Should You Get the Flu Shot?
Each year, millions of Americans ask that question – and more than half the adult population say, “no.”
That’s right. Only about 40 percent of Americans get the flu vaccine every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite the fact that it’s the best protection against getting influenza.
Why do so few people get the vaccine? It’s complicated, but more than half of unvaccinated adults don’t believe the flu vaccine offers any value, according to a 2011 Rand Corporation study. In a 2015 Truven Health Analytics–NPR Health Poll, 48 percent said they didn’t think the flu vaccine was necessary for them.
Studies also show that age seems to be the biggest common denominator in people who don’t get a flu; the younger you are the less likely you are to get a flu vaccine. That’s good news for older Americans—some 67 percent of people 65 and older get the vaccine annually—and they are among the most vulnerable populations, according to the CDC.
So, if you’re still on the fence on whether to get a flu shot or not, here’s some important things to consider:
- Even if you still get the flu, studies show the duration of the illness and your risk for hospitalization and severe outcomes will be lower.
- If you have heart disease, the flu vaccine can lower your risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. Other studies show additional benefits for people with heart disease.
- If you have diabetes, the vaccine can lower your risk of hospitalization due to flu.
- If you have chronic lung disease, the vaccine can lower your risk of outpatient visits, hospitalizations and death.
- If you're pregnant, multiple studies show the vaccine can protect both you and your infant.
Finally, although the number of deaths and hospitalizations from flu fluctuate due to severity each year, between 12,000 and 56,000 Americans die from the disease each year and 140,000 to 710,000 are hospitalized.
That might be reason enough to answer “yes” when you ask yourself if you should get the flu vaccine. Be sure to talk to your MDVIP-affiliated doctor about whether the flu vaccine is right for you.