New Jersey has an emerging health problem: Not enough people are planning to vaccinate against the flu this winter.
Many of us think that the flu is not much more than fever, cold chills and a few days at home in bed, sipping chicken soup. This perception is wrong. Flu is much more serious than any cold and can be deadly, especially when you get older.
Last year, the United States experienced the consequences of this misconception – a record 80,000 deaths from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Additionally, adults continue to account for the majority of influenza-related deaths. It is estimated that 70 to 90 percent of seasonal influenza-related deaths occurred in recent years in people over 65 years of age.
This may sound scary, but there are good news. There is a simple and effective way to significantly reduce your chances of getting flu: the flu shot.
Even less than two-thirds of elderly people across the country are planning to be vaccinated, according to the observation of Clover Health rodents, and the results in New Jersey are particularly astonishing. The study found that in New Jersey, only 60% of older people plan to be vaccinated this season. We can do better, considering how easy and inexpensive it is to make a shot.
The findings of the flu monitor are also useful in understanding why so many adults choose to give up the vaccine. New Jersey interviewees, who told us they were not vaccinated, said they were concerned that the vaccine would make them sick (41%); they do not think this will be effective (37%); they think they do not need them or will not get the flu (35%).
Let's understand each of them:
First, flu vaccines can not cause flu. Scientists who make the vaccines use either inactivated (killed) viruses or a small amount of complete virus, which ensures that your body can build immunity without getting sick. Yes, a small percentage of people feel slow for a few days after shooting, but that's a small price you have to pay.
The most effective way to protect yourself from influenza is by launching it. Recent studies have shown that flu vaccination reduces the risk between 40 and 60%. Just because you feel healthy or have not got the flu for many years, there is no guarantee that you will get out of the virus this year.
Our survey results felt familiar, responding to what I heard from patients over the years as a doctor. Unfortunately, adults who are not vaccinated are not only at risk but also threaten their friends and family members, especially their young grandchildren.
As a community we must ensure that every senior in each neighborhood understands the serious threat of the influenza virus.
Although there are many myths about getting flu, the real danger is to get the disease. It is our duty that our friends, family and neighbors dispel these fables and encourage everyone to get vaccinated before the virus strikes.
Clover Health treats numerous communities that have had a flu epidemic. Through initiatives like "Monitor for Influenza", we are raising awareness and increasing access to a flu vaccine. Our voice alone can only travel until now. We need your help.
So, please, vaccinate, vaccinate your children, vaccinate your grandparents, drive a senior in a flu clinic, or suppress the fear of a senior person getting sick with a vaccine. At least share this story.
Dr. Kumar Darmamajan is a geriatric and cardiologist who serves as the senior research fellow for Detelina Health in Jersey City.