The Doctor’s Note: Should I get a flu shot?

Winter is approaching, so it is time to decide whether or not to get a flu shot. The flu shot is the single best way to prevent the flu, but less than half of all Americans get one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that almost everyone over 6 months of age get a flu shot this year. Let’s take a look at some facts that support how the flu shot can be beneficial.

Fact #1

Preventing flu is easier and more effective than trying to treat the flu. While getting a flu shot won’t guarantee a season without the flu, evidence shows it generally reduces your risk by more than 50%. Those who get the flu when they have received the vaccine often get a milder illness.

Fact #2

The flu shot is safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Pregnant women are at higher risk for complications from the flu, so immunization is even more important for this population. Additionally, the flu shot during pregnancy helps to protect the baby during the first 6 months of life, when they can’t get the flu shot themselves.

Fact #3

On average, about 24,000 Americans will die from complications of the flu in a given year. The highest risk groups are older adults, children less than five years of age, pregnant women, and those with chronic health problems. But we are all at risk, and typically adults between 18 and 64 account for more than half of the reported flu hospitalizations in a season.

When deciding whether or not you and your loved ones will get the flu shot this season, remember to consider the facts.

Michael Atwood, M.D., CHIE, is the vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. He is a board certified family physician and an American Academy of Family Physicians fellow.

11 thoughts on “The Doctor’s Note: Should I get a flu shot?

  1. The flu shot is not in any way the most important step in preventing the flu. Do your homework. You will discover, as I have, that the flu vaccine does not even come remotely close to living up to all the glowing hype and propaganda that you constantly see and hear about how wonderful it is. You don’t build strong immunity with a vaccine. You do that by living right: by eating right, getting sufficient sleep, exercising, avoiding tobacco, sugar, and other harmful products, by taking sufficient immune-building supplements such as vitamin C, echinacea, garlic, and cloves, to name a few immune builders, and by handling stress properly. The flu shot plays no role whatsoever in building a strong, healthy, disease-resistant body.

  2. It would be helpful to include information about where to get a flu shot that would be covered under insurance. You have us convinced – now where do we go?

    1. In Emporia, KS, where can I get a flu shot that my insurance will cover. I should not have to pay a copay or waste one of my copays on an immunization that BCBS says is covered 100%, however I have a triple option plan and am limited to only 5 copays per year.

  3. I pretty much always get a flu shot…but my family will not take one as they feel they have been sick all winter afterwards.

  4. In the early 90’s I had a terrible reaction to flu vaccine. Heaviness on chest and a 1 inch dark spot completely around injection site. What could have caused this? My doctor said no more flu vaccinations.

    1. I too got sick and body joint pain for more than 6 months and couldn’t move my arm without excruciating pain for at least 2 weeks. Haven’t taken one since then.

    2. Oh no! Sorry to hear this, Diana. It would be best to consult with your doctor about what that may mean and future flu vaccinations.

    1. Thank you, Susan. We would suggest consulting with your doctor about any sort of vaccinations, regardless of your age.

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