#NowIKnow: It’s important for everyone to get a flu shot

#NowIKnow: It’s important for everyone to get a flu shot

Written by Sara Brown, Senior Marketing Manager, Quest Diagnostics Health & Wellness

Others getting their flu shots make a huge difference in my life.

I have two germ factories at home, my 7-year old son Archer and my nearly 2-year old son Nolan. I love those boys dearly, but with the realities that are daycare and elementary school, we’re pretty much guaranteed to have a virus occur in our family every 1-2 months once September rolls around. And it doesn’t really let up until late March into early April.

As someone with a chronic disease which has no cure, Rheumatoid Arthritis, I rely each and every year on my flu shot to help keep me healthy. But more importantly, I rely on those around me to get their flu shots too. Because Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, I take immune suppressants, strong medications that knock down my overactive immune system, every day.

While the normal person can withstand being in a room with 10 sick people and walk away unscathed, my chances of coming down with an illness skyrocket. And the chances don’t just go up. If I do get an illness, the results for me are so much worse than a normal, healthy individual.

I have friends who have gotten the flu, especially last year when the number of diagnosed cases of flu seemed so high. With under a week of rest and recovery along with doses of antivirals, they were as good as new. But for this RA patient on immune suppressants, I have a much higher chance of being admitted to the hospital for simple illnesses like the flu, to deal with complications. It takes much longer for me to heal and recover, and therefore, I would do quite a bit to stay flu-free.

I, along with my husband and our two boys, get our flu shots every September. It’s the reason why we can continue to thrive in our house and not lose too much time being sick. And in late February 2018, I really became aware of the value of the flu shot when I was diagnosed with Influenza B.

This was actually the first time I’ve been confirmed with that diagnosis. Although I didn’t end up in the hospital, it took a full week to feel semi-normal, and for another week or so after that I still felt off. I couldn’t go back to taking my RA medications right away, so I then had to deal with those negative effects too. Had I not gotten that flu shot in September, I’m fairly certain I would have been in the hospital, and had my family not had their flu shots, it’s very likely one of them would have come down with it too.

The flu shot is not there to protect you 100% from getting the flu, but to have higher protection than if you weren’t vaccinated, and it is also to lessen the effects of the illnesses you do come down with.

From someone who relies on the people around me to be healthy, please don’t look at last year as a reason not to get a flu shot, but rather, as a better reason than ever to do so in 2018.

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