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Here’s why flu shots are important

4:19 pm November 8th, 2013

By Roger Muller
The leaves are changing colors, store shelves are filling with Halloween decorations and evening temperatures are dipping into the 40s. Fall has arrived in Washington, and that means it’s also the beginning of flu season.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. The illness causes missed work and school days. In 2010, Americans missed 100 million work days due to flu-related illness, resulting in more than $10 billion in costs to companies’ bottom lines.
The best way to protect yourself and reduce your chances of getting the flu this year is to get a flu vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine. It is increasingly important to get vaccinated for people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease, pregnant women, young children under 5 years old and people 65 and older.
Despite the evidence and recommendations, hundreds of thousands of Washington residents won’t get vaccinated this year. Not only does that put your own personal health and well-being at risk, but it increases the chances of your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors getting sick too. Consider the following:
• Getting the shot will not give you the flu. According to the CDC, the flu shot vaccine is made with either inactivated flu viruses (and therefore not infectious) or with no flu vaccine viruses at all. Many people report experiencing flu-like symptoms after getting the vaccine, such as muscle pain or weakness, but these symptoms go away after a day or two, and are much less severe than the actual flu.
• Young, healthy people get the flu, too. Influenza doesn’t discriminate against age or healthy habits. Just because you’re young or don’t typically get sick doesn’t mean you can’t catch the flu. According to the CDC, people who have the flu can spread it to others from as far as six feet away. You can also catch the flu from someone who has yet to exhibit any signs or symptoms of being sick.
• The flu shot is not expensive. In most cases, the cost of a flu shot is covered by your health insurance plan, whether you buy health insurance on your own or are covered through your employer, through Medicare or Medicaid. More employers are now offering free onsite flu shot clinics at the office. If you get the flu, the costs of treating it and the potential for missed days of work or school far exceed the cost of the vaccination.
• Getting the flu shot vaccine is fast, easy and convenient. Getting a flu shot takes no more than five minutes. Most neighborhood pharmacies even offer walk-in options, so you don’t need to make an appointment. If you are unemployed or your employer doesn’t offer flu shots, you can go to your primary care doctor or nearby wellness clinic, most retail pharmacies or contracted flu shot providers. To find a list of flu shot providers near you, visit http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Flu.aspx and enter your zip code.
Make your and your family’s health a priority this year by getting a flu shot. If you do, you’ll likely be able to enjoy fall activities and the upcoming holidays a little more.

By Dr. Roger Muller is chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Pacific Northwest, a provider of health insurance plans.

One Response to Here’s why flu shots are important

  1. Eric Watson Reply

    November 8, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Now this is a bunch of hoopla. Never before in my life have I heard such a sales pitch on anything in my life. Flu shot is nothing but a monetary gain for doctors, the companies who make it as well as distributors. Doctors get bonuses, gifts, donations, free trips to where ever from these drug companies in exchange for the sales, advertising and giving out prescriptions. My brothers wife was cut short from a blood thinner that caused more damage to her whole body than the one the University of Washington gave her. Then again, who makes the large amount of bugs that the drug companies need to make millions of doses to hand out to you suckers? Wouldnt you think that would cause more of a wide spread break out if the bug was not dusted in the beginning? Think how much the government makes from the taxes it gets from all this? Really…..if you really believe in the flu shot…then you as well as many others are really not paying attention to whats really going on. I sure am not putting nothing in my body that I dont know what it is. Thats why I avoid stores who give out flu shots, thats why I do not buy processed foods that have funky names I cant pronounce. So I just stick with MY BODY TAKING CARE OF ME not some stupid quack who thinks an aspirin is the cure to a heart attack. And most do. Common sense is right in front of you. Pay attention to things that cost money. Your money. My brothers wife is dead now. A month after she was given a flu shot.

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