Get the Vaccine, Not the Flu
August 28, 2023

Read time: 4 min. 

You’re not feeling well; your whole body hurts, you’re tired, and you have a 101-degree temperature. Anyone who has ever felt this way knows exactly what this is. You have the flu.  

But you don’t have to take it lying down. The best way to prevent the flu, especially during peak season between October and May, is by getting the influenza vaccine. CDC recommendation is for everyone 6 months and older, including pregnant women and adults 65 years and above, to get a flu vaccine every year. The flu doesn’t discriminate; it’s no fun for anyone.   

Here are 10 reasons why it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get vaccinated:    

1. Flu viruses are constantly changing. 

Flu vaccines may be updated from one year to the next. This is to protect against the viruses research suggests will be common during the upcoming flu season.
2. Your protection from a flu vaccine declines over time. 

Without good protection against the flu, COVID-19, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), you run the risk of being infected with all three viruses. These infections can weaken your immune system, making you vulnerable to the severe complications the viruses can produce, including death.  
3. The flu is different from the common cold.

While they are both viral infections, the flu is caused by the influenza virus, and the common cold is usually caused by rhinovirus and adenovirus. The flu is a more serious disease that can have severe complications. The common cold is a milder upper respiratory disease.  

Common Cold Symptoms  Common Flu Symptoms 
Stuffy nose  Fever of 100 degrees and above  
Sneezing  Headaches 
Sore throat  Severe aches and pains 
Mild to moderate coughing  Fatigue and weakness lasting up to 2-3 weeks 
  Extreme exhaustion  
  Coughing, which can be severe 

4. The flu is highly contagious.

The flu is a highly contagious, debilitating disease that can lead to complications, hospitalizations, and even death.  

If you become infected with the flu virus, you may not be aware at first. It may take 2-3 days, or up to 1 week, for symptoms to show.  

Please note: during this time without symptoms, you are contagious and can still infect others. 

5. Symptoms are severe and can even be dangerous.

The start of flu symptoms can leave a lasting impression.  

It happens suddenly, with a high fever, shaking chills, fatigue, and intense muscle and joint pain so severe you can’t get out of bed. Some patients also experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Symptoms may last anywhere between 4 to 7 days.  

It is possible to develop pneumonia, which may lead to hospitalization and require the patient to be put on a breathing machine. The flu virus may even affect the kidneys, leading to dialysis and death.  

6. The shot is the best way to avoid the flu.

The best way to avoid the flu is to get the flu vaccine at the beginning of each flu season, which begins in October and ends in May. In addition to the vaccine, there are ways you can protect yourself: 

  • Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water and wash for 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday). 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away. If you have no tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, never your hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. If you are ill, stay home and rest.

7.  The vaccine doesn’t cause the flu.

The flu vaccine does not contain a live influenza virus. It contains an inactive form of the virus, which cannot infect you.  

8. You may feel unwell after the flu shot, but it’s still better than getting the

There could be two reasons for getting sick after receiving the flu vaccine:  

  • You may have caught the flu a few days before getting the flu shot and had not shown any symptoms yet.  
  • The flu and common cold seasons happen at the same time, so you can still get a cold even if you received the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine will only protect you against the influenza virus.  

9. Children under 5 and adults over the age of 65 are more at risk of complications.

Anyone who develops the flu is at risk of developing complications from the disease. However, those more at risk are:  

  • Children less than 5 years old
  • Individuals 65 years of age or older
  • Individuals who suffer from asthma, emphysema, or pulmonary conditions like COPD
  • Individuals who have a heart condition
  • Individuals with diabetes
  • Individuals whose immune system is weak
  • Pregnant women

10. Even those allergic to eggs can get the flu vaccine.

Having an egg allergy should not stop you from getting vaccinated. There are only three reasons to avoid the flu vaccine:  

  • If you developed a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past 
  • If you developed Guillain-Barré syndrome in the past
  • If you are ill, with or without a fever, at the time of vaccination. You can get the vaccine after all your symptoms have gone away.

Many places offer the flu vaccine for free or low cost, especially in the fall, the ideal time to get vaccinated.  

Check with your doctor, pharmacist, or local or state health department to find local resources. Then, get the vaccination. It’s the smart thing to do.