Planning to skip your flu shot? The CDC recommends everyone six months or older get vaccinated at some point during flu season, yet only 42.2 percent of adults received their flu vaccination during the 2014-2015 season. Why? We can think of at least seven common excuses—and bust them all.
“I Never Get Sick!”
Well, there’s a first time for everything. Plus, flu shots protect other people, too. You could carry the virus without having symptoms and pass it on to someone else. If that person’s a young child or older adult, they could be in big trouble: both groups are at a higher risk for flu complications than the general population. So if you don’t do it for you, do it for grandma or your best friend’s new baby.
“I’m Allergic to Eggs!”
Yes, the influenza vaccine is made using an egg-based manufacturing process that has been in existence for more than 70 years. However, new research indicates that it is safe for most people with egg allergies to receive the shot (though a physician should be present when you get it). There are also new versions of the shot that use animal cells rather than eggs, removing the risk entirely.
“It Doesn’t Work!”
Because the flu virus mutated early in the season, the 2014 flu shot had just a 14 percent effectiveness rate. That has a lot of people saying the flu shot isn’t worth the trouble. But the shot is 50-60 percent effective most years, and reducing your risk of severe symptoms by more than half is nothing to scoff at. Plus, even when the vaccine doesn’t protect you fully, it can make symptoms less severe and increase herd immunity.
“I Got it Last Year!
Influenza is constantly mutating, and the shot is adjusted every year to protect against new strains of the virus. Plus, your body’s response to immunization lessens as time goes on. Therefore, an annual shot is essential.
Although pregnant women shouldn’t get their dose via the mist or spray, the inactivated flu shot is perfectly safe. Also, pregnant women are at a greater risk for complications from the flu, as are their unborn child. The dose is vital to protecting you and your baby.
“I Waited Too Long!”
Flu season starts in early October and usually peaks in January; because the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective it’s best to get the dose sooner rather than later. But outbreaks can happen as late as May, so missing your yearly dose early on is no reason to skip. Some protection is better than none.
“I’m Scared of Needles!”
If needles give you the creeps, you still have two options. The intradermal flu shot is injected into the skin; though it does have a needle, it’s much smaller than most vaccines—and it’s safe for anyone 18 to 64 years old. Still too much? The nasal spray vaccine has no needles at all, and it’s safe for anyone 2 to 49 years old.