Get your flu shot.
Seriously. Do it. Despite the annual barrage of reminders from public health organizations, doctors and -- if you’re like us -- your mother, the Centers for Disease Control estimate at least 140,000 Americans have been hospitalized with the flu and 12,000 have died of flu-related complications in the last 7 years.
Most flu-related deaths occur in people with weaker-than-average immune systems, such as babies, seniors and people with autoimmune diseases, but the CDC wrote that even the comparatively healthy among us need vaccination. A flu-related hospitalization can be an expensive, miserable experience even when it leads to recovery.
Vaccinations are also a primary building block of herd immunity, a phenomenon in which the spread of disease in a particular group is limited by most of that group being immunized. When you protect yourself from illness, you also protect other people by reducing the number of carriers around them.
When herd immunity decreases due to fewer vaccinations, the outcomes can be disastrous -- especially for those who cannot safely be vaccinated, such as children under the age of six months. They depend on other members of the "herd" to keep illness out of their environment.
Cincinnati interim health commissioner Marilyn Crumpton said it’s seldom too early to seek out your seasonal flu vaccine.
“We can’t predict when the flu comes into the season,” she said. “We can estimate it and watch the upward trend in the number of cases, but the flu might hit early, like in October, or very late, like in April.”
Myths about vaccination have established a secure foothold in corners of the internet, especially those concerned with parenting, but no credible study has ever found a link between any vaccination and developmental disabilities in children. Additionally, the flu shot cannot, itself, give anyone the flu, although recipients may experience side effects such as fever and muscle ache for a few days following their vaccination.
Not sure where you can get vaccinated? Your primary care physician can handle it, but so can pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens across the country. This handy website can help you find the vaccination site closest to you.