Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to the seasonal flu. While for some, influenza is characterized by inconvenient body aches, chills, congestion, cough, and headaches, for others— particularly seniors, young children, and adults living with other health complications, the flu can be deadly. The single best thing that you can do to protect yourself every year from contracting the flu is to get a flu shot. If you have historically been reticent to get the flu shot, perhaps because of misguidance you’ve received about possible risks and side effects, your care team is setting the record straight on the clinically proven pros and cons of obtaining the influenza vaccine.
Pro #1: The flu shot protects your loved ones from getting sick
Perhaps you feel like you’re generally healthy, and when do get sick, it’s mild. For the elderly, children, or immunocompromised relatives, contracting the flu, especially due to the novel coronavirus, could pose a health complication. By obtaining a flu vaccine, you can reduce your risk of contracting the flu, which means you reduce your risk of being a carrier and passing the virus on to someone for whom a flu diagnosis is much more severe. Even if you don’t feel that you need to obtain a flu shot, do it for your family. After all, there is nothing you wouldn’t do for those you love, right?
Con # 1: If you are one of the small percentages of individuals with an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine or its ingredients, you could experience an allergic reaction
Overall, the flu shot is overwhelmingly safe and remains the most significant protective measure that you can take to protect yourself from getting sick this flu season. The flu vaccine includes a variety of substances, both naturally occurring and chemically based, which could be allergens for some individuals. There are alternative versions of the flu shot available that exclude certain ingredients that are known allergens for some patients. If you have never had the flu vaccine, but know that you have allergies to some food or chemical-based substances, talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible side effects to understand your options.
Pro # 2: You reduce your risk of time away from work and meaningful activities
People miss seventeen million workdays every year due to the flu, costing businesses $7 billion in lost productivity and incurring $10 billion in medical health care costs, including hospital visits. Regardless of whether or not you are an exempt or non-exempt employee, your company needs you. Obtaining a flu vaccine will reduce your risk of contracting the flu and missing time away from your job. It also protects your co-workers from contracting the flu from you if you unknowingly carry it into the office before you experience symptoms. This safeguard means that your peers can also mitigate their risk of lost productivity and time away from the office.
Con # 2: You might experience some mild discomfort when you obtain the flu vaccine
Such discomfort includes a mild pinch and a burn at the moment of injection and a few days of some muscle soreness. This discomfort, it should be said, pales in comparison to the misery of days spent with a high fever, body aches, chills, congestion, and difficulty breathing.
In summary, obtaining the flu vaccine protects you and your loved ones from what could become a severe health complication, and keeps you at work and participating in your day-to-day activities. There is a small chance that you might experience an allergic reaction, which your doctor can help you to guard against, and you might experience mild soreness at the injection site for a few days. Overwhelmingly, it’s clear that the pros of obtaining a flu vaccine far outweigh the cons.