Should You Get a Flu Shot? The Pros and Cons of Getting Vaccinated

Almost every doctor will recommend that you get a flu vaccine each year. But why are some people hesitant? Are there certain side effects to the shot? Is it even effective? We took a look at the pros and cons of getting a flu shot to make your decision a bit easier. (Spoiler alert: You should most likely get vaccinated.)

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Should you get a flu shot? Probably. | Scyther5/Getty Images

Pro: Getting a flu vaccination might save your life

This one is obvious. Getting vaccinated might mean preventing yourself from ever getting the virus. And with the 2017-2018 flu season having higher-than-normal death totals (110 children died in the U.S. last year), it’s probably something you don’t want to risk. The flu can lead to other complications, such as pneumonia, which can be very difficult for someone with a compromised immune system to fight off. That’s why those with weak immune systems, specifically young children and elders, should definitely get vaccinated.

For pregnant women, getting a flu vaccine is especially important in order to protect both you and your baby. Those around you should be vaccinated, too.

Pro: Avoiding the flu means avoiding sick days at work or missing school and falling behind

For those who are paid hourly, missing a week of work for the flu virus can make a huge difference in that month’s paycheck. Calling out sick means you’re sacrificing those hours, and it might mean bills get backed up or you can’t have much of a social life because you need to spend the money on other things.

For kids, not getting vaccinated means they run the risk of getting the virus and missing up to a week of school. (It can be far more than a week if any complications arise.) Falling behind might affect their grades and can create added stress.

Con: You might still get the flu

While the flu vaccine does its best to prevent infection, it’s possible that you may still contract the virus. According to Healthline, the flu vaccine takes about two weeks to fully kick in, so your body isn’t completely immune for a little while. You might still get the virus during this time. Some years, the vaccine is not as effective as researchers had hoped, so it’s possible to get it even after the vaccine has kicked in. Always wash your hands and practice proper health precautions to lower your chances of getting sick, even if you’ve been vaccinated.

Con: It’s possible to have a bad reaction to the vaccine

Certain vaccinations can cause negative reactions, or you might feel sick after being vaccinated. A severe reaction to the vaccine usually comes in the form of difficulty breathing, swelling of the eyes or lips, tachycardia (very fast heart rate), dizziness, and fever. It’s rare to experience these side effects, but it’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you notice any. The most common side effects are redness or pain around the injection site, and this should go away on its own.

Yes, the flu shot can be painful and there is a chance it might not work, but the rewards almost always outweigh the risks. Certain people, such as very young infants or those who have had past severe reactions to flu vaccines, should not get the shot. But for almost everyone else, it’s definitely recommended. Feel free to discuss it with your doctor, but it has the potential to save your life.

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