Few people look forward to getting a flu shot, but if you need some extra convincing for why you should get poked, consider these numbers. Over the past two years, influenza contributed to the deaths …
Few people look forward to getting a flu shot, but if you need some extra convincing for why you should get poked, consider these numbers. Over the past two years, influenza contributed to the deaths of at least 50 people in Wyoming. Hundreds of Wyomingites were hospitalized with the flu last year, while thousands of cases were reported across the state.
Journalists in Wyoming are used to reporting about influenza cases each year, but those statistics became tragically real when a friend and colleague died from complications from the flu last year.
Influenza remains a real threat, and health officials are urging people to get their flu shots sooner rather than later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting the vaccine by the end of October. The good news: The shot is available at multiple locations around Park County.
If Australia is any indicator, America could see a severe flu season this year. Australia’s flu season started in April — two months earlier than normal — and continued into October, with more flu-related deaths than usual, according to The New York Times.
“It’s too early to tell for sure, because sometimes Australia is predictive and sometimes it’s not,” Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the CDC, told the Times. “But the best move is to get the vaccine right now.”
While you may be healthy and think a flu shot is unnecessary, it’s important to think about the people around you. Getting vaccinated helps protect those who are especially vulnerable: Babies, older people and those with certain health conditions, who may not be able to get a flu shot.
A simple shot is the most important step in protecting against flu viruses, yet many Wyomingites will choose not to get vaccinated this season. The Cowboy State has one of the lowest rates for vaccination coverage in the U.S., with only about 39 percent of adults receiving a flu shot in 2018-19. Among children, Wyoming’s rate was the lowest in the nation at 46 percent, according to the CDC.
Public health officials recommend the flu shot for everyone over the age of 6 months.
People come up with all sorts of reasons not to get an annual flu shot — they may be too busy, or it’s just not a priority. But what’s more dangerous is all the misinformation spreading about immunizations.
A registered nurse recently addressed some of the common misconceptions about flu shots in a Facebook post that went viral, with more than 375,000 shares.
“I advocate for vaccines because I’ve held a newborn with fever while the doctor does a lumbar puncture,” Beth Purkey writes in the post. “Because I’ve put a grandfather on a ventilator who couldn’t breathe and because I’ve put the final drape over a mother of [three]’s face after she beat breast cancer but died of the flu. I did all of this knowing full well that it was preventable.”
As influenza season begins, do your part in helping prevent the viruses from spreading, especially to those who may not be able to fight the flu.