September 4, 2017 | Categories: Health
If you plan to skip your annual flu shot vaccine because you “never get the flu anyway,” think it’ll give you the flu, or, you don’t want to spend money, that health decision could put you and your loved ones at serious risk. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, the flu and influenza were the tenth leading cause of death amongst Latinos in America. “The message to me with this stat is that the flu and pneumonia kills,” says Leonor Osorio, DO, a first generation American of Bolivian descent, who practices internal medicine physician at the Lutheran Hospital Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. “We already have a disproportionate amount of Latinos with diabetes and asthma and that’s the population for whom the side effects are deadly,” she says. The flu shot is the most important vaccine you can get as an adult. Get more information about the 2017-2018 flu season on the Centers for Disease Control website.
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Part of the reasons some Latinas don’t get the flu shot is that they feel it’s not a necessity, says Dr. Osorio. You might think that if they feel fine you don’t need to be vaccinated. “As women, we tend to be the caretakers in our families and can be carriers of the flu vaccine even if we don’t have symptoms or get sick,” she says. You can pass flu germs on to your partner, children, or other family members, and if they have diabetes or asthma, the flu might send them to the hospital.
Many Latinas may think there’s no access for getting this vaccine or that it’s costly, says Dr. Osorio. It’s almost always covered by insurance and if you don’t have health insurance, it should be less than $40 at your local pharmacy. Many primary care doctors will allow you to get the shot without an appointment, and you can even do it on your lunch break or while shopping at a Walmart or Target if they have an on-site pharmacy, like CVS. Es tan fácil!
There’s a misconception out there that getting the flu shot will give you the flu or cause you to get sick, and Latinas might believe this to be true. “It’s a huge myth!” says Dr. Osorio. You might get a little low-grade fever and chills after the vaccination, but you can take a Tylenol, and it’s not a reason to skip the flu shot, she says. Get your vaccination before flu season starts since it takes about two weeks to build immunity. If you have travel plans in the winter months, it’s especially important to protect yourself beforehand with this shot.
If you get the flu vaccination and still come down with the flu, you’ll recover quicker, says Dr. Osorio. Hopefully, you’ll be even less likely to go to the hospital with the flu and you’ll miss fewer days from work. Discover the most important health tests and health screenings for women.
This article first appeared in the October 2015 issue of Latina magazine. Read the published article.
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