Reasons Why You Need to Get a Flu Shot

There are many reasons to get a flu shot, but in my opinion, the number one reason is that it can save your life.  The flu is no joke. The flu can kill, and it can kill fast. It has killed millions over the years and will kill millions more.  I learned this the hard way in my younger days as a trauma and general surgeon when a friend of mine went through the unimaginable.

A 40-something woman, totally healthy who plays tennis 3 to 5 times a week and is in top physical condition gets a bad case of the flu and her immune system gets crushed. She and her husband lie in bed together joking about how miserable they are. She basically uses up all her natural "bullets" fighting off the virus when along comes a sneaky bacterial infection. Because she is already weakened, a bacterial "superinfection" sets in and a day later she is in the emergency room.

A day after that she is intubated and vented (put on life support). Shortly after, she leaves behind a loving husband and beautiful daughter who both wonder what the hell just happened and why.

So, no, you don't "need" a flu shot. You can roll the dice, but know that tragedies like this do happen.

People always argue that you can still get sick even if you have had a flu shot, so what’s the point? While they’re not wrong, it’s important to know that flu shots can help decrease the severity of the flu, often cutting your down time in half. Do you like making money or saving your sick days? Get a flu shot.

And if downtime from an illness doesn’t bother you, think about the people around you. Be an altruist. "Herd-immunity" helps decrease the spread of the flu to others. The more people that are vaccinated against the flu, the less likely it is to spread to others.

The holiday season is right around the corner which means spending time with parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins, nephews, and nieces, all of whom might be of various ages and health conditions. We were taught in medical school that the flu mainly attacks the "extremes of age", like the very young, (whose immune systems have yet to fully develop) and the very old, (whose immune system are waning). Protecting yourself means protecting the people around you.

Something I hear frequently in my Chicago clinic from skeptics is “I’ve heard the flu has nasty side effects.” The side effects are actually very few. And if people do experience them, they are usually mild and can include a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and mild headache. Basically a mini-flu. The vaccination does cause a mild reaction in some people, but that's just your immune system reacting to an invader, so when the real deal shows up, your body is ready to do battle and fight it off. It seems like a small price to pay when you look at the bigger picture.

I’ve also talked with many patients who don’t understand why or even know they need a new vaccination every year. The flu shot pinpoints protection. It is specifically designed each year based on the projected strains of the virus that will most likely show up. Although the percentages are not exact, the flu shot usually reduces your risk of getting the flu by 60 to 70 percent. Get this year's version early and your body will have a better chance of fighting off what comes your way.

I have witnessed first-hand the severity of the flu virus. At my hydration clinic in Chicago, IVme Wellness + Performance, I see a spike in patients every year during flu season. These people are coming in for fluids to get some relief from their flu symptoms. While an IV clinic might be cheaper and less crowded than an ER, I’d suggest you nip it in the bud. While I’d be happy to treat you, I’m a bigger proponent of public health and safety and urge you to take preventative measures and get that flu shot early.

Dr. Jack Dybis, DO, is a trauma and general surgeon, he is also the founder of IVme Wellness + Performance in Chicago. 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.