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It seems that every place you go to nowadays is offering to give flu shots. Why is there such an emphasis on getting a flu shot? What are the benefits? What are the risks if you don’t get your flu shot?
Influenza is one of the most common respiratory illnesses in the United States today. It’s estimated that influenza accounts for close to 200,000 hospitalizations in the USA per year. Quite an alarming number for something that could be easily prevented, right? In addition, between 1976 and 2007, the number of deaths in the United States associated with the flu ranged from 3,000 to 49,000. Because of this increasing number, CDC suggests that everyone 6 months old and older get a yearly flu vaccine as a safe way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.
Remember, flu viruses are spread from person to person through air droplets when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. They can also be spread when the droplets land on an object such as a telephone, a keyboard or a doorknob.
There are a lot of myths out there about the influenza vaccine. Regardless to what you may have heard, the flu shot does not contain any live viruses and you cannot get the flu from receiving a flu shot. And even the nasal form of the influenza vaccine contains a weakened form of the flu virus too small to cause a full blown flu illness. Getting the flu shot will help your body to develop antibodies against the influenza virus, thus preventing you from becoming seriously ill. This year, the CDC recommended a high dose influenza shot for seniors over the age of 65 years. Because studies have shown that the immune system begins to weaken with age, it is believed that seniors are more at risk for developing the flu. The high dose fluzone contains 4 times the amount of antigen that’s in the regular seasonal flu shot. More antigen is expected to produce a higher antibody response in seniors, therefore giving them additional protection against the flu. Both the High Dose flu shot and the regular seasonal flu shots are available at the Park Forest Health Department.
For more information, call 708-748-1118 or stop by the Nurses Plus in the Park Forest Village Hall building at 350 Victory Dr., Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Jenise Ervin RN, MSN