Flu Season is Upon Us! No one wants to get the flu, but many of us aren’t fully aware that coming down with the dreaded virus might mean more than just a few weeks of misery. Last winter saw the most flu-related deaths in the US in many years: more than 80,000 Americans died of the flu during the 2017-2018 flu season. Among those 80,000 were 180 children, more than any other year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started keeping track of pediatric flu-related deaths.
There is a simple way to greatly reduce your risk – and your children’s risk – of dying from the flu: get vaccinated. But many people are reluctant. Some think that the flu vaccine can give them the flu, which is not true. And many people think that they just don’t need the vaccination if they are otherwise healthy. Others believe that since any year’s vaccine might be a poor match for the circulating flu strains, it’s just not worth getting.
But the fact of the matter is that the flu vaccine saves lives, even in years when the vaccine is a poor match for the season’s predominantly circulating strains, as it was last winter. In a poor-match season, even partial immunity can reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms. It also greatly reduces the risk of death from the flu. 80% of the children who died of the flu last winter were unvaccinated.
As we head into the season of colds and flu, we can all take steps to stay as healthy as possible: wash our hands frequently; get plenty of sleep and exercise; eat a healthy diet; and be sure to get vaccinated for the flu! The flu vaccine is never perfect, but it always adds protection for our communities and our families – and that alone is worth the effort.