OPINION COLUMNS

Do as I say, not as I do – get a flu shot

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, January 13, 2018
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Last week driving home from work I felt noticeably more tired than normal. While the gorgeous scenery along U.S. Highway 380 from Decatur to Denton is usually enough to keep me wide awake, this drive had a much different feel to it.

By the time I got home and got out of my car, I knew something was awry. My eyes were heavy, my head was congested and I was sweating. I stumbled into the house and tried to sleep it off, but to no avail.

Reece Waddell

Within a few hours, I was coughing, had a sore throat and sported a fever of 102. Then came the body chills and body aches.

To my mom, who works in microbiology, I’m sorry you have to read this next part. I have a confession to make – I didn’t get my flu shot this year.

Despite getting them routinely as a kid throughout high school, I’ve been admittedly negligent about getting vaccinated since I’ve been off at college. Chalk it up to being lazy or inadequate funds, but this year, there was really no excuse.

I thought I was invincible, and that the flu bug could never get to me. And let me tell you, I was wrong.

The CDC recommends everyone six months or older should get a flu vaccine every year. While there’s been some talk this season about the vaccine not being as effective as in year’s past, it’s still an investment worth making.

Essentially, the CDC must guess every year what strain will be the “circulating” virus. Sometimes they hit the nail on the head – and sometimes there are multiple circulating viruses, leading to a decrease in the vaccine’s effectiveness.

But even if the vaccine – like this year’s – isn’t what they consider a “good match”, the shot still provides protection. Antibodies in the vaccination can sometimes guard against related viruses. The CDC also says it’s important to remember that each vaccine is designed to protect against “three or four” different viruses.

So no, the flu vaccine does not provide guaranteed protection against the flu. It is, however, a cheap insurance policy (no pun intended) that will likely make your symptoms milder in the event you contract it.

Consider this: the average flu shot costs between $30-40 without insurance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, flu and other vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a copayment or coinsurance.

Alternatively, a five-day regiment of Tamiflu without insurance runs on average $100, according to Consumer Reports. Add that to the cost of visiting your doctor, and you’re left with a bill far greater than what the vaccine itself would have cost.

The fact of the matter is this. If you have insurance, the flu vaccine is free protection. Why would you not take it?

Unless of course you’re me, and just enjoy spending four days in bed chugging Gatorade and popping Tylenol like they’re candy.

Reece Waddell is the sports editor of the Messenger, and along with wishing he got his flu shot, spent most of his last paycheck at the local pharmacy.

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