As though influenza by itself isn’t bad enough, a new study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine details an increased risk of heart attack in the week following diagnosis of flu. This is but one mechanism that leads to over 30,000 deaths per year, in the US alone, due to flu. This year, a particularly nasty form of influenza is expected to take more than 50,000 American lives. Unfortunately some of those people did get a flu shot–which doesn’t guarantee protection, but is the best chance any of us have to prevent this life altering, and sometimes life-ending infection. There is no question that an annual shot reduces illness and death from flu. Despite my professional career working with the sickest of flu patients, I have not had the flu during the 30+ years I’ve had the shot.
Get your shot. Every year. Since it takes 2-3 weeks for the shot to become effective, and flu season lasts through at least March, it’s still not too late.