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VIDEO

Why Everyone Needs a Flu Shot

JAN 21, 2020 | CONTAGION® EDITORIAL STAFF

Segment Description: Jason Gallagher, PharmD, FCCP, FIDSA, BCPS, clinical professor at Temple University College of Pharmacy and editor-in-chief of Contagion®, explains why everyone needs a flu shot and addresses skepticism toward the vaccine.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

Gallagher: Everyone needs a flu shot and they need it every year. It's a shame that that's the case. It'd be nice if we had a better vaccine, but even our fairly mediocre vaccine that we have decreases infections and even more than that it decreases complications, from the flu. I think something that gets lost in the narrative is that while the flu shot prevents a percentage of infections, and some people will go and develop the flu anyway, even if they do, there's some evidence that it's attenuated, and that the complications from having the flu including death are lessened even if someone develops flu after they've gotten a shot. 

So it's not perfect, someone may still develop influenza, though their risk of that goes down significantly, but it's better at preventing complications, at least there's some evidence for this, then it is at preventing actual influenza. And the proportion of the population that the develops influenza every year is crazy. I mean, it's 5, 10 percent of the population, sometimes more than that, every year. And I think people have skepticism towards that vaccine for a couple reasons. It's far from perfect, it is safe, but it's only moderately effective. And obviously people develop symptoms of viral illnesses even after they've gotten it. Some people think that's the flu because a lot of people just don't know what the flu is, even terms that we use, like stomach flu, which is not a thing. We have the bacteria, Haemophilus influenzae, which was thought to be the cause of influenza back in earlier epidemics before the viral cause was actually found. So there's so much even our language that I think teaches people that flu is not is not the serious threat that it actually is.

For more coverage of the 2019-2020 flu season, see our 2020 influenza news update here.
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