Why Are People Turning Down Flu Shots?

Michele Warg
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Some people cannot get flu shots because they have compromised immune systems, making it even more important for healthy people to get vaccinated. Medical experts know flu shots improve herd immunity and lessen the risk of a serious outbreak, but many myths prevent people from getting this shot. Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals must work together to educate patients about the importance of getting their flu shots and staying healthy.

People who prefer natural remedies may avoid the flu shot in favor of vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Although vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc do help the immune system function properly, they do not prevent influenza from spreading. Elderberry extract prevents viruses from replicating and entering healthy cells, but people without naturopathic training may not use the extract properly. You must counsel patients about the importance of flu shots in preventing disease and protecting weaker members of the community. If your patients avoid their flu shots because they are afraid of needles, consider offering the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine.

Some people avoid flu shots because they believe they should let their immune systems fight the virus. Unfortunately, immunity to the flu does not last forever. If someone fights off the flu one year, there is no guarantee of not catching the virus again the following year. The flu virus also mutates from year to year, so any residual immunity may not be enough to help a person fight the disease. Some of your patients may even believe vaccines cause autism. Although no link between vaccines and autism has been found, ordering thimerosal-free vaccinations for your facility may help put people at ease.

One of the biggest reasons people do not get flu shots is they don't understand how serious the flu can be. Healthy adults are usually able to fight the disease, but elderly people, children, and people with chronic illnesses may be more susceptible to the virus. Getting vaccinated does not protect just the person receiving the shot; it also protects those who are susceptible to the flu. If you run a pediatric healthcare clinic or private practice, make sure parents know they should keep their infants away from anyone who has not been vaccinated. Advise anyone who cares for an elderly family member to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Getting vaccinated against the flu and other serious illnesses is an important part of staying healthy. If your patients are refusing to get flu shots, ask what is keeping them from getting vaccinated. For something as simple as a fear of needles, you can use alternative ways to deliver the vaccine. If a patient believes the flu vaccine is dangerous or unnecessary, be sure to talk about the importance of getting vaccinated. Educating patients about the flu is one of the best ways to ensure people get their flu shots.



(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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