Written By: Rudi Lamy, MLS, MAS, Consultant to the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging

As you likely know, the flu is a serious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Its symptoms can range from mild to severe, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

To help decrease our risk of experiencing this highly contagious and less-than-pleasant seasonal illness, we must all do our part to ensure that we get a flu vaccine each year.

So, my good readers, yesterday, the wife and I headed to our local pharmacy, where we received our annual flu shots. If you are not already convinced, know that there are a number of good reasons to consider getting yourself vaccinated today.

Reduce Your Risk to Help Others

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, “Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.”

The site continues, “Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. CDC estimates that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000. During flu season, flu viruses circulate at higher levels in the U.S. population. (“Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.) An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.”

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I’m a real needle weenie. I whine, babble, carry on, and get tense at just the thought of getting a shot. My wife is, of course, a real trooper.

I mention this because there are different reasons for patients to get the flu shot. I am under doctor’s orders to get the shot every year. Why? Well, you may recall that in an earlier posting, I mentioned that I’m both a diabetes and Crohn’s disease patient. My immune system is compromised, so no giving blood and no shingles vaccine, but, every year, Rudi gets his flu shot.

My wife, you may also recall, is a patient with dementia. Now, after talking to doctors and pharmacists and searching online, I’ve found no credible evidence linking flu shots to dementia. But, as those of us who are caregivers for patients with dementia know, when our loved ones become ill, it will almost always play havoc with their memory, stability, and reality.

Honestly, it does not matter if someone is immunocompromised as I am, a patient with dementia like my wife, or simply elderly, we should all know by now that our loved ones, and ourselves, are better off receiving a flu shot.

If you’d like additional information about how to stay healthy during cold and flu season, you may want to review this article from the School of Pharmacy.

One last thought, and it’s on a strictly personal note — Happy Anniversary, Toni. We were married in the Court House in Ellicott City on Nov. 1, 1991. It’s been a great 26 years.

Thanks for reading,

Rudi Lamy

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