It reached 80-something degrees this afternoon, and it’s a pretty safe bet — though not quite failsafe — that you won’t catch the flu today.
You won’t likely be able to say that in January or February, when some of the people around you feel as miserable as they look and who, whether they know it or not, are spreading armies of germs with every sneeze and every handshake.
Most of the folks who get sick, — flu sick, that is — in the winter are the ones who don’t get a flu shot. Maybe they decide they don’t need one. Maybe they’ve never gotten the flu before, or consider themselves tough enough to shake off any bug that comes around. There’s nothing like a nasty case of the flu to persuade them otherwise.
Maybe they don’t get vaccinated because they don’t think they have time or they believe that nonsense about getting the flu from a flu shot. Heck, maybe they like being sick — having a fever, a sore throat, a bad cough and the fatigue that comes with the flu. And maybe they don’t give much thought to the potential complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. The average annual death toll from the flu or its complications exceeds 30,000.
As uncomfortable as the flu is, protecting yourself from it — or at least sharply reducing your chances of getting it — is simple. Get a flu shot.
Get it this week or this month and be done with it. The Riley County Health Department offers flu shots all week but is encouraging residents to drop in on what it calls “Flu Shot Fridays,” when extra help will shorten the waits. This Friday is the first Flu Shot Friday. The Health Department will work with residents who can’t afford the cost, which runs from $27 to $46. Flu shots also are available at doctors’ offices and some grocery, department and drug stores.
No, the vaccine doesn’t come with an ironclad guarantee; you could still get the flu. But if you do, it’ll probably be a milder case than you otherwise would get. And you’ll be less likely to miss any days of work or school — or get your relatives, friends or co-workers sick.
The shots offer protection against the several strains of the influenza virus that researchers say are most likely to make the rounds this season. There’s plenty of supply nationally as well as locally; the Health Department alone has 3,500 doses. In fact, though flu season seems a long way off, it might arrive with a vengeance for folks who don’t get vaccinated.