As we get older, our immune system gets worse and our youth and strength that defended us against disease-causing micro-organisms begin to fail us. This is a natural process, part of getting old and should be of no surprise. However, this doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do to try stopping it or at least slow down the process. The researchers and primary care doctors around the world have been trying for years to understand the complexity of the immune system and, while there is huge progress, the universal solution for battling the flu still hasn’t been found.
The flu season is coming – prepare yourself
However, health care is moving forward constantly in every area, so today we have online medical consultation, walk-in clinics and, thanks to technology, you’ll know how to find a good general practitioner in no time. When it comes to the immune system, there are several pieces of advice one can accept and introduce them in their everyday life habits, without jeopardizing anything. Any good family doctor will tell you to lead a healthy lifestyle, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, try getting enough sleep and minimize stress. But the reality is that even if we try, these habits are very difficult to accept completely and maintain. This is why scientists and experts in health care advice, as an addition to protecting our immune systems, taking flu vaccines.
What stats say?
For almost a century now, vaccination against influenza is still considered the most effective solution against the flu. In the modern patient care and by The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC, it is recommended, because it reduces the odds of getting the flu by about 60%. The percentage of effectiveness shouldn’t deter you from taking the vaccine – on the contrary, research shows that even in cases where it doesn’t prevent the flu, it can still reduce the risk of serious side effects. This is especially significant with groups that are naturally at higher risk of catching the flu, such as people over 65. In fact, studies show that for those not living in a care facility, the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of hospitalization by 30% to 70%.
It’s not just about you, primary care physicians say
If the stats are not convincing enough for you, take this into account – influenza vaccination is not just about protecting yourself against acute infection, but also from ongoing complications if you do fall ill. Secondly, it’s not just about you. Ask any good family doctor in Amsterdam – getting the flu vaccine, even if it’s imperfect, helps keep both you and your community healthy and safe. In fact, PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States) reports that even if a vaccine is only 20 percent effective, it would still prevent 20 million infections, 129,000 hospitalizations and 61,000 deaths compared to not getting it – which is a tough argument to beat.
Finally, however nice and professional, no one likes making online doctor consultation or visiting your primary care doctor, but getting the flu can spoil lots of fun events or even make you skip work. Think of it as a quick and safe investment every season.