By Audrey Carter, Health Navigator
Less than fifty-five percent of American millennials got a flu shot in 2019. In 2020, a year defined by the spread of COVID-19, flu vaccinations will play an essential role in minimizing the impact of this new virus. No one can know for certain what the coming months will look like, but it is believed that flu season will be a catalyst for the spread of COVID-19. We are at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 when our immune system is fighting against another ailment and infection from a respiratory virus like the flu will very likely increase the medical complications caused by COVID-19 infection. Given this urgency, it’s important to examine why so few millennials have gotten vaccinated in the past if we want to encourage them to do so now.
Resistance To Flu Shots
For many millennials, apathy led them to believe that they would be fine without a flu vaccine. Others resisted getting a flu shot because they felt vaccines caused more harm than good. For most young people the common cold is a few days of sniffles and the stomach flu keeps them in bed for a week, at worst. We assume that this is because our bodies are strong enough to handle anything. Yet in 1918, a strain of the H1N1 flu killed approximately 675,000 American citizens. As the national average of flu related deaths since 2010 hovers around 35,000, it would be easy to assume that we have become cleaner and stronger and, in a sense, this is true. We are cleaner and stronger as a direct result of vaccination. In an era of juice cleansing and supplement taking, millennials like myself are often led to believe that health can be found in the abandonment of old beliefs and the adoption of a “natural” lifestyle. Seeking to improve on the past is a good mission and allows for our necessary growth. Yet when we write off the old, we forget the value of lessons learned long before we were born.
So Why Vaccinate?
As our bodies have been continually introduced to small amounts of each new strain of the flu before it’s inevitable spread, our bodies have built up layers of armor to protect us from serious harm. Every year we choose not to get vaccinated, we are removing a layer of armor and exposing ourselves to greater risk. When we fail to acknowledge history, we quickly regress. It’s easy to think “I don’t need a flu shot, I never get sick!” and leave it at that, but with each year we maintain our vaccinations we are reinforcing the armor we were suited with by those who came before us. Looking forward, I hope to see myself and other millennials growing old with the comfort that we did what we could to protect those who came after us. When considering our history and responding with doubt, let’s keep going. Instead of disregarding what we don’t understand, let’s seek knowledge. Let’s ask our doctors why we should get vaccinated and make decisions informed by our history and not our fear.
Hamdard is offering FREE FLU SHOTS with your next appointment. Click below to schedule your next appointment today!Book Your Appointment!