Flu season is upon us and right now is the best time to protect yourself by getting a flu shot. Cases of the flu will peak from December to March, circulating at their highest levels throughout the United States.
Here's why you should get a flu shot.
1. It's free. If you have insurance, you can get a flu shot free of charge at your doctor's office, your local health department, or other various locations. If you don't have insurance, it's still cheap. Vaccines are available at large companies including Walmart and CVS. Costco has the cheapest available version for $15 per shot.
2. You can still spread the flu even if you don't feel sick. Some people who get the flu will have minor symptoms or none at all. Even so, you can still pass it on to someone who may experience much more severe or life-threatening symptoms from it.
3. You'll save your sick days. Even if you do end up contracting the flu after getting a shot, the vaccine will likely make your illness much milder, reducing the amount of work you'll miss. The flu accounts for 11 million lost workdays and $7 billion in lost productivity each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. You won't get the flu just from getting the shot. It's a myth that you can contract the flu just by getting a flu shot. While the vaccine does contain flu viruses, these viruses have been inactivated so you won't contract it from the injection alone. The worst symptoms you're likely to experience are some aches, swelling at the injection site, or a low-grade fever.
5. You can save someone a trip to the hospital. Many people are at high risk for complications from the flu, including very young children, people over 65, and those with pre-existing conditions like heart disease or asthma. These people are at a much greater risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia or infection that can potentially be deadly. While you might not fall into any of these categories yourself, you could pass it on to someone for whom it may be life threatening.