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Why You Should Get The Flu Vaccine

We’re so grateful to Lora and Amal, of LAM Style, for partnering with us to share their story. View their full blog post here.

Protect your family from flu especially during the ongoing COVID 19 Pandemic

It’s currently recommend to get your annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, with few exceptions. With COVID 19 cases overwhelming our hospitals and healthcare systems, it’s important we avoid further outbreaks of preventable diseases like the flu. If you are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can receive you flu shot at the same time. The flu vaccine is easily accessible and available and many locations including doctors’ offices, pharmacies and local health departments.

The flu is actually very dangerous

Statistics show that the flu leads to anywhere from 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths each year, according to CDC data since 2010. If infected, the flu can be especially serious for young children, older people and people with chronic health problems like asthma and diabetes. Hundreds of children die from the flu each year. During the 2019-2020 flu season, six Michigan children died from the flu. Nationally that year, 199 children lost their lives to the flu. (Source) Even though we had low cases of flu last year, the flu is not gone. Cases were more mild due to COVID precautions like masking and social distancing, medical experts are concerned about two serious respiratory viruses (SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — and the flu) spreading in our communities as COVID mitigation measures have been relaxed, at a time when hospitals are already stressed.

Addressing myths about the flu vaccine

It is not possible to get the flu from the flu shot. The flu shot does not have a live virus in it, so it is impossible to get the flu from the flu vaccine. You may develop minor side effects from the vaccine such as a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches. These minor side effects are not the flu – they are signs of your body developing the immunity it needs to fight off the flu. These common reactions people have to the flu vaccine are much less severe and shorter lasting than the symptoms caused by actual flu illness.

It takes two weeks to develop immunity after you flu vaccine so its best not to wait too long to get it. The best time it during October and November when cases start to rise. Peak flu season is typically in December and January. And yes, you could still get the flu even after you’ve been vaccinated, but getting a flu vaccine makes it less likely that you’ll get seriously ill or need to be hospitalized.

The flu vaccine and COVID 19

Its important to realize that the flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19, and a COVID vaccine won’t protect you from the flu. The flu vaccine is designed specifically to protect you from certain strains of the flu, and the COVID-19 vaccines are designed specifically to protect you from COVID-19 infection. While some of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, the viruses that cause the flu and COVID-19 are completely different.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that getting a flu vaccination raises your risk of getting sick from COVID-19 or any other coronavirus.

The flu vaccine does not overload your immune system

Vaccines contain ingredients called antigens, which tell your body’s immune system to create antibodies to help recognize and fight off specific viruses. Vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens that we encounter every day in our environment, even if we receive several vaccines on one day. Your immune system successfully fights off thousands of antigens every day. A strep throat infection, for example, exposes you to at least 25 to 50 antigens. That’s comparable to the antigens in the vaccines that infants get at their two-month visit —DTaP, IPV, HepB, Hib, and rotavirus vaccines — which combine to just 54 antigens. And even though children receive more vaccines to protect against more diseases now compared to 30 years ago, the actual number of antigens in vaccines is dramatically less than decades ago because vaccine technology has improved, making vaccines more efficient. In 1980, the recommended vaccines contained more than 15,096 antigens. Today’s vaccines contain only 173 antigens in 12 vaccines that protect children and teens against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases.

6 benefits of getting a flu shot

  1. Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu.
    • Flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during 2019-2020 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses), 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
    • Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor due to the flu by 40 to 60 percent.
  2. Flu vaccination helps keep you and your loved ones out of the hospital.
    • Flu vaccination prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2019-2020 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations.
    • Flu vaccination reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74 percent during flu seasons from 2010-2012. (Source)
    • In recent years, flu vaccines have reduced the risk of flu hospitalizations among adults by about 40 percent. (Source)
  3. If you do get sick with the flu, flu vaccination can make it less severe.
    • A 2018 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients on average spent four fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated. (Source)
    • A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, ICU admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients. (Source)
    • Flu vaccination among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with flu by 82 percent, during flu seasons from 2012 to 2015. (Source)
  4. Flu vaccination can save children’s lives.
    • Flu vaccination reduced the risk of dying from the flu by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children, according to a 2017 study. (Source)
  5. Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
    • Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by up to one-half. (Source)
    • A 2018 study showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent. (Source)
    • A number of studies have shown that in addition to helping to protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu infection for several months after birth, when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated. (Source)
  6. Flu vaccination helps prevent the flu in people with chronic health conditions.
    • Vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year. (Source)
    • Flu vaccination also has been shown in separate studies to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease. (Diabetes sourceLung Disease source)
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I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

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