Which Flu Should I Worry About?

According to a recent Gallop poll, 22% of Americans are worried about getting the Ebola virus, matching or exceeding the amount of adults who were worried about 2009’s higher risk virus, the H1N1 outbreak. Yet, each year, between 5 and 20 percent of adults get influenza. Of this percentage, 20,000 people die domestically while 500,000 die worldwide. So, why is it that so many people fail to get a simple flu shot? If any deadly flu should be on your mind, it should be influenza, not Ebola. Yes, the thought of getting Ebola is downright terrifying but it should not be your biggest concern.  There are a lot of myths about the flu vaccine; a big one being that the shot actually gives you the flu afterwards. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection invalidate this rumor by explaining the flu vaccine viruses have been ‘inactivated’ or are nonexistent. In layman’s terms, it won’t give you the flu. If you’re somebody who loathes needles, there’s a nasal spray alternative instead. This year there will be 151 million to 156 million doses of the vaccine available to the American public, making any reason not to locate a clinic, ridiculous.

Maybe the prevalence of the flu blinds us from seeing it’s real danger.

We’ve all had the flu a dozen times throughout our lives and have survived. What could possibly make us fear influenza if we always beat it? It’s difficult to believe this mode of thinking when statistics show that every year people are sent to the hospital because of influenza. With flu season quickly approaching, the first step to a healthy rest of the year is to find out where the flu shot is available and get it. Second, be diligent about washing your hands, especially after being in public places. Stocking up on products with loads of Vitamin C will help you battle the flu before you even get it.  Also, eating a lot of vegetables and fruits will help your immune system defend itself. And, the most obvious and important one, cover your mouth with your arm (not hand) while coughing or sneezing as influenza is airborne. There’s nothing comforting about going to the mall and wading through a crowd full of sick people knowing perfectly well that you’re touching everything they have. Do yourself a favor, and keep some hand sanitizer handy. There’s no need to lock yourself in the house, but be aware that germs will be aplenty in any store. Taking small steps like wiping down the shopping cart will help ease your mind, and, in the end, your immune system will thank you.

As the biggest advocate for your own health and as a being that wants survive, it is perfectly normal for one to fear disease. The Ebola virus is real and it is scary. The amount of media coverage tends to blow the likelihood of you getting the disease out of proportion. Seeing it covered on every news channel makes it hard to ignore. Despite this, the influenza virus will likely reach you before Ebola will.  So, be proactive about getting the flu shot this season. Paired with practicing good hygiene, you may be able to skip out on this season’s flu blues.

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