Based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than half of American adults receive a flu vaccine each year. If you’ve skipped your flu shot in the past, here are five reasons to make it a priority this season.
The flu is much more serious than the common cold.
The 2017-2018 high-severity flu season caused record-breaking illnesses and hospitalization rates. On average, over 200,000 flu-infected people are hospitalized in the US each year, states the CDC, and annual fatalities range from 3,000 to 49,000. Some people have a higher risk of developing severe complications from the flu. Be sure to get a vaccination this year if you:
- Have asthma, COPD, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer.
- Have heart disease or have experienced a stroke.
- Are 65 years or older.
- Are pregnant.
Last year’s flu shot won’t help this year.
Some vaccinations last for years before they need a booster, but flu shots are different. Influenza viruses come in many different strains and change from year to year. This is why doctors recommend getting a flu shot each fall to protect against infection in the coming flu season.
A flu shot is the most effective way to avoid getting sick.
While you can take other preventative measures – such as washing your hands often, disinfecting surfaces in your home, avoiding contact with sick people and not touching your face with your hands – getting a flu shot is the single best way to avoid getting sick. The CDC estimates that you’re 60 percent less likely to contract the flu if you get vaccinated. Just remember, this varies depending on the effectiveness of the vaccine against that season’s flu strain.
You can’t get the flu from a flu vaccine.
There’s a misconception that receiving a flu shot can make you sick, but this is impossible because the vaccination delivers inactivated viruses incapable of infecting a person. However, the process of producing protective antibodies may make you experience muscle aches and a fever for a day or two, which is highly preferred over actually getting the flu.
Also, be aware that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take full effect. If you’re exposed to the virus before then, you may still catch the flu. It’s also possible for a vaccine to mismatch the viruses circulating that season, reducing its effectiveness.
Most insurance plans cover the cost of flu shots.
Preventative care, including vaccinations, are covered by most health insurance plans.
To qualify for coverage, some require you to receive the shot from an in-network provider. As long as you meet the requirements of your plan, you can expect flu shots for your family to be very affordable.
Flu shots for the upcoming season become available in October. Get yours as early as possible to maximize your protection against the influenza virus. Contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia at 678-999-8263 to schedule flu shots for your whole family.
Some diseases carry a social stigma, causing society to judge or condemn people with certain conditions, perhaps none more strongly than sexually transmitted diseases. Sometimes, the shame is aimed directly at the infected individual through name-calling, shunning, or intimate partner violence. Other times, STD stigma is more general, such as when someone makes a joke about Chlamydia or equates having herpes to being immoral.
Regardless of how it’s enacted, STD stigma can be very hurtful. And the truth is there’s no logical reason to shame someone with this disease. It’s counterproductive and serves no helpful purpose. Here’s why everyone should work together to de-stigmatize STDs.
STDs are Surprisingly Common
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 million new Americans are diagnosed with an STD every year. Keep in mind that these are the tested and documented cases, excluding HPV/genital warts and herpes, which are not required to be reported to the CDC.
According to the American Sexual Health Association, half of sexually active Americans contract an STD by age 25. Then, more than half of all sexually active people will contract HPV in their lifetime – and most will never know it. Because of this, many undocumented cases exist, putting the estimate of Americans with STDs somewhere between 56 and 65 million.
STDs and Promiscuity Aren’t Synonymous
It only takes one sexual partner to contract an STD – and sometimes it takes none at all! STDs are transmitted through more than just direct genital contact – you can also get infected from blood and sometimes saliva. Sharing towels or underwear, using someone else’s needle or razor, or having a blood transfusion can spread some STIs and STDs. Then, simply kissing or sharing the same straw can spread genital and oral herpes.
STD Testing is Important
Despite the high probability of contracting an STD, only about 12 percent of people age 15 to 25 are tested each year. Fear of the stigma associated with a positive result is the primary reason many people decide they would rather not know their status.
However, if left untreated, some STDs can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirth and increased risk for HIV. With STDs at record-level highs, it’s more important than ever for sexually active people to know their STD status so they can receive treatment and help prevent spreading the disease.
Do Your Part to Help Eradicate STD Stigma
Pay attention to the way you talk about STDs, and think of people with this condition as a group facing discrimination. Don’t use metaphors like “dirty” or “damaged goods” to describe people with STDs. Become more educated about sex and the risks that come with it. And if you think you might have an STD, get tested!
Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia offers discrete, anonymous STD testing so you can find out your status while maintaining your privacy. After all, it’s your decision who you tell about your diagnosis. To learn more about our testing process, or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 678-999-8263.
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