Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Influenza Facts and Fiction

I got my flu shot this morning at work.  Did you get one this year?

According to the CDC, about 5% to 20% of Americans come down with influenza each year but each year is different and it can spread quickly through a population that isn't vaccinated.

I was curious how many of us get the vaccination each year so I looked it up.  Last year only 42% of the US population received the vaccination.  I was a little surprised by this until I realized that a quick poll of my coworkers showed that only 38% of us got them this year so that seems like it might be accurate. (Admittedly my poll is not at all scientific - I simply asked all my coworkers in my small office whether they got the flu shot this year.)

I've heard many reasons why people don't get the shot but some of them are based on misconceptions. One big one is that flu shots can cause the flu.  This is false.  The virus used in the flu shot is dead so it cannot cause you to get the flu.

Another misconception is that if you are young and healthy, you don't need to get the flu shot.  While it is true that you might be more likely to fight off the illness without any nasty repercussions, you might want to consider those around you.  Infants younger than 6 months old and people allergic to eggs are unable to be vaccinated against influenza so they could catch the disease from you.  It's something to think about.  I know one of my reasons for getting the vaccine is so that I don't infect any of the infants or young children in our family when we get together over the holidays. Unfortunately, one of my nieces has refused, thus far, to allow her son (who is 3) to receive any vaccinations at all so I feel I should get vaccinated, myself, in an attempt to protect him from his parent's ignorance. Yes, I am really bent out of shape by the whole anti-vax movement. Don't get me started.

There are tons of myths concerning the flu as well as the vaccine.  I found a good list of them here that I highly recommend reading.  If we make a point of educating ourselves, we can make decisions based on facts rather than myths.

Image by United States Department of Health and Human Services [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Cost is doubtless also a factor in getting flu shots. I haven't had money for it since I lost my job, and the years it wasn't provided free by my office, well, getting one elsewhere still cost more than the combined copays for an office visit plus several prescriptions.

    1. I hadn't thought about cost but I'm sure that could be a factor. Our shots at work only cost us $7 and they're available at several pharmacies for $20 to $25 up here but I'm sure that varies by region and with availability.