Doctors hope everyone gets vaccinated after deadly flu season last year

- As flu season approaches, health officials urge everyone to get vaccinated to keep themselves and others safe. 

Jan Erickson has never had a flu shot. When asked why, she said her immune system is great and it’s never been a problem for her.

When it comes to the flu vaccine some people make it a point to get it - like Melissa Coffman, who gets it to protect herself and her family. Others, however, steer clear.

“I’ve gotten it once and I really didn’t see a difference,” said Amanda Hansen. “So, nope, I just don’t get it.”

With flu season around the corner, health officials are urging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated.

“We know than influenza circulates every year and we’re all at risk for getting sick and the vaccine is really our best opportunity to protect ourselves,” said Dr. Elyse Kharbanda.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 80,000 people died of the flu and complications arising from the virus last winter. It made headlines as the deadliest flu season in at least four decades.

The death toll was driven by a severe strain of the virus and ineffective flu vaccines.

“Yes, unfortunately because last year was a challenging year for the influenza vaccine, I think that there will be a little more resistance and people may not be as quick to get vaccinated,” Kharbanda said. “That being said it’s still our best option.”

Kharbanda, a researcher for Health Partners Institutes, says that those who are pregnant are at a high risk.

“The other very high risk group is newborns, so by vaccinating during pregnancy you can protect pregnant women and they can also pass some of that protection on to their newborn,” she added.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, muscle aches and sore throat.

Dr. Kharbanda says that the misconception that flu vaccines cause flu illness still persists, but one fact remains: the flu can kill.

“We see deaths in otherwise healthy children and adults,” Kharbanda said. “Everyone has the option to get vaccinated and it’s certainly worthwhile.”

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