by Emma Maple | Staff Writer
These days, it seems like every decision that we make revolves around COVID-19.
Flu shots are no different.
A flu shot may be one of the most important vaccines you’ll ever get, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The Conversation, if America has a major flu outbreak this fall and winter, both hospitals and individual immune systems could be overwhelmed.
The strain on the healthcare system is so intense that many healthcare workers are experiencing burnout or suffering from PTSD. Many are falling sick as the stress and weariness of back-to-back shifts take their toll. Their mental health is suffering from seeing so many deaths. The Atlantic says, “The most precious resource the U.S. health-care system has in the struggle against COVID-19 isn’t some miracle drug. It’s the expertise of its health-care workers—and they are exhausted.”
According to the New York Times, hospitals are overcrowding as COVID-19 cases increase and other necessary equipment is in short supply. If the flu hospitalizes more people, the pressure that our system is feeling will only grow. According to the CDC, receiving the flu vaccine will reduce your chances of contracting the flu by 40-60%. As COVID-19 cases grow and our healthcare workers are overwhelmed by the stress on the system, we don’t need to be adding more stress by spreading the flu as well.
Getting the flu vaccine is a win-win situation. It can protect your health by reducing risk of contracting the flu and it can reduce the insane strain under which our healthcare system is already buckling.
Despite all this, people are still coming up with reasons not to get the flu shot.
These “reasons” are just excuses, excuses being used to spread a disease that will hurt our nation.
One big excuse is the side effects. Robin Pickering, associate professor of health science at Whitworth University, tells us that many people have unwarranted fears about vaccines because of how fast misinformation spreads, through mommy blogs or social media posts. One of the biggest fears is that flu shots cause autism, ADHD or other health concerns.
So, what do the experts have to say about this concern? Robin Pickering says, “Let’s look at the science.” According to the CDC, the most severe side effects possible for most people are soreness, aches and a fever. They say that some studies have found that flu vaccinations are associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome (a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system damages its nerve cells) in about 0.000001% of cases. However, the CDC has also found studies that find no association between flu shots and GBS. No conclusive evidence has been found on this subject.
Another reason that people don’t get the flu shot is to avoid healthcare settings which may be riskier in terms of COVID-19. This concern is valid, but other options are available.
Many stores and pharmacies are offering flu shots. Some are even offering discounts to those who get a flu vaccine. Safeway, which offers free flu shots through with most insurance companies, is offering a 10% grocery discount with every flu shot. Whitworth has also organized flu clinics for both students and employees, where the flu shots were only $10.
Come up with whatever excuse you want, but none of them are a valid reason to ignore your health or the health of others.
Our healthcare system is straining to deal with COVID-19, which is killing people every day. There is no need to add flu patients to the equation.
We need to stop making excuses.
Get a flu shot.