No matter how many times you wash your hands or how conscious you are about not touching your face, seasonal influenza—the flu—has a simple way of sneaking into your system: through conversation.
That's right: the flu can spread by talking.
Viruses spread through droplets, which commonly transport via sneezing and coughing, but experts believe that they can also spread when people are chatting. If you're thinking you just won't talk to anyone who is seemingly sick, that's not the best defense either. You see, most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning one day before symptoms develop. So unless you're planning to hibernate this flu season, you really should consider getting a flu shot, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends every year for nearly everyone aged 6 months old and older.
Need more convincing? Here are 5 Reasons You Should Consider Getting a Flu Shot Every Year:
Strength in numbers. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, fewer people are affected and less flu can spread through the community. Pay it forward!
Flu strains can change each year. Because flu viruses constantly change, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year to keep up with changing flu viruses. Even if the virus strains are the same from year to year, antibodies induced by the vaccine decline over time.
A flu shot cannot cause influenza. Flu shots contain either "inactivated" viruses or no flu viruses at all. Nasal spray vaccines contain live viruses, but they are weakened and cannot cause influenza in healthy individuals. Different side effects can be associated with the flu vaccine, but they are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to flu symptoms.
Having the flu is just plain awful. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder and generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.
You may have several flu vaccine options! Be proactive about your health by learning about the flu and about the vaccines available to help protect you. There are several flu vaccine options available that are made to help protect you from either three (trivalent) or four (quadrivalent) types of flu viruses. The nasal spray is an option for all healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. There are also egg-free vaccines for people with severe egg allergies. You should talk to a medical professional, such as a pharmacist or a doctor, about the vaccination that's right for you.