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Top Ten Reasons to Get a Flu Shot

Flu season is upon us, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone 6 months and older get an annual influenza (flu) vaccine. Whether you’re a loyal taker or just considering getting a flu vaccine for the first time, here are some helpful reminders of why that little shot (or spray) is a good idea.

1.  Flu can be serious, even if you’re healthy. While certain people are at higher risk for flu complications, even healthy people are at risk for severe complications associated with flu including pneumonia, dehydration, ear or sinus infections, or worsening of chronic health conditions. A new study found that more than 40 percent of kids who die from flu have no other chronic health problems.

Need more persuading? Read these families’ firsthand accounts.

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Hold those kisses! Have you gotten your flu vaccine?

2.  Babies. They’re cute and cuddly and irresistible and you just can’t wait to smother that new babe with kisses. But you know what’s not cute? Passing the influenza virus to a baby who is too young to be protected by vaccination and especially vulnerable to severe complications.

Many adults don’t realize they’re contagious with flu. Most healthy adults who get the flu may able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. By vaccinating those closest to baby, a concept known as ‘cocooning,’ you can help reduce their risk of exposure.

3.  Grandparents. Just like babies, seniors are at higher risk for flu complications. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. Why not reduce the chance of getting sick and spreading flu by vaccinating yourself and encouraging all family members, including grandparents, to get protected too?

4.  It’s good for your heart. A study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that getting the flu vaccine lowers a person’s chances of having a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or other major cardiac event by 36 percent over the following year. The study also found that for those who had a recent heart attack getting the flu shot lowered the odds of having a second heart attack by 55 percent.

5.  Some people rely on you for protection. In addition to infants, immunocompromised individuals – such as children and adults who have cancer or certain conditions – may not be able to receive vaccines and depend on the vaccinated members of their community to protect them against illnesses like flu.

6.  Less cost and fewer sick days. Flu has a major impact on work, school and everyday life. In the US, flu costs total around $4.6 billion each year. These costs include hospitalization, doctors’ office visits, medications, etc. Additionally, up to 111 million workdays are lost because of flu in a typical season, costing an estimated $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity. The impact is even greater during severe flu seasons. A Walgreen’s report states that US adults missed 230 million work days in the 2012-13 flu season, while children missed more than 90 million school days due to flu-related illness.

Since the peak of flu season often coincides with the winter holidays, it can also be a Scrooge to holiday festivities. The same report found that 17 million holiday events and 11 million vacations were missed during the 2012-13 season.

7.  It’s safe. The most common side effects are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the flu shot was given and nasal congestion after the flu vaccine nasal spray. The risk of serious allergic reaction is very rare, about one in a million. By contrast, getting the flu is much more dangerous.

8.  Being sick stinks, and hospital stays are even worse. More than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized with flu-related complications each year. In Colorado, 1,528 people were hospitalized with flu during the 2012-13 flu season.

9.  You’re pregnant, or planning to become pregnant.
According to the CDC, “changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu as well as hospitalizations and even death.” Flu also poses a risk to unborn babies, including premature labor and delivery and miscarriage/stillbirth. Studies have also shown that flu during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk for autism and may increase the child’s risk for bipolar disorder. Getting vaccinated annually is a safe way to protect mom and baby (up to six months after birth!) from flu.

10.  Staying healthy! Just think about the added ski days, holiday shopping and time with family and friends you’ll gain when you’re healthy and protected!

Although not 100 percent effective, the flu vaccine is the best defense we have against seasonal flu. To find the flu clinic nearest you, visit flushot.healthmap.org. Remember, earlier is better!

Why do YOU get a flu vaccine? Tweet us your top reasons @ImmunizeCOKids!

Still not convinced the flu vaccine is for you? Read all the flu vaccine myths – and get the facts – in these articles and blog posts:
Setting the record straight: Debunking ALL the flu vaccine myths – Red Wine and Applesauce
It’s Time for Flu Shots – Seattle Mama Doc
Top 13 Flu Myths – WebMD

Additional resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Flu.gov
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Vaccine Education Center
American Academy of Pediatrics – healthychildren.org
Families Fighting Flu
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Immunize for Good

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