Flu Shots Obtained by 40% of Americans this Season
While millions of Americans have taken steps to protect themselves against the influenza virus, experts say the numbers are still too low. If you haven't been vaccinated against the seasonal flu, learn why you should make it a priority.
Lack of Vaccinations
According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about two out of every five Americans have gotten this year's flu vaccine. This includes just 37 percent of children between the ages of 6 months and 17. These statistics are troubling to medical experts, since flu complications cause thousands of deaths and hospitalizations each year,
The Dangers of the Flu
While many people regard the flu as an uncomfortable yet minor infection, it can actually be quiet dangerous. Flu complications can vary based on key characteristics of circulating seasonal viruses. That said, the CDC estimates that thousands or tens of thousands of Americans die from influenza every year, while hundreds of thousands are hospitalized. Others also experience worsening of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or congestive heart failure.
How Effective Is the Vaccine?
Because it is developed to protect against last season's most prevalent strain of the influenza virus, the seasonal flu shot does not protect against every single form of influenza. Still, while it cannot provide universal protection against the flu virus, the vaccine does drastically lower a person's risk of infection. In fact, the CDC estimates the flu vaccination prevented approximately 5 million flu illnesses in 2016, while also preventing 71,000 flu hospitalizations.
Are There Risks to Getting Vaccinated?
Contrary to popular opinion, the flu vaccine poses no risk to otherwise healthy individuals. Because it is made using a dead or inactive form of the virus, the shot cannot give someone the flu. At the same time, because it takes about two weeks for the immune system to develop appropriate protections, you can still get sick shortly after receiving the shot. This is why it’s so important to get vaccinated as soon as possible.