I have heard more than one person–including my vigorous, picture-of-health 78-year-old Greek stepfather–tell this story: they have never gotten a flu shot and they have never caught the flu. Until the one year they did get the flu shot. And guess what happened? They came down with the flu. (One of our readers, who posted a comment to this article on Wednesday, wrote about this phenomenon.)
I don’t think I ever got a flu shot until I was pregnant with my first child more than six years ago. I never came down with the flu before that time or after, when I began getting the shot every year. I do it now because I have young children, but I’ve often wondered whether it’s necessary (the kids, of course, are immunized every year).
This year, I’m glad I did get the vaccine. According to a report by the New Jersey Department of Health, the entire state is experiencing a high level of influenza activity (that was enough to prompt nj.com to create a clever hastag on Twitter, #flujersey). NJ Spotlight has this cool map breaking it down county by county–Essex County is a mere “miserable” compared to other counties that are “very miserable.” That basically mirrors that of the rest of the country, where the CDC reports that 49 out of 54 jurisdictions reported elevated levels of influenza cases earlier this month.
Flu season usually peaks in late January/early February, but this year it hit early. Maybe that explains why it was so hard for me to find a place to get a flu shot. I went to the CVS on Valley Road last Friday, only to be told that they had run out of the vaccine and to come back on Monday.
When I returned (on Tuesday), it still wasn’t there. They finally got it on Wednesday, and I got my shot that afternoon. I was lucky; shortly after I filled out the paperwork, they ran out again.
This year’s flu vaccine is said to be “a very good match” for the various strains that are now making their way through the state. So if you haven’t gotten your shot yet, it might be a good idea to get one—if there are any left. And if you never get a flu shot, and never get sick, tell us: what’s your secret?
Photo from Wikipedia