The CDC reports that last year’s flu season killed about 79,000 people. Adults over age 65 constituted 70% (about 55,000) of the deaths, but adults in midlife and young children were well represented in the mortality figures.
Influenza Is Largely Preventable by Vaccine
The flu shots work, if not perfectly. You are dramatically safer if you and your family all get your shots rather than going unvaccinated. Each of you is protected by the other’s immunity. The adverse effects of the vaccine itself are minor, and largely annoyances such as sore arm or feeling a bit off for a day. Influenza pneumonia is a multiday severe illness that frequently requires hospitalization. It is not a bad cold.
Many of you have already gotten your shot. We offer everyone the flu shot during any fall office visit. You may certainly come to the office at almost any time that works for you; we ask only that you call in advance to let us know of your intentions so you will not be asked to wait when you arrive.
Get your flu shot by Thanksgiving! If you can’t get to the OHC office, go to a drug store.
I must remind you that influenza is deadly, more than you may have realized. Some comparisons:
- Opioid overdoses killed about 72,000 people last year, typically young or in midlife. Largely Fentanyl and heroin. What a waste of young lives.
- Breast cancer, the most feared of diseases for women, killed 40,600 in 2017, about half the total of influenza deaths for both genders. For the record, male breast cancer deaths are about 1% of the female rate.
- Deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2017 were also about 40,000. Again, half the influenza deaths.
The Moral: Get Your Flu Shot
The current flu shots are substantially effective, but have to be updated each year. Some day (perhaps within the next five years), we will have improved influenza immunizations that are more effective and perhaps cover more than one flu season. But not yet.
The clear correct decision right now to reduce your risk and protect yourself and your family is to come for your flu shot.