I know some people will disagree with me on this issue, but I am a huge proponent of vaccines. I've always received my vaccines, because Glenn is active duty he always receives his (I wish all employers could make their employees receive them), and Sidney has received his on schedule. Granted, it is never pleasant to get stuck by a needle and holding a squirming child who is being pricked is far from my favorite experience, but in my opinion, the brief amount of pain far outweighs the alternative risks. It amazes me that, thanks to today's modern medicine, many childhood (and adult) diseases that killed or permanently disabled hundreds of thousands of people less than a century ago have all but been eliminated. And this is due in large part to the evolving science that is making so many medical advancements possible. I had my share of childhood sicknesses and diseases but thanks to current vaccinations, my own son won't have to endure the severe outbreak of chicken pox or other bump inducing rashes that I suffered as a child. But as the measles outbreak in Texas and the recent resurgence of polio in Syria attests to, just because outbreaks have dramatically decreased, it is still vitally important to get all of your vaccinations. As these outbreaks demonstrate, in today's rapidly moving and transitory world, not getting vaccinated puts the entire globe at risk.
And speaking of vaccines, with flu season upon us, it is important to get your flu shot. So why get vaccinated, you ask? Here's a few facts courtesy of our awesome Embassy health unit:
- The flu, or influenza, is a contagious viral infection that affects the upper respiratory system and can last for up to two weeks in healthy adults.
- The flu is easily spread with most healthy adults able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
The financial impact of the flu is bigger than I ever imagined:
- A CDC study found that parents of kids who got the flu lost between 7 and 19 hours of work during the illness and if the sick child was hospitalized, the number jumped to over 70 hours.
- 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications each year.
- $87.1 billion is lost from the U.S. economy annually because of the flu and its repercussions.
- $16.3 billion is the annual toll on businesses due to the flu.
- 70 million workdays were missed by Americans in 2011 because of the flu.
I've heard many people say they won't bother getting the vaccine for a variety of reasons. And contrary to some statements, deadly epidemics like the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, are not a problem of the past. There are probably very few adults alive today who don't remember the recent avian and swine flu outbreaks. As someone who was pregnant during the swine flu epidemic, I made sure I received vaccines for both the regular and swine flu. My child and myself remained flu free that year. Was it because of the vaccine? Maybe or maybe not. What I do know is that neither of us got sick and that is what really matters. So why take the risk by not getting vaccinated? You owe it to yourself, your family, and your community.
Sidney and I are getting our shots this afternoon and Glenn will get his later this week. When will you get yours?
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