Use vaccines to eschew the flu

Chelsea Wells
Chelsea Wells

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention peg the cost to U.S. employers of absenteeism due to influenza at $77 million a  year.

Mesa County employers are no exception when it comes to facing the costs of absent employees. As of early January, Mesa County had 68 hospitalizations and one death from influenza. This figure doesn’t include the countless number of people who weren’t hospitalized, but were still sick enough to miss work.

Clearly, the flu costs money — and nobody likes being sick.

The most effective way to protect yourself from influenza is to get a flu shot. But too often we hear excuses from people who skip the annual vaccine. Let’s kick those excuses to the curb:

The flu shot will give me the flu. False. Wrong. Completely untrue. The flu shot won’t give you the flu. The virus in the vaccine has been inactivated, which means the virus is weakened to the point you won’t get the flu. However, there can be minor and short-term side effects from the vaccine. These short-term side effects include aches, low-grade fever and soreness where the shot was administered.

I don’t do shots. Problem solved. The flu vaccine is available in a nasal spray that’s just as effective as the injection. Most pharmacies, doctors’ offices and the Mesa County Health Department have the nasal mist available. Just like the flu shot, the mist won’t give you the flu.

It’s already January. I can make it without a flu shot. We’re only halfway through flu season. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, February has the highest rate of influenza. So you’re not too late. Head down to your pharmacy, doctor’s office or the Mesa County Health Department to get a vaccination.

This year’s vaccine isn’t a perfect match, so there’s no point in getting it. False. Some protection is better than none. Every year, health care professionals predict the strain of flu that will circulate the next flu season. This year, unfortunately, the vaccine is not perfect for the Type A strain circulating in the United States. The vaccine does protect you from some of the viruses, though.

I don’t have the time or money. The flu shot costs less time and money than coming down with the flu. If you do get sick, by the time you take off work, purchase over-the-counter medications and juggle life duties, the flu shot would have been a much more cost-effective option. Low-cost and free (billed to your insurance) vaccines are available throughout Mesa County. Take 20 minutes out of your day and get vaccinated.

I’ve never gotten a flu shot in the past, so I don’t need one now. Although you might have never gotten influenza, your luck can run out at any time. Plus, by getting the flu shot, you’re protecting your family, friends co-workers and community from the flu. Help your loved ones, if not yourself, by getting vaccinated.

So when you hear your family, friends and co-workers offer excuses for skipping the flu shot, encourage them to stop their excuses and get the vaccine. It will save money and time — not to mention body aches, fever and other miserable symptoms. As always, continue to reduce your risk for the flu by washing your hands, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, sanitizing surfaces and staying home when you are sick.

The Mesa County Health Department has flu vaccine. Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. Call 248-6900 for an appointment.