Why Get the Flu Vaccine?

Updated on October 24, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Sick Woman

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Who Needs the Flu Vaccine?

It is a good idea for most people to get the flu vaccine, and the CDC recommends everyone over the age of five months to get a flu shot. It is particularly important for adults over 65 years, pregnant women, young children between six months and eight years. Children in that age range may require two shots. A 2017 study concluded a child’s risk of death from the flu was significantly reduced. In 2018, 80,000 people died and 959,000 were hospitalized due to influenza.

Other people with chronic medical conditions that are more prone to have influenza complications include:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Obesity

On a personal note I chose not to get the vaccine one year, then, I got the flu. Next, I went into one of my worst lupus flare-ups. I would encourage anyone with an autoimmune disease to get a flu shot, and I got mine already.

You are eligible for the flu vaccine in the UK if you are 65 or older. The vaccine is recommended for Australians between June and September.

It takes the vaccine 2-4 weeks for protective antibodies to form.

Mayo Clinic Minute: The Facts About 3 Flu Vaccine Myths

Flu Vaccine for 2019-2020

Typically, the flu vaccine protects against 3-4 strains of flu viruses because there are different strains of the flu that change from year to year. The composition of the vaccine is evaluated and changed each year. According to the CDC, for the 2019-2020, the vaccine is a trivalent, which has three-components that contain:

  • “A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated)
  • B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus”

There is a “cell based” higher-level vaccine for adults over 65 years of age or older. The World Health Organization (WHO) chose the components for the 2019-2020 vaccine on February 21st.

Flu Symptoms

Source

Symptoms of Influenza

The symptoms of influenza include:

  • Fever and chillsNasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pains
  • Hoarseness
  • Earache
  • Irritated, watery eyes
  • Reddened eyes, skin (especially face)
  • Petechial rash
  • Irritated, watery eyes
  • Children may have gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain)

Influenza Virus

Source

Benefits of the Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine in the U.S. reduces the mortality rate substantially and also, the lost work hours. Even a 1% increase in the vaccination rate will reduce deaths by 800 annually and in 14.5 million fewer lost work hours due to illness.

New Executive Order

An executive order was signed by President Donald Trump on the 19th of September that gives directions to the Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. They are tasked with proposing a budget and plan within 120 days that will improve the United States’ ability to improve the country’s ability to prepare for any future pandemic flu. They are to develop a better vaccine that will protect people against the seasonal flu outbreaks. They will hopefully develop a universal flu vaccine that will replace the seasonal variety flu vaccine.

They are also charged with planning a strategy for switching to faster methods of developing a seasonal flu vaccine. Manufacturers currently use a process of making the flu vaccine using chicken eggs that takes six months.

Over numerous years the flu vaccine has been about 45% effectively. By using the chicken eggs there is a months-long lag between predictions of the researchers as to which strains are the most likely to in any given year.

Answers to Common Questions About the Flu Vaccine

Final Thoughts

Getting the flu vaccine can protect your health and possibly the health of your loved ones. The CDC and most physicians recommend getting the flu vaccine as early in the season as possible, certainly by the end of October and due to the fact that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to be effective. The flu vaccine has the benefit of no lost work days and possibly a hospitalization.

Have you had your flu vaccine?

Have you had the flu vaccine or are you against having the vaccine?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Matt, I get it every year also as about 2o years ago I didn't get it. Then, I became very ill, so lesson was learned. Thanks for sharing.

  • Iammattdoran profile image

    Matt Doran 

    2 weeks ago from Manchester, UK

    I got my annual flu jab yesterday. I get it every year as I have asthma. I know people who are eligible for it yet they don't bother getting it. You'd have to be crazy not to get it!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    3 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Genna, I got very sick one year with a lupus flareup following a bad case of the flu, and I have not missed a flu shot since either. I appreicate you very kind comments.

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 

    3 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

    Hi Pam. I came down with the flu one year that developed into severe pneumonia. I haven't missed a shot since. Thanks so much for this very information article. A must read for everyone.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi again Paula, I couldn't agree more. Positive thinking rocks! Thank you.

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 

    5 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Exactly, Pam...which is why I can agree that we have to do what we feel is best for us. Too many different opinions can just drive us batty. Something has been working for me for 11 years, since I was so sick for so long back when. I'm not about to rock the boat! Anyway.....like my Dr added..."if you feel better getting the shot, then get it." Hey, there's something to the power of positive thinking!!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Paula, I guess most people are surpirsed by a comment like your doctor's.

    I recently heard this vaccine might not be the right one for this year, well after I wrote this article. I would probably still have gotten the vaccine as my experience has been good.

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 

    5 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Well, Eric....I'm not sure I felt it was a "great" comment by my Dr.....but she certainly surprised me as well as caused me some confusion and doubt. I know she pushed me to do some serious research on these flu shots we all run to get every year.

    Like I told Pam......I've been doing so well for the past 11 years, I'm not taking the chance of breaking my good streak. Yet, I feel I want more and more information due to my Dr's comments to me. Peace, Paula

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, Thanks for adding your comment. Have a great day!

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Wow that is a great comment about the doctor. Interesting as hell.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Paula, Yes, that is what I meant. I have arthritis in my fingers while typing too fast, and I make numerous mistakes. I should always reread my comments. Thanks, Paula

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 

    5 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Pam....LOL....I'll assume you meant to say that you HAVE gotten a flu shot every year! Nice to know I'm not the only one who makes little typos!!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Paula, That is an amazing story. It is hard to believe a doctor would say that. My story is similar to yours as I was very sick with the flu and I haven't gotten a flu shot every year since the.

    I wonder if getting a flu shot each year doesn't build up your immunity no matter which strain hits. You may as well do what is working for you. Thanks for sharing your story.

    I wish you great health Paula!

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 

    5 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Pam....My story about the "flu shot" is a conglomeration of events, 11 years ago, I was so ill for so long, I thought (or felt like) I'd never be well again. Afterward, I VOWED to get a flu shot every yr. a pneumonia vaccine every 5 yrs (as recommended) and I also got a shingles vaccine...a one shot deal. I figured I was all set with more protection than a suit of armor! And I HAVE been well, catching no nsaty bugs for 11 years. Success! However, on my recent visit to my PCP, I happen to ask her if she got a flu shot every year.....she smirked and said "Nooo!" (in the way one would say, "Oh for heaven's sake NO!) I was in shock. Here is a woman who is face to face with every illness on the planet all day, all week. She also has 2 school-aged kids who are exposed to everything in school & bring it home....Right? So, I'm thinking why on earth does this woman nearly scoff at the flu shot? She finally said to me, "Well, at your age, if it makes you FEEL better or more protected, then get the flu shot." HUH?? She said, there are new strains of the flu every year and the flu shot does not protect us from them. What is a person to do?? Anyway, I hate to ruin my streak of good health, so I will be getting a flu shot soon. I'm just still stunned to hear my Dr's comments!! Peace. Paula

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Patricia, I have had the same experience. It is good to hear from you and I appreciate your comments. Angels are headed back to you also.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    5 weeks ago from sunny Florida

    Absolutely get one each year...so tjankful I have not had the flu in many many years. Angels headed your way this evening.ps

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Mike, I think you are unique as most people have had one or the other in their lifetime. I appreciate your comments.

  • Readmikenow profile image

    Readmikenow 

    6 weeks ago

    Interesting article. I suppose I'm lucky. I've never had a flu shot and I've never had the flu.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Robert, Have a happy Sunday!

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    6 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Robert, We had a neighbor at that time that got guillain barre, which is a horrid disease. I heard of that happening with that vaccine, but never with any other flu vaccine.

    I know that military people get all kinds of injections. They lost my son's records one time and he had to get the shots over again, but that was years after the swine flu vaccine. I was required as a RN to get veccines sometimes, but I never had a bad reaction. I think the flu shot is probably safe but I don't know if it will work of course. Thanks for commenting Robert.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    6 weeks ago

    There was a big ta do about the Swine Flu vaccine. Some military people were reluctant to get the vaccine, but they had no choice in the matter. For them inoculation was mandatory.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Robert, I remember the Swine Flu vaccine very well, and it was awful. They say people do not get sick from the flu vaccine now, but some say otherwise. I appreciate the comments.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    6 weeks ago

    It seems it would be worthwhile to study why/how people get sick from these vaccines. Do you remember the Swine Flu vaccine?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Alyssa, I think it would be great if there was a universal vaccine too. They say they only use dead viruses in the vaccine and no one can get sick but I have had many people tell me they do get sick, and I do not understand why. There must be something in the vaccine that affects some people. I appreciate your comments.

  • Alyssa Nichol profile image

    Alyssa 

    6 weeks ago from Ohio

    Very informative! When I worked in healthcare, I faithfully got my flu shot every year. It's so important, especially if you are constantly surrounded by people. My husband always opts out because it actually makes him sick and since I started staying home with my son, I don't worry too much about it for myself. I think the science sounds promising, an effective universal flu vaccine would be incredible!

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    6 weeks ago

    Thank you for the article. It reminded me to call the clinic to see if the vaccine is available. Can you expand on "You are eligible for the flu vaccine in the UK if you are 65 or older."?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peg, That is obviously a decision only you can make. i am not sure what is happening in the body when someone has a bad reaction. The viruses are dead, so a bad reaction is not the flu, but obviously something was wrong

    Thank you so much Peg for dropping by and commenting.

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    7 weeks ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    Thanks for the important explanation on the flu vaccine. I'm still on the fence about getting another one after a bad reaction to the shot one year. Even so, I don't want to get the flu, either.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    hi Ms. Dora, Thank you for your comments. Everyone had to decide for themselves whether they want a flu vaccine, so now you have the information.

    Hi Liz, I usually get my flu vaccine at the pharmacy but this year the doctor offered it on a routine office visit, so I said yes. I appreciate your comments.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    7 weeks ago from UK

    This is a very timely and topical hub. I was recently in the pharmacy to collect something, when the pharmacist persuaded me to get my flu vaccine. That's one job crossed off my list before I had even got around to writing it on there!

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    7 weeks ago from The Caribbean

    The for explaining the importance of getting the flu vaccine. I've never had one but I'll keep your information in mind.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lori, Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate appreciate your input.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I might not have thought about the flu shot but at a routine doctor visit he brought it up. I had mine then. It does seem like time flies by. I appreciate your comments.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    7 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Thanks for sharing the information, Pamela. It's certainly the time of year to think about getting the flu vaccine. The transition from late August to early September always seems rapid to me, but now that we're in the last part of the month it's important to think about the potential problems of winter.

  • lambservant profile image

    Lori Colbo 

    7 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

    I didn't get a flu shot the last couple of years but you have reminded me to do so. Always appreciate your medical hubs.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Shauna, Some years are certainly worse than others for the effectiveness of the vaccine. There were 80,000 deaths and about a half-a-million hospitalizations from the flu last year, so I have to think the vaccine would be effective for those of higher risk.

    It is good you are healthy, and you probably naturally fight off most viruses. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    7 weeks ago from Central Florida

    Pamela, I never get the flu shot. I've only had the flu once in my life. I'll take my chances. I'm a pretty healthy person, so I'm not worried. From what I heard last year's flu vaccine was a total miss.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, You make an excellent point about hand washing, and I even have a hand sanitizer in my glove compartment.

    There are some people who think any immunization is bad, which simply is not true. Thank you for your comments Linda.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Vivian, Your story is much like mine. In the research it said if you have a flu shot and still get the flu, it will be a mild case. So even having a milder case sounds good to me, however, since we started getting the flu shot every year there has been no flu for us.

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and commenting.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    7 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

    My health care provider isn't offering them yet, but it's on my list. We are not really germ-a-phobes, but my husband, daughter, and I always carry hand sanitizer with us and our mantra is "wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands." I think it's irresponsible to not get the vaccine--even if you don't get terribly sick, you could give the illness to someone who is more compromised and fragile.

  • Noelle7 profile image

    Vivian Coblentz 

    7 weeks ago

    Pamela,

    There's what a I call a "wellness cult" out there who swear the flu vaccine is one of the worst things you can do for your body, so I'm glad you wrote this article.

    My kids' pediatrician one year showed me a list of statistics on pediatric hospitilizations that resulted in serious complications from the flu and even death--all of the patients had NOT had a flu shot.

    The one year our family refrained from getting the flu shot, we were all wicked sick! One doctor told me some research suggests that even though you have to get the shot annually, there may be some memory cells that carry over from one year to the next.

    I asked another doctor if it's worth the risk if it's only 30% effective some years. He said any possibility of increasing your chances of NOT getting the flu are definitely worth it.

    Some insurances include a flu vaccination in a list of options employees can do to decrease their monthly premiums.

    Thanks for this important reminder!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Chitrangada, I certainly that some people are more vulnerable and definitely should get vaccinated. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 

    7 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

    Excellent and informative article about why one should take the flu vaccine.

    Some people and certain age groups are vulnerable and they must get vaccinated in time. It’s important to take steps to make our immune system stronger.

    Thanks for the reminder and thanks for sharing this wonderful article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill, I guess a smart man listens to his smart wife. From what you have said about Bev, I know I would love her. I appreciate your comments.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

    Although I never get sick, and that isn't hyperbole, and although I dragged my feet on flu shots for that very reason, Bev talked me into getting one each year during my regular health checkup, and I always try to do what Bev suggests. :) My take on them: what can it hurt to get one?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lora, I have had a similar experience to you. You may consider getting the pneumonia vaccine also. You also list some of the best reasons to get the vaccine. Thank you for your comments..

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Floursh, The articles I read said that even if the vaccie didn't work that you would get a much lighter case of the flu. I hope the bill the president signed to get a flu shot which would cover each virus type, the A & B types, is successful. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna, I agree that healthcare providers should get the vaccine. The hospitals pushed that agenda for their employees when I worked there as a nurse.

    However, it is a personal decision. All the research I read said even if the vaccine didn't work that you would get a much lighter case of the flu. I appreciate your comments.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    7 weeks ago

    Really informative article Pamela. I think certain age groups certainly benefit from the vaccine, however, I don't think everyone should automatically have it. People who work in various health sectors should have the flue vaccine to protect others and of course people who have certain illnesses. You have made some very valid points Pamela.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    7 weeks ago from USA

    These are very good points and the information is surely timely! It’s interesting how 45% effectiveness drives such a campaign for widespread immunization. In any other sphere that type of odds ratio would have us totally rethinking our choices because that’s a 55% failure rate overall. Scientists have a long way to go with refining the flu vaccine. I realize it’s very complex. I just had no idea about that effectivess rate overall. What a great article.

  • Lora Hollings profile image

    Lora Hollings 

    7 weeks ago

    I've already had my flu vaccine! For the last 12 years, I make sure that I get it every year now. There was a time when I didn't. And I got so sick with it that I ended up with pneumonia. Never again! Since I've been getting the flu vaccine regularly, I have been much healthier and just don't get as sick as I used to. In fact, for the last decade, I've only had to get on antibiotics one time. I highly recommend this vaccine for everyone even those that are young and in very good health. There's no reason to get seriously ill and spread it to others especially those that are more vulnerable to getting sick! Prevention is the answer when it comes to the flu or any disease for that matter. Wonderful job on a topic which has great importance! Thanks for sharing. I learned a lot from the video too.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ruby, I usually get at the Walgreens drugstore in Oct., but my doctor asked me when I was there for a routine appt., so I said yes this year. Stay well! Thank you for your comments.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    7 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

    I always have the flu vaccine. I usually get it in Oct. at Walmart. I haven't had the flu in years, so I'm a believer. Thank you for reminding us.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, That is how I ended up getting the flu shot when I had a doctor appointment last week and that is how I ended up getting the fly shot. However, with my lung problems I think it is a good thing. I hope will stay healthy Eric. Thanks for you comments my friend.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Kathy, I have heard some people have difficulty with the flu vaccine. I know a large amount of study has been done and of course, they say there is nothing to make anyone sick. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Gerry, Thanks for your ocmment.

  • Gerry Glenn Jones profile image

    Gerry Glenn Jones 

    7 weeks ago from Somerville, Tennessee

    Your article on this is very relative to the subject!

  • The Stages Of ME profile image

    Kathy Henderson 

    7 weeks ago from Pa

    Valid article and wonderful points, however, I am not a fan of the flu shot. I believe there is a flaring component to it for myself. As when I have had the vaccine I seem to end up in the hospital. Perhaps my body is not a fan. Always a controversy when this time of year arises, but you do address some good points.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    7 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    If I don't have this one and 2 more by early October my doc goes all ballistic on me ;-) Some of us just have no choice. My home does all things healthy. From antioxident foods to reasonable exercise. And vaccines are a part of that regimen for sure.

    Great article.

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