Flu season is well underway, and every flu season brings out two types of people. For one type, the flu shot is a necessity; it is a responsibility; it is an obligation. For the other type, the flu shot is painful; it is insignificant; it is an inconvenience. Ultimately, this is an unfortunate dichotomy. Opposing sides where each believe that their reason(s) for receiving the flu shot, or not, are valid and correct.
I am here to tell you as a former manager of a public health Infectious Disease program, and now a Professor of Nursing, that getting the flu shot is the best way to protect you and your loved ones against the influenza virus. Sure, I can give you the scientific evidence to support getting the flu shot, such as there is significant association between influenza and having a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke within a week to several weeks after getting the infection (Kwong et al., 2018; Chow et al., 2020). I can also tell you that every year influenza kills thousands of people, specifically those who are older, very young, and anyone with already existing health issues. Furthermore, let’s not forget that we are in the middle of a respiratory pandemic where signs and symptoms of infection are similar to that of influenza. Getting your flu shot will help healthcare providers in determining a course of treatment and testing for you if you become ill.
On the other hand, as a partner, mother, daughter, and granddaughter, getting the flu shot helps protect me from giving influenza to the people in my life who I love and cherish. In an effort to try and explain this further, I believe that getting your flu shot is similar to why we put on our seatbelt when we get into the car. We do so in the unlikely event that if we were to get into a crash, we and the people we love are protected. This same safety practice holds true for why we get our flu shot: in the unlikely event that we are exposed to the influenza virus, then we are all protected.
Therefore, this flu season, buckle up! Get into your car, ensure everyone has on their seatbelt, and get to a place where you can get a flu shot. Let’s all be the type of person who feels that the flu shot is a necessity, a responsibility, and an obligation in order to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.
Dr. Erin Courtney is registered nurse (RN) and is currently a full-time faculty Professor in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program at Lambton College in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Courtney spent over 20 years in Public Health and managed an Infectious Disease program for over 7 years.