For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it is time to be thinking about getting our flu shots.
I know that some of us hesitate to get this vaccination, but be aware that although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not track flu-related deaths directly, it estimates that between 3,000 and 49,000 people in this country die each year of complications related to influenza. Ninety percent of flu-related deaths occur in Silver Lifers, the agency estimates.
So should we get one, and if so, when?
I am well aware that there are a number of reasons some of us don’t get the protection a flu shot gives us including:
- Cost. Most private insurance policies and Medicare and Medicaid cover all or most of the cost, co pays can be a burden for some of us. Local pharmacies and food stores often provide the shot for around $25 if you don’t have insurance. A quick call to your insurance help line or your health care provider will determine what, if any out of pocket expense you might have for this.
- The shot will give me the flu. While for some of us, the shot can make us feel a little “under the weather” this vaccine is what is called a “killed virus” vaccine and cannot give you the flu, according to the CDC.
- I am on other medications. By all means, if you are undertaking any sort of medical treatment, or if you are not feeling well, talk to your health care provider about your symptoms prior to getting this or any other vaccine.
- I am allergic to eggs. If you have an allergy to eggs or any of the ingredients in the vaccine, see Special Considerations Regarding Egg Allergy for more information about egg allergies and flu vaccine. Also consult your health care provider if you have or think you may have severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients. Likewise, anyone with Guillain-Barré Syndrome should not get this vaccine without consultation.
- Other Reasons. Some of us are philosophically opposed to vaccines in general or have religious convictions prohibiting them and I understand that, but also understand that one runs the risk of not only contracting the flu oneself, but runs the very real risk of putting other, vulnerable, people in their families and in the community at risk.
So, if after all the qualifiers above, and looking at the sites below, you are going to get vaccinated, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we get a flu shot soon after the vaccine becomes available or at the least by the end of October as fall is when cases start to pick up. In fact it recommends that for Silver Lifers, that we receive the high-dose flu vaccine which that is four times stronger.
The US government has a site that will find you the nearest place to you for your flu shot and contains more detailed information. It is at http://www.vaccines.gov/getting/where/index.html
For additional facts about the flu and the vaccine try these Center for Disease Control sites: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm and for frequently asked questions go to http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2016-2017.htm