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Flu Vaccine By the Numbers

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Flu Vaccine By the Numbers

Have you gotten your Flu vaccine?  If you have been to the clinic in the last 3 months you have likely been asked, maybe even a few times, if you want your flu shot.  To those who opted out of that vaccine I write to you. 

There are many different reasons that we hear in the office of why patients do not want the flu vaccine, I hope to address the two most common of these, and also give you some data on why we keep pressing this subject.

First the numbers:

  • 36,000 – the number of people in the US that on average die from the flu.
  • 43-153 – the number of deaths of children in the past 10 years combined.
  • 18 – the number of children already dead THIS YEAR ALONE due to flu related complications.
  • 26 – There are 26 times more cases of the flu this year compared to last year.
  • 60% - the CDC has stated that the flu vaccine is 60 % effective, compared to 46% effective last year.

So from this you can see that the flu kills, this is a bad flu year, and also that the vaccine is effective. 

Now for the 2 most common reasons the flu shot is declined:

“I don’t get the flu even if I don’t get the vaccine.”  That is great, and I am always glad when a patient tells me that they do not normally get the flu.  However this also makes me worried.  There is always a first time for everything.  Just because you have gone 50 years without the flu, doesn’t mean that this year will not be your first flu experience.  Also remember that when you get the vaccine you protect everyone you know.  The flu is more likely to cause complications that can result in death for the following groups: children under 2, adults over 65 and pregnant women, as well as anyone who has heart or lung disease, cancer, or asthma.  Now I know that we all know and love someone that fits into one of these groups.  And if you could do something as easy as get a flu shot to possibly save their lives would you want to do it?  Even if the person you are thinking of has already gotten flu shot of their own, you can still decrease their flu exposure by getting your flu shot.

“The flu shot gives me the flu”  The vaccine is made from dead virus, therefore the injected virus cannot cause you to become ill.  However it does take 2 weeks become effective, therefore you can catch the flu for another source during this time.  You can also have vaccine reactions including many of the same symptoms that the flu causes. 

This flu season has been more severe than last due to the early start, the strain of virus circulating is stronger than virus strains seen in recent years, and we do not know if the season has peaked yet. 

I hope that what I have said motivates those of you whom have not had the vaccine to come in for a nursing visit to get it.  Even if we can keep a small number people in the community healthy and working or going to school, then we have made a big difference in their lives.