5 reasons to get your flu shot

autoimmune disorder flu rheumatoid arthritis rheumatoid disease rheumatoid treatment

syringe and vial of flu vaccine against a blue background

Flu season runs from October to May. If you haven't had your flu shot yet, here are five good reasons to go and get it.

Remember to check with your rheumatologist before getting vaccinations. Some people may not be able to take flu shots, and other people need to time their flu shot around rheumatoid medications.  

1. It can keep you from getting sick with flu

Flu is miserable. It involves fever, muscle aches, sore throats and a runny nose. Even with medications like Tamiflu, it's still not fun.

People with rheumtoid disease have immune systems that don't work as they should, and often take drugs which suppress our immune systems. This makes us more vulnerable to flu.

Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during 2017 -2018
 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.2 million influenza illnesses, 3.2 million influenza-associated medical visits, 91,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 5,700 influenza-associated deaths.

2. Reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) risk for the wider population

Your flu shot won't protect you from coronavirus, but it can help hospitals better respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Fewer flu patients = more medical resources for coronavirus patients.

One piece of good news: it is very rare for someone to catch both the flu and COVID-19 at once. If you have one it's unlikely you will get the other one at the same time. 

3. The shot takes time to work

It can take up to two weeks for your flu shot to become effective.

This is because your body needs time to build antibodies to the vaccine. It is these antibodies that protect you. The sooner you get your shot the sooner you are protected.

4. The flu shot changes each year

There are different strains of flu each year, so the vaccine contains the ones that are most likely to occur. Even if you had one last year, it's important to get one this year too. 

5. You are helping to protect vulnerable people

Herd immunity means that if we all get immunizations, we can’t spread the virus elsewhere, so we’re all protected from it.

The more people get their flu shot, the lower the risk for pregnant women, the elderly, children and anyone with an underlying health condition.

Source: Centres of Disease Control and Prevention

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