The stigma surrounding flu shots is frustrating to deal with. The more I work to clarify misconceptions about getting vaccinate, the more I run into people who make the same excuses.
"I've never gotten one and I've never gotten sick," they tell me. Or they think it will make them sick, or that the flu is just a government conspiracy and no one actually gets it. Okay, okay. So I have only heard that last one once.
Yet, the flu is a very real threat to the health of Americans. In fact, thousands die from the flu every year. Though it may not bother you personally, if you live spread it to young children, the elderly or other people who are at high risk, it very well could kill them.
To the people who are out there who are helpers and for those of you who have loved ones who may be at risk, think of your flu shot as your public service for the month. Getting a shot takes ten seconds. Not only will it protect you from the flu for the next six months, it will also protect those around you.
If you're sitting at home thinking about the fact that the vaccine only will protect you from a few strains, keep in mind two things. First, if you're getting the shot, it's a dead virus. As long as you don't have any severe immune system issues or allergies, you probably won't have any side effects besides the normal soreness (obviously, I'm not a doctor and you should talk to yours about any concerns you may have). So there's no harm in getting one. Second, there is a lot of thought and data that goes into choosing which strains are in each year's vaccine. The CDC is not just picking random viruses to put in.
So make your vaccination a priority. At the very least, you'll have wasted ten seconds and endured a little pinch for nothing. At the most, you'll have saved a life - be it your own or that of a total stranger.
To read my article about how Marquette is combating the flu on its campus, click here.
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