Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services 

There are many reasons to get an annual flu shot


September 1, 2017

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are hospitalized from flu. People age 65 years and older are at increased risk for serious flu-related complications and account for 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations. A CDC study published last summer found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalization among people 65 to 74 years old by 61 percent. Vaccinated people age 75 and older were similarly protected, with a 57 percent reduction of flu-related hospitalization. Hospitalization and recovery hinder independent living, especially among older adults. Skipping a flu shot can have a huge impact on your health and independence each year.

Not only does receiving a flu vaccine help to protect yourself, but it helps to protect those around you. When more people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, the safer that community is when there is exposure to that disease. Getting vaccinated contributes to the health of your community, encouraging protection through “community immunity”. This is especially important for those who have daily interactions with young children and older adults.

The flu season may start as early as October and continue as late as May. This is potentially eight months of exposure. The flu strain changes every year, so receiving the flu vaccine every season is the best defense against it, according to the CDC.

Flu immunization is a safe and important way to protect against a flu infection. With

the help of the flu vaccine, the spread and impact of flu is mitigated. Outbreaks may still occur, but their impact will be lessened with vaccination. The flu vaccine not only helps prevent contracting the flu, but it reduces the severity of the disease if you are infected.

In addition to receiving your flu vaccine, there are several simple ways to prevent and reduce the spread of the flu. Check out the list below:

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds and remember to scrub between the fingers. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands afterwards.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school.

• Stay home if you are ill and try to avoid others who are ill.

• Drink plenty of water and eat nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• Get plenty of sleep and rest.

Do your part to keep yourself and the community healthy by receiving the flu vaccine this year. For more information, ask your doctor or local clinic about receiving the flu vaccine.


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