It’s that time of year that everyone dreads: flu season. Health departments, government agencies, school boards, and even corporations are pushing everyone to get the flu shot to in order to stay sniffle and fever-free. But before you opt for vaccinations, be sure you make an informed decision by considering some of the pros and cons associated with vaccination.
Here’s the basic information I think every patient should know before they get the flu shot:
What is the flu?
Symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and/or cough. In most cases, the illness lasts three to seven days, but some people have more severe cases or complications that require hospitalization. In the U.S., an estimated 25-50 million cases of the flu are currently reported each year—leading to 150,000 hospitalizations and 30,000-40,000 deaths yearly. If these figures were to be estimated incorporating the rest of the world, there would be an average of approximately 1 billion cases of flu, around 3-5 million cases of severe illness, and 300,000-500,000 deaths annually. Most of those who die are elderly, young children or people with compromised immune systems.
Pros of the flu shot:
- Flu shots can decrease the risk of upper respiratory illness by 25%.
- Flu shots can reduce work absenteeism due to illness by 36%.
- Flu shots can reduce doctor visits for upper respiratory illness by 44%.
- In addition to helping elderly people avoid an unpleasant and possibly dangerous illness, a flu shot can provide some protection against hospitalization for heart disease and stroke.
- Immunizing high-risk people prevents many potential deaths from influenza. Immunization of those who care for high-risk people decreases the potential of spreading the flu from otherwise healthy people to those who are at higher risk of complications.
Cons of the flu shot:
- As a naturopath I believe the influenza vaccine should not be recommended for all people.