Every fall, Americans are prompted to get vaccinated against the influenza virus. Influenza is responsible for millions of hours in lost productivity and massive amounts of direct medical costs. The flu also wreaks havoc on school attendance each year. The greater the percentage of people in the workplace or classroom who are vaccinated, the less likely it is for a significant outbreak to occur. Here's why getting a flu shot is essential not only for you, but for your family, friends, and coworkers.

The Importance of Flu Vaccination

Flu vaccination prevents millions of influenza cases and related doctor visits. In fact, they've prevented an estimated 4.4 illnesses and 3,500 flu-related deaths in the past. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu shot is more important than ever. The flu virus can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to COVID-19 and vice versa. If you were to be infected with the flu and COVID-19 viruses at the same time, it could increase the severity of your illness.

The seasonal flu vaccination changes each year. It is actually an immunization against three or four viruses that scientists are predicting will be the most prevalent during the upcoming flu season.

Complications of Flu

People who contract the flu virus can experience a broad range of symptoms from mild to severe. Typical symptoms include fever, respiratory issues, nausea, and fatigue. In some people, the virus can settle in the lungs and cause pneumonia or bronchitis. It can also cause sinus and ear infections. The flu might also cause chronic medical problems to become worse. For example, people who suffer from asthma may experience asthma attacks while they are sick with flu, and people who have chronic heart disease may find it worsens when triggered by the flu.

Who Should Get a Flu Vaccination?

The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a seasonal flu vaccination every year. People over 65 generally have weakened immune systems and are therefore more likely to suffer complications from the flu. People in this age group need to get vaccinated. People with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease are also more prone to flu-related complications and should protect themselves by getting immunized.

Note that some people should not get vaccinated. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccination, discuss it with your doctor. If you have ever suffered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome you should not be vaccinated, and if you are not feeling well, it's better to postpone any vaccinations.