare-for-flu-season-in-the-time-of-covid-19/.
- “Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work?” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 3rd, 2020. Accessed October 9th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm.
- “Flu Prevention During Coronavirus Pandemic: Infographic.” Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed October 15th, 2020. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Health/Conditions-and-Diseases/Coronavirus/Flu-Prevention-And-Coronavirus-Infographic.
- “Preventative Steps.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 25th, 2020. Accessed October 9th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/prevention.htm.
- “Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 14th, 2020. Accessed October 9th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.htm#when.
- “People at High Risk For Flu Complications.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 7th, 2020. Accessed October 9th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/index.htm.
- Porter, Eloise. “Flu Season: Importance of Getting a Flu Shot.” Healthline Media, healthline.com, Michael Virata, August 29th, 2020. Accessed October 12th, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/flu/importance-of-flu-shot#risk-factors.
- Merchant, Elise, and Wendy Stead. “Time for flu shots – getting one is more important than ever!” Harvard University, Harvard Health Publishing. September 17th, 2020. Accessed October 12th, 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/time-for-flu-shots-getting-one-is-more-important-than-ever-2020091720972.