The Flu Shot is Important! Here's Why
The flu is a serious illness, that can cause a high fever, body aches, cold-like symptoms, and stomach symptoms. It will make you very sick, and you will likely be in bed for about 2 weeks. That alone makes it important to get the flu vaccine. But even more importantly, complications from the flu can be deadly. The flu can easily lead to pneumonia, which progresses quickly, often requires hospitalization, and has a long recovery time of over a month. Pneumonia can be fatal if not caught and treated quickly. The flu can also cause asthma flare-ups, meningitis (an infection in the area surrounding the brain) and heart inflammation which can lead to heart failure. All of these are very serious and can be deadly. Certain medical conditions also put you at higher risk for complications if you get the flu. If you have asthma, certain heart conditions, or any type of condition that compromises your immune system, such as diabetes or cancer, or if you take medications that suppress the immune system, your chance of a poor outcome from the flu increases.
Many patients avoid the flu vaccine because they think it makes them sick. Some patients may get a slight fever, body aches, sore throat, or runny nose for 1-3 days after having the vaccine. These symptoms are typically mild and tolerable. If you get sicker than that after a flu shot, it means you were exposed to something else around the same time as the vaccine, and your illness is not due to the vaccine.
Every year, the flu causes thousands of deaths, mainly due to complications of the flu. Even young and otherwise healthy people can be at risk for hospitalization or even death. I saw this first-hand as a PA student - one of my classmates became very sick with the flu near the end of our first semester. He developed pneumonia, and sadly passed away. He was a young man of 30 with a bright future ahead of him, and he is no longer with us because of the flu.
-Jill Scully, PA-C