For most people, the flu is a minor annoyance, something they fight through for a couple of days once or twice a year. For others, the flu can be more serious, maybe even resulting in a hospital stay. For thousands of Americans each year, the flu is lethal.
But nearly everyone can lessen their chances of contracting the flu with one simple action–getting a flu shot.
Recent studies show that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the flu by 50 to 60% among the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recommends that everybody 6 months or older get vaccinated. It’s especially important for those that are the most vulnerable to severe cases of the flu–children and seniors.
A recent study showed the number of annual deaths varied between 3,000 and 49,000 per year. And 80 to 90% of flu-related deaths occurred in people 65 or older. A 2016 study showed that people age 50 or older cut their chances of being hospitalized by the flu by 57 percent.
The vaccine has shown to have similarly dramatic impact on children. A 2014 study showed that the flu vaccine reduced the risk of admission due to a pediatric intensive care unit by 74%.
By lowering your chances of contracting the flu, the vaccination also helps protect those around you by lowering their chances of being exposed to the virus. There is also evidence that if you do get the flu, the vaccination could lessen the severity of your symptoms.