Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on Oct. 5, 2020.
In a viral Facebook post, nurse Amanda Bitz explains that people who are on the fence about the flu vaccination should get the shot "not ... for you," but "for those around you" who have diseases and conditions that might make them more susceptible to the infection.
Infographic: How to avoid the flu when you fly
The flu shot 'isn't about you'
CDC recommends that anyone older than six months receive a flu vaccine every season.
As vaccination rates decrease and speculation surrounding flu shots rise, Bitz, a night-shift nurse, took to Facebook to explain why people should still get the shot each season.
In the post, which as of Friday was shared more than 92,000 times on Facebook, Bitz explains that the vaccine can prevent influenza, an "awful" respiratory illness that causes you to "spike fevers," makes "every bone and muscle in your body ach[e]"—and can even "lead to death." According to Bitz, the infection is particularly dangerous for patients with weakened immune systems, who may have chronic diseases or other conditions that make them more vulnerable to infections and put them at higher risk of hospitalization or death due to the illness.
This is why when you get the flu shot, it's not "always about you," but about establishing herd immunity to protect "those around you" who are particularly vulnerable, Bitz writes.
It's "for the grandparents," who "can't kick an illness in the butt like when they were young," "[f]or the 30-year-old with HIV or AIDS," and "[f]or the 25-year-old mother of three who has cancer" and has "absolutely zero immune system because of chemotherapy," Bitz writes.
Herd immunity can also help protect "the newborn baby who was just welcomed into the world, and isn't quite strong enough to fight off infections …, the single dad who can't take anymore sick days," as well as "the nurses and doctors that take care of you," Bitz writes. "If they get sick, they can't go to work and take care of the countless patients [who] need them."
Bitz adds that as a nurse, she has "watched patients struggle to breathe" and has "busted my butt … to keep that patient comfortable and fighting a terrible respiratory infection"—and she's also "been in the room as a patient has passed away, because of influenza."
This is why getting the flu shot is about more than our individual health, Bitz writes. "Herd immunity is a thing. Influenza killing people is a thing," she writes. "You getting the flu shot, should be a thing" (Rolen, Philly Voice, 10/14; Facebook.com, 10/7).