Health officials urge flu shots as millennials resist

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

With flu cases on the rise, health officials at the state and federal level are urging people of all ages to get flu shots.

Despite that advice, more than half of millennials resist getting vaccinated, according to a new survey from CityMD, conducted by Harris Poll’s Quick Query for the network of urgent care centers.

The online survey polled 2,080 adults ages 18 and older on their intentions for a flu shot and reasons they may forgo vaccination. About 52 percent of millennials said they had no plans to get a shot. The No. 1 reason? They don’t trust a shot to keep them from getting the flu.

But CityMD attending physician Dawne Kort says the shots are effective.

“The flu is something to take very seriously, no matter your age. While the severity of the flu season varies each year, you want to best prepare your immune system for this infectious disease. The flu shot is the most effective way to keep your body healthy,” Kort says.

In addition, if someone does get the flu even after getting vaccinated, it is more likely to be a milder case.

Flu season began in November and generally continues through March.

Influenza can range from mild to severe and, in some cases, can cause life-threatening complications. Symptoms can come on quickly and include fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches and tiredness.

As of late December, Wisconsin health officials cited reports of 161 influenza cases this season, as well as 95 influenza-associated hospitalizations, including eight children and 78 adults ages 50 and older.

Of those hospitalized with influenza, 63 percent were ages 65 years and older.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone age six months and older should be vaccinated annually.

Additionally, State Health Officer Karen McKeown said, “There are also many simple steps people can take now to avoid spreading the flu to family and friends and to keep from getting it themselves.”

Some precautions:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve and try to avoid touching your face with your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.

• Use your own drinking cups and straws.

• Avoid exposure to people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.

• Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest and do not smoke.

• Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, refrigerator handle, telephone, faucets).

If you think you have the flu, call your doctor and stay home, rest and drink plenty of liquids.

See also:

Shots urged as flu cases rise in Wisconsin

UW research aims to improve flu vaccine choice