7 Reasons You Need to Get a Flu Shot This Year

Learn the truth about the flu shot and why you should definitely get one this season.

As the seasons begin to change, respiratory infections are on the rise, and it's time to get your annual flu shot. Influenza, or the flu, is a serious and highly contagious illness. Each year, between 9.4 million and 49 million people in the U.S. contract the flu. That is why the CDC urges everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu vaccine every season. In particular, this year the American Lung Association, the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the American Heart Association (AHA) have come together to urge the 117 million adults living with chronic disease to prioritize annual flu vaccination.

If you are considering skipping your annual vaccination, here are reasons you may want to reconsider.

  1. The flu shot can be lifesaving.

    Depending on the flu virus' severity, deaths as a result of flu complications can range from 12,000 to 79,000 people nationwide. The 2017-2018 season specifically reported close to 80,000 casualties of the flu, according to the CDC.

    While anyone can get the flu, certain groups are at increased risk of flu-related complications, including young children, pregnant women, and adults 65 years of age and older. That is why it is essential that these groups get an updated flu vaccine every year.

  2. The flu shot can't give you the flu, but it can reduce the severity.

    It has been scientifically proven that getting the flu shot won't cause you to get the flu. This is because each vaccine either contains a dead virus or only includes the single gene of the virus, making it inactive. Another common argument for not receiving the flu shot is that each vaccine only addresses a few strains, so you can still contract the flu even after you are vaccinated. Though this may be true, the CDC does extensive research to ensure that the flu shot is highly effective and is protecting you from several of the most common types that year. Furthermore, studies have found that even if you contract the disease, receiving the flu shot can lessen symptoms considerably, making the sickness shorter and more manageable.

  3. The flu shot helps protect the people around you.

    The flu is highly contagious, so the chance of spreading it to family and friends is extremely likely. Getting the flu shot not only protects you from getting sick, but it also makes sure that those around you, especially those at high risk for infection, remain safe.

  4. It may prevent other serious medical complications for people with chronic conditions.

    During the 2018-2019 season, 93 percent of adults hospitalized for flu, reported at least one underlying medical condition that placed them at high-risk for complications. Recent research has found that not only has the flu shot reduced the number of people who end up hospitalized by almost half, but it has specifically reduced the number of cardiac events, diabetic emergencies and chronic lung complications. 

  5. You need a new flu shot annually to stay healthy.

    Flu viruses are constantly adapting so each year a new formula is calculated to address the most common predicted types that season. For the best protection, vaccinations should start after 6 months of age, and continue annually.

  6. The earlier you get it, the safer you'll be.

    Since it takes about two weeks for the antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, you should get the flu shot as soon as the season starts. For many, this means before the end of October. But it’s better to get it later than not at all, which is why many locations offer the vaccine into January or even later.

  7. They are easily and readily available.

    Getting a flu shot has become extremely simple and convenient because flu vaccines are offered at many regularly visited locations. Some places you may be able to find the flu vaccine include doctor's offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools. To find a location near you, visit our Find a Flu Shot page and learn more about preventing the flu.

The American Lung Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association offer educational resources about the burden of flu and increased need for vaccination among people with chronic health conditions. And throughout the flu season, the Lung Association, AHA and ADA will be sharing the personal stories of individuals affected by the flu, resources on how to find the closest flu vaccine provider and debunk myths surrounding the flu. Free, downloadable information on flu and chronic health conditions is also available through the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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