Prices of flu shots in“flu”ence number of recipients

Jacob Fitzgerald, Contributor

SPEARFISH, S.D. (Jacket Journal) – Nobody wants to be sick during the holidays. High fever, shivers, sweats and a cough? Definitely not ideal.

With the flu season among us, millions of Americans have been taking advantage of influenza vaccinations. Many pharmacies, clinics, hospitals and schools have been administering free flu shots to anyone that wishes to be vaccinated.

Having the opportunity to be vaccinated for free is one that should not be taken for granted. Flu shots greatly reduce one’s chance of contracting the flu virus. Because the flu can cause severe symptoms and can even be deadly on occasion, Americans should strongly consider getting vaccinated.

Black Hills State University Certified Nurse Practitioner Kerry Greear has had 38 years of experience in the nursing field. Greear strongly recommends being vaccinated because after just one shot, one’s chances of contracting the virus lowers by 50 percent. If a person gets the shot every year, this immunity will gradually grow.

Greear said that, because thousands of people’s lives end every year as a result of the flu, there should be no reason why children and adults everywhere should not take advantage of vaccinations.

Spearfish resident Mary McKay admitted that 2019 was her first year getting vaccinated. Both she and her mother had never been sick with the flu and therefore never felt the need to receive a flu shot. McKay had a wakeup call after visiting her flu-ridden mother over the previous holiday season.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the 2017-2018 season saw a high of up to 49 million people go down with confirmed cases of influenza. As many as 959 thousand hospitalizations occurred and 80 thousand deaths from influenza were reported.

With just a simple vaccine, families could have saved thousands of dollars in medical bills and missed less school and work if they had taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to them.   

Not every U.S. citizen gets their annual flu shot.

One Pennington County resident, Kaid Oien, has not received his flu shot this season.  He said that although he realizes the importance of receiving his vaccination, he has not gotten sick since he was 4 years old and just does not feel motivated to get one.

It may be true that some people who had not received the flu vaccine were spared of contracting the flu. However, this does not change the fact that people who refuse to get vaccinated have a high risk of being infected.

It is very common for college students to get sick after leaving school and returning home for Winter Break due to lingering stress and sleep-deprivation as a result of finals week, factors which greatly weaken their immune systems. Because of this, Greear encourages students to receive their flu shot around Halloween. If they do so, the effects of the vaccine will last through March.

When people get sick during the holidays, they often become isolated from relatives and friends. Life is too short to get sick with the influenza virus. Many people have better things to do in life than to feel miserable.

Vaccinations can come with a huge price tag which can make it difficult to afford for people with low incomes. However, the easiest way to navigate where to get a free or discounted flu shot is to call the 211 Helpline, which can locate free vaccinations in the desired area.

Greear says that the flu vaccine covers the Influenza A strain as well as two Influenza B strains. She firmly believes in the flu shot and receives one every year.

It doesn’t matter if a person is very healthy and hasn’t been sick in a decade, the influenza virus can sneak up on anybody. Sickness is everywhere. We all touch door handles, computers, screens and even other people’s hands. It only takes one person who is sick with influenza to infect a community.

Those who get the flu shot once every year have a greater chance of having a healthier immune system versus those who tend to procrastinate getting the vaccination. Getting the flu shot every season can result in a rich reward for an individual’s health.