Should You Get a Flu Shot? We Settle the Debate

Photo: Urban Outfitters

This year's flu virus is the worst strain in eight years, according to Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There have been 53 pediatric flu-related deaths (among several other undocumented instances) since October, and the virus spans 48 states and Puerto Rico (Oregon and Hawaii have low activity levels). And sadly, we haven't even reached peak flu season yet—patient numbers are still rising, and we're estimated to have many more weeks left. To add insult to injury, this year's strain of influenza viruses include B strains (Yamagata and Victoria), H1N1 and H3N2, the latter of which has been dubbed a "bad actor" responsible for more complications and deaths than any other strain.

Said U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in a press announcement Thursday, "I strongly encourage anyone who hasn't had a flu shot to get one and anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms to promptly consult with their healthcare provider about appropriate treatment." If you're skeptical about getting a flu shot, this statement may still not have swayed you. Vaccinations of different variations are constantly debated and scrutinized for their possible side effects. But with a countrywide epidemic that's as easy to pick up as touching a subway pole or sitting next to a sick co-worker (the flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for a full day), it's worth investigating the pros and cons with other informed medical professionals to ensure you're protected.