In spite of an overwhelming endorsement from medical experts, some folks continue to be skeptical about the flu vaccine.
In preparation for this past flu season, the Centers for Disease Control said 47.1 percent of Americans were inoculated against the flu in 2014, a 0.9 percent increase in participation. Indiana, however, saw a 3.2 percent per capita spike in vaccinations that year: 44.7 percent of Hoosiers were inoculated against influenza.
Part of the concern about vaccinations grows out of a federal program in 1976. Approximately 40 million people got shots, and about 400 developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a form of paralysis. Some died.
Scientists were never able to figure out what caused those 400 cases, but some say it might have had no connection to the shots. About 140 new cases of the disease are diagnosed in the United States every week.
In any case, medical experts argue that not taking the vaccine is a lot more dangerous than taking it.
Some point out that for the vast majority of patients, the flu is no big deal. Its victims will feel lousy for a few days, and then they’ll be back at work or in school, good as new.
Why, then, should people take the risk of getting the shots?
The answer, the experts say, is that in a very few cases, the flu can be a very big deal. It can be deadly. Influenza kills between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans every year.
And the only way to protect yourself from becoming one of those victims is to take the vaccine.
Thus, the advice from the experts is straightforward: get a vaccination.
Children younger than 6 months are too young for the vaccine, but everyone else should get it. The CDC this year is recommending against the use of an intranasal flu vaccine this coming season, saying in June it was found to be much less effective than the traditional one given with a syringe.
What will happen if people ignore that advice? Medical experts say the answer is simple: a lot more people will die.
Flu season is rapidly approaching. If you want to be protected, get the shot.