Prior to H1N1, flu shots were not on the top of anyone’s mind when flu season came up. Those who wanted the protection got it, and those who didn’t risked catching the disease. Since H1N1, the shot has become more of an issue.
This year, the CDC is making a particularly strong effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible. This may be in order to prevent another flu scare like H1N1 or they may know something we don’t. Either way, this urgency needs to be addressed.
Who needs the shot? Health care workers, those who work with children, anyone who works with the general public and those with certain medical conditions need the shot. The first three are in the bull’s eye area for infection. Those with medical conditions could potentially lose their lives if they caught the flu.
Who can’t have it? There are people who can’t have the shot. Most of them are allergic to one of the components of the vaccine or have had bad reactions to the shot in the past. This can only be decided by your doctor.
Protection by the Numbers: It is theoretically possible to protect people who haven’t gotten the vaccine if most of the people around them have. It’s a risk, because there is some resistance to the idea of getting any vaccination. It really isn’t a good idea to assume you’ll be safe because everyone else will get vaccinated. That’s what they may be thinking about you.
What the Shot Doesn’t Mean: The shot isn’t one hundred percent accurate. Part of that is because scientists have to make an educated guess about which strains will be prevalent long before “flu season” starts. They’re usually right, but sometimes there is just enough difference that you will catch it.
Other Flu Prevention Methods: There are other things you can and should do to avoid the flu…or any other illness. Frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, antibacterial wipes on shopping carts; all of these are still needed. Even if you don’t catch the flu, there are plenty of other bugs around that you can catch.
The bottom line is that avoiding the flu shot is a risk. Even young, healthy people can be killed by a particularly bad case. The only good reason for not getting one is if you are medically unable to do so.