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How Does the Flu Shot Help Me?

With the New Year comes an increase in the number of cases of influenza virus. Every winter in the United States and other countries with cold temperatures, a sharp increase in cases of the flu is experienced. To combat the unpleasant symptoms of chills, fever, fatigue, etc., many opt to get the flu vaccine.

Recently, however, an American physician specializing in Internal Medicine posted on Sermo:

Ive had the flu for the last 3 days and was tested positive for influenza just for confirmation’s sake.

I feel terrible from the dry cough (so much that my stomach muscles are aching), malaise, weakness, and low grade fever. And just plain feel like s**t!

My question is this: I hear from so many doctors that the flu shot is helping even if you get the flu, as it increased my immune system to fight the virus better, and I would be sicker if I did not get the flu shot.

Are there any evidence to show that this is true?

Many doctors responded, sharing their opinions on the purpose and benefits of getting the flu vaccine:

“A study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.” – Family Medicine

“A big part of what we are aiming for is decreasing mortality, isnt it? We know we can still get the flu, but we are less likely to have any of the awful complications of it, including ICU stays and death.” – Pediatrics

“The flu vaccine does not prevent infection with influenza, it only has the possibility of improving your immune response to the virus if you become infected with that particular strain, or the three strains of the vaccine. It is hard to explain how it would provide herd immunity if it does not prevent infection, or necessarily decrease shedding of the virus once you are infected, it only attenuates the severity of the disease once you become infected.” Emergency Medicine

“Vaccines work best when the prevalence is low, so if everybody who is able to get the flu shot does so early before the season hits, in theory the decrease in prevalence helps everyone.” – Urgent Care Medicine 

“Ive said this every year for nearly ten years now that the influenza vaccine helps keep you out of the ICU or dead. Simple as that.” – Pediatrics

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