Written By Andre Nye, MD – A few years ago some young relatives came to visit my mother. My relatives did not feel very well when they came for visit but my mother still welcomed them to her home in Florida. They enjoyed themselves and had a wonderful time. After a few days, they left to go to the Florida Keys while my mother remained in her home. She started to feel unwell and then developed an elevated temperature. It was flu season and she had refused the flu vaccine as did the relatives who came to visit.
Why I Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
While my relatives got better, my mother, who is over the age of 80, became progressively worse over the ensuing days. She developed a cough, muscle aches, headache, and a high fever. My mother was later admitted to the hospital with viral pneumonia and a low oxygen level. She spent the next week in the hospital and when she was off oxygen she was discharged home. However, she spent the next month recovering.
Are Flu Shots Important?
I tell this story because sometimes getting a vaccine for influenza seems unimportant. Although most people recover, it can have serious consequences when others contract the illness. Vulnerable adults such as the elderly, children with medical problems, and others can suffer serious consequences and may need hospitalization. I recommend all of my patients receive the annual flu vaccine. It is not just yourself that you are protecting against illness. However, you are also protecting people you come in contact with.
Whether it is influenza or COVID-19, you might ask who you are protecting? Are you protecting yourself, others, or both? When taking care of patients, I do my very best to make sure that they stay healthy. Therefore, we recommend and also receive the flu vaccine every year.
Seasonal Flu Risks
A couple of years ago I was working in the emergency room. A 52-year-old man came in with a high fever and labored breathing. I was concerned about him and admitted him to the hospital. The man tested positive for influenza and his health began to deteriorate. I had started all the appropriate medications, however, I was out of options and had to transfer him to a larger hospital. A week later after having been placed on a ventilator he passed away.
Every year 50,000 people die from influenza and over 700,000 Americans have died from Covid since the beginning of 2020. The good news is we have vaccines that can prevent these deaths.
The CDC states that it is completely safe to administer both the flu and Covid vaccines together. I have been doing this routinely for the past year in my practice and have yet to have any complications or allergic reactions. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for anyone 6 months of age and older.
Omicron, a new variant of COVID-19 has now been identified. It is entirely possible the new variant will evade the protective effects of either a prior infection from COVID-19 or the vaccine. However, the CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 5, especially those in high-risk groups, protect themselves and others by getting fully vaccinated.
Additional Reading: Flu Season – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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