Should you get a flu shot and do you need one?

‘Should you get a flu shot and do you need one?’ was a post I wrote back in November 2016. A lot has happened since then but there is a good video here and some information that may help if we ever have to decide about a vaccine in the future.

So Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are both going for a shot at the title on November 8th but have they thought about whether they should go for a flu shot?

Clinton v Trump
Clinton v Trump (

80 – 90 % of flu related deaths are in the ‘over 65’ category. So, Trump at 70 and Clinton at 68, are both in an ‘at risk category’ of flu this year. Trump and Clinton have not divulged whether they have had the shot or not. I know they must be busy right now but they should make time to consider the options.

Who should get a flu shot?

National flu campaigns have begun. Every country has them. And that’s for a good reason. In the US, 200,000 are hospitalised because of the flu. Although the biggest at risk category is the over 65’s who have certain medical conditions, other groups of people are also at risk of the flu virus. People with chronic diseases like heart, kidney or liver disease, people with asthma or respiratory problems, diabetics and people with weakened immune systems e.g. AIDS and HIV, cancer patients, pregnant women and very young children.

Even if you are not in one of these groups, it is still advisable to think about having the flu shot or vaccine. Watch this video to see how the flu virus gets into our bodies and then what it does. Amazing!

With a winter epidemic forecast, it’s surprising that 1 in 10 people don’t think that they need the shot because they’ve never had flu before or think the vaccine will give you the flu. It is encouraging to see the uptake of flu shots increasing year after year as more people have a better understanding of how the virus works and what the vaccine does. Ultimately, this means less disease is spread through our community.

So how does the vaccine work?

The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body. This takes about 2 weeks. They help to fight the virus alongside our bodies immune system – the white blood cells.

White blood cells attacking flu virus - Cell Wars 2
White blood cells attacking flu virus – Cell Wars 2

Why should you get a flu shot?

I talked in an earlier post about this being a community issue not an individual one. With better education comes better understanding and better health. Other people who are at risk are those who care for the elderly or disabled and those who are at the frontline of health and social care. Even teachers are at risk. You may not need the vaccine and may not carry the disease into contact with the public but, you also may not know that you have the symptoms. Spreading this disease around causes not only deaths but loss of income for individuals, businesses and economies. According to the Co-operative Group survey in 2010, flu accounted for 7.6 million lost working days in the UK, costing the British economy £1.35 billion. One reason why many more employers are offering flu vaccinations for all.

Today we are all more focused on looking after our bodies and we go to great lengths to keep ourselves healthy. We vaccinate our children for childhood illnesses. We vaccinate when we go abroad to different countries but we are still distrustful of the flu vaccine. 

It doesn’t help the cause when the flu virus has already mutated and the vaccine doesn’t work as effectively as it should, as happened last year. But this vaccine does not give you the flu, is free to ‘at risk’ categories and could help the symptoms to be less severe (it’s not 100% proof). It doesn’t kill you yet not having it, if in a risk group, could. So Clinton and Trump, take your best shot!


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