Why You Need a Flu Shot

Yearly vaccination is the best prevention

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If you haven’t gotten a flu shot, now is the time to start taking steps to cut down your chances of getting sick.

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Susan Rehm, MD, a doctor who treats infectious diseases at Cleveland Clinic, says that the flu is nothing to sneeze at.

“Every year, up to 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu and its complications,” Dr. Rehm says. “And somewhere between 4,000 and 40,000 people die every year of the flu.” Despite this, only 45 percent of the U.S. population was vaccinated during flu season in the 2012-2013 season, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

If you’ve haven’t gotten a flu shot this year, now is the time, says Dr. Rehm.

3 reasons you need a flu shot

  1. Change in flu strains. Flu viruses change constantly, so last year’s shot won’t offer protection against this year’s strains.
  2. Delay in protection. The flu shot doesn’t kick in right away. It takes about two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that protect you.
  3. Unknown severity of flu strains. It’s impossible to predict how severe this flu season will be.

According to the Centers for Disease control, flu season typically peaks in January or February, but flu activity can last as long as late May.

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Flu symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue and fever

“Other respiratory illnesses don’t usually have a fever,” Dr. Rehm says.

Along with vaccination, Dr. Rehm says washing your hands frequently and taking an anti-viral medication at the first onset of symptoms will also help prevent the flu.

More information

Influenza

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