Oct. 11, 2019 — “The flu shot is NOT always about you. It’s about protecting those around you, who cannot always protect themselves.”
A nurse’s Facebook post is going viral after she penned a powerful statement urging everyone to get a flu shot.
Amanda Bitz writes that we shouldn’t just get vaccinated to keep ourselves healthy. Instead, it’s “for the grandparents, whose bodies are not what they used to be, and they just can’t kick an illness in the butt like when they were young. For the 30 year old, with HIV or AIDS, who has a weakened immune system. For the 25-year-old mother of three who has cancer. She has absolutely zero immune system because of chemotherapy.”
Bitz goes on to build her case, citing heart-wrenching example after example, before concluding that everyone needs to do their part to keep others safe. “I have been in the room as a patient has passed away, because of influenza. I have watched patients struggle to breathe, because of influenza,” she writes. “Herd immunity is a thing. Influenza killing people is a thing. You getting the flu shot, should be a thing.”
As of Friday afternoon, the post had been shared more than 82,000 times and had more than 1,200 comments.
The flu can be deadly and cause serious illness, but vaccination rates remain low. Last season, 45.3% of adults 18 and older received flu vaccinations, according to the CDC. The rate was higher among children 6 months through 17 years: 62.6%.
A recent CDC study found that roughly two-thirds of pregnant women in the U.S. don’t get vaccinated against the flu — which puts them and their babies at risk. When pregnant women get the flu shot, it reduces their newborns’ risk of being hospitalized due to the virus by an average of 72%.
The agency recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get vaccinated — if their health allows — and says vaccination is especially important for people with a high risk for serious complications, including young kids, adults over the age of 65, people with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, and pregnant women.
Last year’s flu season lasted a whopping 21 weeks — the longest in a decade. But health officials aren’t sure how long this one will last or how bad it will be. Each flu season varies, but it usually starts in October, peaks between December and February, and lasts as late as May.
While flu activity is still low in the U.S., the CDC warns that Australia experienced an early start to its 2019 flu season and that, because influenza is unpredictable, circumstances can change very quickly.