Five Reasons to Get Your Flu Shot

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 6, 2014

We have five reasons why you should get your flu shot this year.

Contributor: Dr. Paul Sax is Clinical Director of the HIV Program and Division of Infectious Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Lisa Owens is Medical Director of BWH Primary Physicians.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than half of adults (aged 18 years and older) received a flu vaccine in recent years. Obviously, some of us still need convincing about the need for flu vaccination.

Here are five reasons why you should get your flu shot this year:

1. The flu is more serious than you may realize

According to a study by the CDC, more than 200,000 people in the United States, on average, are hospitalized each year for illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections. The flu can also be deadly. From 1976 to 2006, estimates of annual flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from 3,000 to nearly 49,000 people.

Certain groups of adults are at higher risk for serious illness and complications from the flu, including:

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Vaccinations – Not Just for Kids, Adults Need Them Too!

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 5, 2014

Immunity against some diseases can gradually fade away over the years.

Adults who have never received childhood vaccinations can have serious complications from diseases such as the flu, pertussis, or pneumonia. And for adults who did receive all the recommended vaccines as children, immunity against some diseases can gradually fade away over the years, meaning that booster shots are needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults (19 to 65+ years) receive the following vaccines:

Pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine

This vaccine protects against serious infections caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but certain people are at risk for complications. You should get the pneumonia vaccine if you are 65 or older. If you are younger than 65, you should get this shot if you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart or lung diseases, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, or cirrhosis. Other people who should get this shot are people with a weakened immune system, such as those with kidney failure, a damaged spleen or no spleen, HIV/AIDS, certain types of cancer, or those who smoke.

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Confused about Flu Vaccinations? Get the Flu Facts.

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 4, 2012

Flu season begins in October and peaks in February. Even getting the flu vaccine in January or February may provide protection, especially if the flu season peaks late.

Contributor: Dr. Paul Sax is Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His clinical interests include infectious diseases, such as influenza, the Zika virus, and HIV/AIDS.

 

Each fall, you probably see lots of messages urging you to get your annual flu vaccine.  But do you know why you need a flu vaccine every year and when is the best time to get vaccinated?  Read on to get the flu facts.

  • What is the flu? 

Influenza (flu) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by flu viruses.  Symptoms of the flu include fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a nonproductive cough. There are three major groups of flu viruses: Types A, B, or C. Within each group there are many different strains of flu viruses and they change frequently. Type A and B flu strains cause the most serious illness.

Seasonal flu is not a specific type of flu virus.  It refers to the group of flu viruses that cause illness each year from late fall to early winter.  These viruses usually reappear each winter in slightly different forms.  Each spring, public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) review scientific information to determine which flu viruses are most likely to cause illness in the upcoming flu season.

According to a study by the CDC, more than 200,000 people in the United States, on average, are hospitalized each year for illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections. The flu also can be deadly. From 1976 to 2006, estimates of annual flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from 3,000 to nearly 49,000 people.

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