Let me share with you a couple tragic stories about the flu…
5-year-old Scarlet was at school when her mother received a call from the school nurse that Scarlet had a fever. So Mom went to school and brought Scarlet home to care for her. The next day, Scarlet’s breathing became labored and raspy, so Mom rushed her to the local Emergency Room. Three and one-half hours later, Scarlet passed away. This tragedy occurred in 2014, one of the worst influenza seasons in decades. Read the rest of the story here.
In 2016, 20-year-old Brittany developed a raspy throat and took some over the counter medication, and told her mother, Frankie, she felt better. The next morning, Brittany’s symptoms returned, and shortly before noon, Frankie the Mom was unable to arouse her daughter or get a pulse. 911 was called. At the hospital, Brittany was diagnosed with influenza A (a common strain) AND sepsis. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection…it is a life-threatening situation. It occurs when an infection you already have triggered a chain reaction throughout your body that rapidly leads to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Read the rest of the story here.
Here’s my flu story…I never got sick (sound similar?). Not even a cold. Then about 15 years ago, the flu hit me hard and I thought I was going to die. The constant headaches were unimaginably painful, liken it to a sword piercing your head that never ends. The vomiting, muscle and joint aches, and diarrhea! I stayed in bed for one week, unable to eat or move. Yes, it was that bad. I probably should have been in the hospital. Since then, I always get the flu shot. Post stem cell transplant, my transplant team recommends the flu shot every year, even while you are immmunosuppressed…any protection is better than none. The first 2 years post stem cell transplant, my body did not react to the vaccine. This year, 2 years and 3 months post-transplant, I developed fevers of 101-102 degrees for 2 days…it was my immune system beginning to work by fighting a foreign substance.
Sharing these stories with you is not to scare you, but to alert you to the dangers of foregoing the flu shot. I’ve heard many people comment on why they don’t get flu shots…
‘I never get the flu shot’
‘I never get sick.’
‘The flu shot makes me sick.’
‘I had a bad reaction to the flu shot.’
And on and on. But no one ever has given a good reason for their choices. Let me go over a few facts about the flu shot and why it’s important to get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated.
A Few Facts On Why You Should Get The Flu Shot
- During the 2017-2018 flu season, the severity of the flu rose for all age groups…children, adults 18-64 and adults >65 yrs. Click here for a clearer view of the CDC graph. According to the CDC, over 80,000 persons died from the flu during last year’s flu season of which 180 were children aged 0-17 years (CNN).
- The earlier, the better
The sooner you get your flu shot, the sooner your body can start building up to full immunity. It takes about 2 weeks after you get vaccinated for your body to develop the antibodies to protect you against the flu virus. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Flu season may peak as early as the holidays, and you want to be prepared.
- Who should get the flu vaccine? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends yearly flu vaccination for people 6 months and older.
- When should you get vaccinated? Get vaccinated by the end of October.
- Who’s at risk?
- Children, especially school-aged children, are more likely to catch the flu. Millions of children get sick with the flu every year. A typical flu illness can mean missing a week or more of school. Once infected, children can easily spread the flu to family members and friends.
- Some people are more vulnerable to complications. People with compromised immune systems, such as chemotherapy patients or the elderly, are more likely to have serious complications from the flu. And they may not be able to get the flu shot themselves. So it’s especially important that the people around them get vaccinated.
- Pregnant women can protect their babies by getting the flu shot. The immunity you build will pass to your developing baby. Since infants are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu, but can’t get a flu shot until they’re 6 months old, vaccination during pregnancy is the best way to protect your baby from getting the flu. And the flu shot has been shown to protect both you and your baby from flu for several months after you give birth.
- Everyone is at risk of getting the flu. Even healthy people get sick enough to miss significant time from work or school — or be hospitalized. So your entire family needs to get a flu shot every year.
- Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received the flu shot over the last 50 years. There’s also been extensive research supporting the safety of seasonal flu vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The flu shot can help reduce the effects of the flu, even if you or a loved one catches it.
- The flu shot doesn’t contain an active flu virus, so it can’t give you the flu.
- You need to get this year’s flu shot for the best protection since the flu virus changes every year.
- By getting vaccinated, you also help protect the people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like small children and people with compromised immune systems.
The main takeaway is EVERYONE (except infants less than 6 months) need to get the flu vaccine.