Millions of people get the flu each year, landing hundreds of thousands in the hospital and killing tens of thousands. According to Public Health Corps, the flu killed eight times more Americans last year (79,000) than drunk drivers (10,585), yet only 37.1 percent of the U.S. population get vaccinated. This “flu vaccine hesitancy” is driven by an abundance of misinformation online.
Flu shots are the single best way to protect against the flu, according to the consensus of health experts, who recommend them for everyone ages six months and older. Here are seven benefits of the flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick. Flu vaccine prevents millions of flu-related illnesses, doctor’s visits and deaths each year. During 2017-2018, for example, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.1 million illnesses, 3.7 million medical visits and 8,000 deaths.
- Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working-age adults and older adults.
- Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
- Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
- Flu vaccine can be life-saving in children.
- Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
- Getting vaccinated may protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies, young children, seniors and people with chronic health conditions.
Most health insurance providers cover the cost of the flu shot, and pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens provide free or low-cost vaccines. For more information on flu vaccines, visit cdc.gov/flu. PM