Doctors Warn Skipping This Yearly Vaccine Could Severely Compromise Your Health

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the flu vaccine. This causes many people to shrug their shoulders and skip it — which, for some, can turn deadly. No matter your reason for avoiding it, if you’re able, you should seriously consider it. Here’s why you should get a flu shot no matter what, and where you can get one for free.

Is the flu really life-threatening?

Man blowing his nose

There are some misconceptions about how threatening the flu really is. | iStock.com

Anyone can get the flu. You’ve probably even had it at least a few times before. Certain populations — children under five, seniors over 65, pregnant women, and people living with obesity — are at greater risk of serious complications — and even death — as a result of the infection.

Members of these populations suffer from compromised immune systems, meaning their bodies can’t fight off flu viruses as effectively.

Here’s how the flu affects your body

Side view of sick woman having coffee

The flu can cause infections in various parts of the body.| iStock.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd

The majority of people who get the flu recover within days to weeks without severe illness. Others develop serious, even life-threatening health complications.

The flu virus can cause infections of the upper and lower respiratory tracts, inflammation of the heart and brain, sepsis, and even organ failure. These complications often result in hospitalization, and sometimes become fatal.

A yearly vaccine is your — and others’ — best defense

Nurse fills syringe from injection vial

Being vaccinated is the safest way to protect against the flu. | iStock.com/khuntapol

Practicing good hygiene can offer you and those around you some protection from getting sick. However, getting a flu shot is still the most effective method. It protects not only you, but those around you, preventing you from passing the virus on to others.

Officials no longer recommend getting the vaccine via nasal spray. It’s considered the most ineffective way to administrate the vaccine and protect yourself from the virus.

Does a flu shot actually give you the flu?

Vaccine in vial

Getting the flu vaccine will not give you the flu. | iStock.com/Mckyartstudio

No.┬áSome people do experience mild side effects from their flu shot — a low-grade fever and muscle aches aren’t uncommon. But those are from the shot, not a result of the flu virus.

A flu shot contains either an inactive flu virus (that cannot infect you) or no flu virus at all. If you do still get the flu even after your flu shot, it isn’t because of the vaccine itself. Just because it isn’t always 100 percent effective, though, doesn’t mean you should skip it.

Is it even worth it?

Woman blowing nose

It’s better to be safe than sorry. | Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images

You’ve probably heard that getting a flu shot doesn’t always guarantee you won’t get sick. While this may be true, health officials still recommend getting one every year. Here’s why.

The vaccine will significantly decrease your odds of getting the flu. More importantly, if you do still get the flu — even though you got a flu shot — you won’t get as sick as you might have without it. The shot still protects you against the virus, even if you do experience some mild symptoms.

Where can you get a flu shot for free?

Walgreens

You can receive a flu shot at your local drugstore. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You don’t have to pay out-of-pocket to protect yourself against the flu. Plenty of locations in your area offer the vaccine at no charge, including:

  • Walmart
  • Walgreens
  • Target and CVS
  • Your doctor
  • Urgent care

Unfortunately, even though it’s better to get a flu shot than skip it, you’re still at risk for getting the virus the vaccine is supposed to prevent. It’s important to know the symptoms, just in case.

Do you have the flu?

Sick woman cough in bed under blanket

The flu has a couple of warning signs. | iStock.com/samotrebizan

One of the best ways to prevent spreading the flu, aside from vaccination, is to recognize its symptoms and treat yourself at home. If you have the flu, you’ll most likely experience:

  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough

While these symptoms might not necessarily be life-threatening to you, they could be to someone else. Getting a flu shot can help protect you and those around you from getting sick before flu season hits.

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