Tis the season to share sneezin’! It is that time of year again where people are sharing a lot more than just presents. Cold and flu season tends to wreak havoc on all of our lives. You can’t really escape it, short of hiding away in your home with windows and vents sealed. You also can’t have any visitors and make sure your animals are inside potty trained to avoid any unnecessary door opening. Since most of us do not have the luxury of barricading ourselves indoors during cold and flu season, we must interact with the rest of the sick world at large. This is where life gets a little dicey. Every cough and sneeze is looked upon as suspect. We get upset at co-workers for showing up to work clearly past the threshold of contagious. We get upset at employers for having such a frigid sick policy “encouraging” employees to show up to work even when they’re sick. Some may start wishing for policies to be implemented at the airports to screen sick people before letting them on a plane. If you have kids, when they are sick, you understand first-hand how disruptive a sickness could be to your entire week. Some parents give other parents the stink eye when a kid shows up to school or public event with a runny nose. Anything that puts you or anyone in your household at risk for the cold or flu, is frustrating and in our crazed brains, completely avoidable.
The reality is it’s not so avoidable. As a society, in order to contribute and to function, we all have to move about and get things done. Many of us do not have the luxury of time to be sidelined by sickness. Even if you were trying to be a Good Samaritan by avoiding public transportation, public institutions and the public as a whole when you’re sick, you may be too late.
According to CDC.gov1, healthy adults can be infectious to others up to one day before symptoms develop, and five to seven days after finally becoming sick. This means, you can essentially walk around for a whole day exposing your germs to everyone in your vicinity and not knowingly be patient zero of knocking out an entire city with the flu. Multiply that by a few million and you’ve just infected a majority of the world. There isn’t much you can do once symptoms are full blow, beside manage the symptoms. But there are steps that could be taken before symptoms even show. The best thing many could do, especially for children and the elderly, is get flu shots. They are not one hundred percent and a new strain of the flu is birthed every year, but the flu shot can protect from the worst of what’s still out there, that is not new. We don’t know what mutations of these viruses can do and the kind of havoc it could cause to our bodies, but it’s best to be protected when faced with such scenarios.
Flu season kicks off in the late fall or beginning of winter. They start releasing the flu shot late summer to early fall. For some reason, many people wait to get the shot, even though it takes some time for the shot to become effective. According to health.com2, it takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine for your body to build up enough antibodies to protect against the flu. So to wait till you’ve been exposed is counterproductive to how the vaccine is supposed to work.
Every year, the flu morphs and transforms into something uglier and more brutal than the year before. People get a false sense of confidence since they didn’t catch the flu the year prior, they don’t think they can catch it. Some people think if they are careful enough, they can avoid getting the flu. Because the virus changes all the time, there’s no real way to protect against it and there’s also no way to tell how aggressive it will be. Getting a flu shot will blanket you from all possible scenarios, whereas not getting a shot will protect you from nothing.
Every year we hear about many deaths attributed to the flu. Very young and very old people are especially susceptible. As are people with pre-existing health conditions. It is easy to exasperate existing health issues when introducing and unidentifiable virus to the body. The flu literally kills tens of thousands of people every year and 2017 was especially deadly. There’s no way to know which strand is out there and how the strand will interact with other strands once in your body. It could turn deadly very quickly and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
When your body has the flu, the flu takes up a mind of its own. No matter how much you are willing to fight or ignore symptoms, the symptoms eventually get the best of you. With respiratory issues that come along with the flu, your body can easily descend into bronchitis or even worse, pneumonia. Protecting yourself from the flu overall will lessen the possibilities of getting bronchitis or pneumonia and at worse, lessen the symptoms impact on your body.
Ultimately, the flu shot doesn’t hurt. They’ve perfected the procedure and it is quick and painless. Better yet, it doesn’t cost you a dime. Most insurance will cover the flu shot, most employers will cover shots for their employees or you can even go into your local pharmacy and ask for it. It behooves the society at large when we are all protected.