“Tis’ the season…” Those words usually conjure up thoughts of the winter holidays. Shopping, traveling to be with friends and family. Huge dinners with everyone’s favorite holiday dishes. Presents!
There is another season that is a lot less merry and bright. With cooler weather comes flu season. Instead of happy thoughts, there is caution and for some a measure of fear. The Center for Disease Control reports that on average 24,000 people die from the flu each year. A CNN news story put that number as high as 49,000 annually and over 500,000 worldwide.
Keeping employees healthy is critical to businesses already lean because of layoffs, hiring freezes and just doing more with less. The flu can take an employee out of work for days, even weeks. A company can’t mandate flu shots for employees. “You can take a horse to water…” but you can’t make them take a flu shot.
In the same CNN article, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children over the age of six months get the flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available. Those that are sick and the elderly are also strongly urged to get the shot. It makes sense to take preventative steps to avoid a serious illness or lessen its effects or shorten the duration.
Over the years, the flu virus has become resistant to current vaccines. A new quadravalent vaccine, designed to combat four strains of flu, will be available for this flu season. Children will benefit most, since they are more susceptible to newer strains. The downside is the new vaccine is so new, not enough may be available to meet the need.
New for this year are “designer” variations for those with certain allergies. Don’t like the regular deep-needle injection? There are new delivery systems that only prick the skin. These options make getting the shots easier but may not be available in all areas.
With the many benefits of flu shots, it’s a wonder everyone doesn’t get one. Every season there are numerous community organizations and healthcare facilities that offer free flu shots. Employers subsidize the cost or offer them free through the company’s healthcare plans. Even with the benefits, there are drawbacks.
Some people just don’t like shots. Fear of needles, a bad childhood experience, or a previous bad reaction to medications can keep people away. Personal objections aside, Truestar Health listed some side effects of flu shots and those who should not take the shots at all.
The flu shot is not a guarantee that you won’t get sick. The flu shots are at best 70 to 90 percent effective. You may still get the flu, but chances are good it will be milder and won’t land you in the hospital.
Some flu vaccines contain mercury, which protects the vaccine against bacterial infection but is also toxic. It stays in the body and can affect the brain, nerve cells and a cause a host of other unpleasant side effects. Mercury has also been linked to other medical conditions, such as an increased tendency for patients to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
With the new strains of vaccine that eliminates some allergic reactions, the most discomfort you may experience is soreness at the injection site. Some people, like someone who is pregnant, running a fever or with certain allergies should avoid the shots completely. It may be necessary to roll the dice and hope you don’t come down with the flu to avoid even more serious consequences. Staying away from co-workers if you come down with symptoms will let others stay healthy while you’re at home on the mend.
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