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Influenza won't kill most healthy people or even cause them to have to go to the doctor, so do you really need to take the time (and perhaps spend the money) to get a flu shot this year? Yes! Here's why.

People who are at serious risk of developing complications if they catch the flu are always advised to get a flu shot, the formulation of which is updated every year to offer the best possible protection against a virus that can kill.

Vulnerable groups include the elderly, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis HIV, or kidney failure, pregnant women, and those who live in long-term care facilities like retirement homes. If you work with people who fall into any of these groups as a front-line health care provider, you'll also, of course, be offered — and often required to receive — a flu vaccine. [1]

What if you're a completely healthy adult, though? Should you still get a flu shot? You'll have heard that the flu isn't usually dangerous for people like you, after all, and you may well have experienced the flu before. So what is there to be worried about? Do you really need to take the time to get a flu shot, and perhaps risk some irritation at the injection site? Here are some reasons you'll want to seriously consider being vaccinated against the flu even if you are a completely healthy, working-age, adult. 

The Flu Sucks — Even For Otherwise Healthy People

Despite the fact that new and updated flu vaccines are made available for each flu season, between five and 20 percent of the US population still ends up with the flu every year. Though it is true that otherwise healthy people usually don't have to go to the doctor because of the flu, the illness will still have you out of action and feeling quite terrible for a week or two. [2] Fever, cough, a stuffy nose, a splitting headache, aches and pains all over the body, and horrible fatigue are really no fun. If you want to spend two weeks at home and off work, taking a vacation is a nicer idea than getting the flu.

Being Healthy Doesn't Guarantee You Won't Suffer Complications

What's more, even healthy, working-age, adults sometimes have to be hospitalized when they get the flu — the CDC estimates that flu vaccines saved 85,000 people from this fate during the 2016/2017 flu season [3]. While a nasty sinus infection is a moderate complication of the flu, severe complications of influenza include pneumonia, myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart), encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and even organ failure. Yup, that's stuff that could cost you your life. [4] While getting a flu shot won't guarantee you will not catch the flu, it will greatly reduce your risk of experiencing complications. 

Losing Out On Work May Cost You Money

The unpleasant nature of flu symptoms and the risk of complications may be enough reason for you to get a flu shot this year if you're a healthy adult, but there's also something else to consider. US workers are collectively robbed of 17 million (!!!) working days because of influenza. This costs employers, the CDC shares, "$7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity". [5] If you're self-employed, you'll be the one bearing the cost — another powerful motivator to get your vaccine this year. If you're insured in the US, however, the flu shot will cost you nothing at all. 

You're Not An Island

Even if you're not a front-line healthcare provider working with vulnerable groups of people, you'll encounter these folks in your professional or personal life. The children you teach, your elderly grandparents, your pregnant neighbor, and your diabetic friend will all benefit if you get a flu shot — because if you don't get sick, you're less likely to expose them to the flu as well. [6]

Any good citizen would take steps to steer clear of people — vulnerable and otherwise — once they develop flu symptoms. If nothing else, the flu itself will usually take care of that; you'll be too sick to go around infecting people who don't live in your household! Keep in mind, however, that the flu typically has an incubation period of two days, and that it may be as long as four days [7]. This means that you'd have plenty of opportunity to spread the flu to other people before you even know you have it. 

This Year's Flu Shot Is Better Than Last Year's

The fact that the 2017/2018 flu shot proved to be less effective than those developed in previous years may have put you off the idea of getting a shot this year. Those who design the formulation of the flu shot have learned from last year's experience and updated it, however. Australian data suggests that this year's flu vaccine is much more effective [8], making getting the shot very much worthwhile. 

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