Is it your civic duty to get a flu shot? | The Tylt
Is it your civic duty to get a flu shot?
The CDC recommends getting a flu shot before the end of October, and if you live with your family, have a roommate, work with other people, or go out in public at all, it's your duty to get a flu shot. The 2017-2018 flu season topped the last four decades in the total death toll: 80,000 people died, 180 of which were children.
The flu is not a severe version of the common cold, and it's not something that time and a few meds will heal. Depending on your health circumstances, the flu could easily be fatal. Regardless of whether or not you view yourself as susceptible, it's undeniable that someone around you is. Therefore, it is a shared burden for everyone to get the flu shot.
CNN's Susan Scutti spoke with US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams on the topic:
Adams said that getting the flu shot by the end of October is not just about keeping yourself safe and healthy, it's also about community. It's your 'social responsibility to get vaccinated,' he said, since it protects others around you, including family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.
Every year, the world sees a new flu strain, which means the flu vaccine itself changes along with it. According to TIME's Richard Webby:
It’s a game of cat and mouse trying to chase the newest strain. That’s why flu vaccines also change each year. As part of a team that comes up with the vaccine for the season, I am the first to acknowledge that we don’t always get the vaccine exactly right.
There are antivirals that treat the flu, should you actually get it. Plus, if doctors are off-base with their flu vaccine for the year, getting a flu shot might not prevent you or the people around you from contracting the disease at all. Counting on the flu shot is somewhat of a gamble, and it cannot be argued as a civic duty for that reason.
The flu is incredibly contagious, and you can spread it to other people before you're even aware it is in your system. Kids under the age of five and adults over the age of 65 are most susceptible to the flu. Prolonged health is a privilege, and getting a flu shot is one of the few things everyone can do to help spread that privilege around.
Regardless of how accurate the flu shot is for the year, the vaccination still limits the number of flu-related hospitalizations. Refusing to get the shot based off of presumed inaccuracy of the people developing the vaccine reflects a reckless lack of trust in the doctors and organizations whose main goal is to "do no harm." According to the CDC:
...during 2016-2017, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.
...preventing a flu outbreak isn’t just the responsibility of scientists and immunologists. The other half of the equation is the public’s civic duty to help protect one another by getting the flu vaccination even if you don’t think you need it.
Getting the flu shot isn’t just about protecting your health. Vaccinations are also about protecting others.
One's health is his or her own personal business. There are many reasons why people do get the flu shot, and why they do not. With the flu, there is no perfect answer. There are other ways to stay healthy for the sake of people around you other than succumbing to the flu shot: wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and don't cough in your co-worker's face.
No one should be forced by society to seek treatment they do not want, including the flu shot.