Preventing the Flu
Have you ever found yourself wondering if the flu vaccine is actually worth getting? We’ve got the answer.
“Most people who contract the flu and are generally healthy and don’t need to go in to see a doctor or get medication, but certain high-risk groups can get very sick,” says Hoyt W. Frenzel, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., medical director of the Emergency Department at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. “The flu is a recurrent illness, meaning you can count on it happening every year. As flu vaccines have been proven to decrease risk of getting seriously ill or dying from the actual flu, I strongly recommend patients get vaccinated each year.”
Dr. Frenzel stands by his recommendation even during years such as the 2014–2015 flu season, when the particular vaccination released only reduced a person’s risk of having to see their doctor due to flu by 23 percent.
“Each time you get a flu vaccine, you’re getting immunized against multiple strains, because there are typically three in each vaccine,” Dr. Frenzel says. “There’s a cumulative effect, in a sense. If you’re exposed to the flu, it may not be the exact strain you were immunized against, but you may have been immunized against that strain during a past flu season and could still have some level of protection.”
Who Should Be Vaccinated?
High-risk groups Dr. Frenzel emphasizes should receive the flu vaccine each year include:
- Anyone over age 65
- Nursing home or chronic care facility residents
- Pregnant women, or women up to two weeks post-birth
- Anyone living with cancer or chronic conditions such as HIV, chronic renal disease, liver disease, diabetes, asthma or other underlying lung conditions
“Health care providers should also be vaccinated each year,” Dr. Frenzel says. “We’re the front line of care, no matter what type of facility, and we’re exposed to pretty much everything.”
Even outside of those high-risk groups, however, he stresses that being vaccinated against the flu annually is an important part of maintaining health.
“The vaccine is proven to be effective and very low-risk,” Dr. Frenzel adds. “You’re not going to get the flu virus from the shot, but it will keep you from getting sick if you are exposed to the virus.”
If you need a flu vaccination and don’t have a primary care physician, visit TexasHealth.org/FindaPhysician.
Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.