Flu Shot: Get it to Avoid Hospitalization
Are you having a headache, a little feverish perhaps? With a runny nose, sore throat, coughs and body aches and pains? Chances are that you are having the flu.
And it is not surprising because this time of the year is dubbed as the “flu season.”
What is surprising is if you haven’t had a flu shot.
The flu is a serious disease that causes illness, and maybe hospitalization. If complications arise from the disease, it can result in unexpected death.
But what, precisely, is flu?
What is flu?
Flu (short for Influenza), is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses, Types A and B.
They are very active during the cold and low-humidity months (Fall to Spring) because the low humidity allows the virus to float freely in the air. During the rest of the year, when the humidity is high, they absorb water droplets in the air, become heavy, and harmlessly fall to the ground.
Elderly people are particularly at risk of complications because of pre-existing medical conditions or other factors like a weak immune system, poor nutrition, or nonavailability of someone to look after them.
All these make it necessary to have an annual flu shot.
What is a flu shot?
A flu shot is a vaccine intended to protect you against the flu, or prevent complications should you get it.
It is to be taken annually because new versions are released each year to keep up with the virus’ rapid evolution.
Although it doesn’t provide total protection, it is the most effective way to avoid it and, probably, hospitalization.
I have been getting it for the past three years. My daughter, a doctor, makes sure that I won’t miss a shot.
It often makes me feel ridiculous to be taking these shots after all these years. I have survived this far without it, I can survive a few more, won’t I? I believe I am impervious to the disease.
But am I? Are you?
Millions of Americans catch the flu each year, resulting in hundreds of hospitalizations. And between 2010 and 2017, flu-related deaths ranged from 12,000 to 56,000 a year (the wide margin is because no precise data is available).
No age distribution is available, either. But a study done by the Navarra Institute for Health Research in Pamplona, Spain, involving elderly people, 65 +, shows that regular flu vaccination reduces the risk of ICU admission by 74% and flu-related deaths by 70%.
Misconceptions about the flu shot:
It is possible that some seniors are hesitant to get a flu shot because of some misconceptions handed down to them, by word-of-mouth, through the years.
I had one: Vaccinations make people sick.
I developed this when I got down with a fever after my DPT (Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, which are now discontinued) shot as a child.
Some people may get sick after a vaccination. But it is best to consult a doctor than spread the experience around scaring others from getting the shot.
I have outgrown that misconception after several vaccinations through the years. You should, too.
It makes me feel a little sluggish, though My arm feels heavy and the injection point, sore and reddish. But all these will go away in a day or two.
Others may have allergic reactions to the shot. Again, this is not something that won’t go away in a few hours or days.
Whatever you feel against a flu shot, look at it from the risk/benefit angle to help you make the right decision. It is tough to be sick at any age. Tougher when you are old and weak.
Please share with other seniors to encourage them not to miss a flu shot. You will do them a great good.