An inside perspective of health care and life as a physician, from Pure Family Medicine
Flu season will be upon us soon. After the brutal 2017-2018 flu season, last year's season was quite a bit milder. Part of the reason for that is an increase in the number of people vaccinated, and a more effective flu vaccine. Some statistics for you:
While there are certainly a number of factors at play that determine the severity of the flu season, an increase in vaccination rates and effectiveness of just 7% decreased hospitalizations by 32% and deaths by 23%. Taking a look back to the deadliest flu season in recorded history, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, there were 675,000 deaths in America due to the flu. Statistics and research show that the flu vaccine helps, a lot.
I recognize that nobody wants to get a shot, and I also recognize that any vaccine comes with risks. But the risks of getting and having complications from the flu are exponentially higher than the risk of rare vaccine reactions. I will never forget my first ICU rotation in medical school taking care of a (previously healthy) 29 year old who had complications from influenza. He died. His family was devastated. I was devastated. I remember thinking, what if he had gotten his flu shot? What if he just forgot, got too busy, or was just on the fence and chose not to? What if his work had offered the vaccine, what if he happened to walk into the pharmacy for something else and they offered the vaccine? What if?
Unfortunately despite the science behind vaccines and the statistics proving that vaccines save lives, flu vaccine rates are typically below 50%. So let me reassure you of a few things if you are on the fence…
If you are still unsure, please at least talk to your doctor about the flu vaccine, at least start that conversation. Thanks for reading, have great day and stay healthy!
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