Original photo by Brittany Cole
Recent events about illnesses while on board a plane shows how vulnerable we are when we fly. In this case, the passengers were in contact with others who had influenza, a highly contagious disease with a short incubation period. It is believed they were in contact with people who attended a Mecca event where the exposure occurred. Contact with a virus plus crowds of people spells disaster. Luckily, medical personnel were on top of things and went right to work containing the contagion. Could more have been done?
Don’t Underestimate the Good That Comes from a Flu Shot
Each year millions of people get a flu shot. They recognize the need and believe it will keep them from getting the disease. Getting back to the travelers who became ill, they should have gotten a flu shot before travel. For the rest of us, here are the facts to support getting the shot.
A Simple Disease Becomes a Deadly Disease
Influenza is particularly hard on those over the age of 65 and especially for those with chronic diseases. Influenza has a nasty habit of turning into pneumonia in those groups. The combination can be deadly. Thousands die every year from this disease duo. Even though the pneumonia vaccine is helpful, it may not protect you from an influenza induced pneumonia. Pneumonia in an elderly person generally results in hospitalization.
The Unfortunate Problem of Timing and Similar Viruses
Why do some people refuse to get the vaccine even though they hear about people dying from the flu? In spite of the vaccines’ proven effectiveness and few side effects, many believe it will do more harm than good. They have their reasons. A reason suggests that they thought it through when in reality their decisions are more myth based than reason. One of the biggest myths is that the vaccine causes the flu. Some people continue to believe this even though that has not happened in decades. Today’s vaccine does not cause the flu. This has been proven through research.
The reluctance of some is understandable. It’s natural to believe you have the flu if you get sick right after getting the vaccine. There are two primary reasons why you may become ill after the shot. Flu shots are given at the same time that influenza starts circulating. It takes the vaccine 1-2 weeks to build enough immunity to prevent the disease. If you are exposed to the flu virus during that time frame, immunity may not develop fast enough to protect you. Since the incubation period is so short, you get the flu. More likely, however, is the problem with other circulating viruses. There are thousands of flu-like viruses out there ready to infect us at the same time as the flu. If you just got your flu shot but then you are exposed to another virus, your illness is from that virus, not the flu shot.
Don’t High Five Yet!
Regardless of whether you are traveling or staying put, it is important to get the flu shot every year. For those of you who say “I don’t need a flu shot. I never get the flu.” Congratulations! You can give credit to the thousands who did get the shot. They had protection and therefore did not pass the virus to you. You were lucky to have been around them and not others who think the way you do. How long will your luck last?
Photo by Kevin Grieve