Image licensed under Creative Commons.
By Campbell Turner, Correspondent
Amidst the COVID chaos it can be hard to remember that we need to protect our bodies from more than just that. Unfortunately, other diseases don’t stop just because another has claimed the limelight. Luckily, protecting yourself from the flu is as simple as going to your local pharmacy. However if you still aren’t fully sold on the idea of getting a flu shot, this article will break down the reasons why getting a flu shot is more important this year than ever before.
So, why is a flu shot important in the first place? It all starts with a chopped up organism. “Vaccines contain weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism (antigen) that triggers an immune response within the body. Newer vaccines contain the blueprint… rather than the antigen itself. Regardless of whether the vaccine is made up of the antigen itself or the blueprint so that the body will produce the antigen, this weakened version will not cause the disease in the person receiving the vaccine, but it will prompt their immune system to respond much as it would have on its first reaction to the actual pathogen,” according to the World Heath Organization (WHO).
COVID and other respiratory illnesses such as the flu share a few symptoms, something Emma Rasmussen found out the hard way, “As soon as the [COVID] results came back negative and the antibiotics did their thing, I decided I wasn’t taking any chances with everything going on and went to Fry’s immediately after to get a flu shot. I did it for the peace of mind and to possibly help rule it out in the future if I were to get sick again. It covers 4 strains.”
On top of the peace of mind we could all use in 2020, vaccinations are even more important for those belonging to at-risk communities and demographics. According to the CDC, “Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by about one-half.”
And just like how wearing a mask can help keep those around you safe, getting a flu shot can protect others too: “Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions,” says the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
In addition to the help they can offer your immune system, immunizations help hospital staff, which, in a year where our doctors have been more overworked than ever before, is crucial. “During 2018-2019, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 4.4 million influenza illnesses, 2.3 million influenza-associated medical visits, 58,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 3,500 influenza-associated deaths,” according to the CDC. For many people, undergoing a simple five minute process can help. So before your trip home, consider getting a flu shot. That’s a gift everyone will be grateful for.