Did you get your flu shot this year? If not, you still have time. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) getting the vaccination in December or even as late as January is better than not getting one at all, especially if you have a disabling chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease.
If you are a healthy person, getting sick with influenza (flu) is not fun. You could be laid up for as long as two weeks, and antibiotics won’t help because the flu is a virus. You just have to ride it out, along with the body aches, fever, headache and sore throat that are commonly associated with the flu.
But, if you are already struggling with your health, you want to avoid getting the flu, which could add stress to your body that is far worse than a preventive shot in the arm.
Flu Shot Can Protect Heart Health
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that flu shots reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and even death by 36 percent. And for people who already have heart problems, getting a flu shot reduced their risk of heart attack by 55 percent.
“Our study provides solid evidence that the flu shot helps prevent heart disease in vulnerable patients – with the best protection in the highest risk patients,” said Jacob Udell, author of the study and a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “These findings are extraordinary given the potential for this vaccine to serve as yearly preventative therapy for patients with heart disease, the leading cause of death among men and women in North America.”
A Flu Shot Reduces Chronic Health Risks
The CDC also says that people with chronic health conditions who get the flu are also at a high risk for developing flu-related complications such as pneumonia, or bronchitis, which could make their health worse.
The CDC recommends that people who have asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) cystic fibrosis, blood, kidney or liver disorders, cancer or other disabling conditions should avoid getting the flu. The most obvious way to do that is to get a yearly flu shot. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance policies must cover the cost of a flu shot as a preventive care service.
Take Steps to Stop Germs
Other ways to avoid flu are simply common sense good-health habits, such as eating well and getting plenty of rest and exercise. Also, don’t spread germs. Cover your mouth when you cough and your nose when you sneeze. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. And disinfect your home regularly because touching germy surfaces and then rubbing your eyes, scratching your nose or wiping your mouth with your hand is a sure way to spread germs.