You need a flu shot. I will say it again, you need a flu shot. Flu cases are on the rise currently, see this article from the CDC. Yes, the flu most commonly affects the very young and the very old, but each year young adults are hospitalized and die because of the influenza virus. I'm writing today to dispel some myths and tell you that you can be a part of the solution.
As a part of routine care at Plum Health, I offer a flu shot to all of my members. It costs $10.53 because I buy it at wholesale and I don't mark up the cost. Inevitably, objections are raised by my patients. The most common being "I've never had the flu, so I don't see the point in getting the vaccine" or "I seem to get the flu after I get the flu shot".
First of all, the vaccine strain produced this year is a particularly good one. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common. For 2016-2017, three-component vaccines are recommended to contain:
- A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus,
- A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus and a
- B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (B/Victoria lineage).
Second, you can't get the flu from getting the influenza vaccine. When you get a flu shot (influenza vaccine), I inject inactivated viral particles, not the virus itself. By giving you inactive viral particles or proteins from the virus, your body's immune system is able to recognize these as foreign and mount an immune response. During that immune response, you may have a slight temperature and you may feel tired and your body shifts it's energy to meet your immune system's needs, but you will not get "the flu" because you don't have the whole virus.
Because you get the flu shot, your body will recognize the actual virus should you get it. When your body sees the proteins that make up the virus, it will mount an even stronger immune response, killing the virus more quickly and keeping you out of the hospital.
Common places to pick up the flu virus include door knobs, the treadmill at the gym, the grocery store key pad, the gas pump, etc... You can't possibly disinfect all of these surfaces, so just do yourself a favor, be proactive and get the flu shot.
Importantly, influenza activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and March. Additionally, the flu season can last until May.
I say that you can be a part of the solution because you can prevent the spread of the flu. One, get the flu shot. If you happen to get the virus, it will be easier for your immune system to fight it and you will be less likely to pass it on to your loved ones. Even if you're "fine" without it, your grand parents, parents, children, nieces, and nephews may not. So, by protecting yourself, you can protect them.
Finally, wash your hands well! This is probably one of the best things that you can do to prevent the spread of germs, viruses, and bacteria.
Thanks for reading and have a great day,
- Paul Thomas, MD