You may have heard from friends or family members the various excuses as to why they haven't gotten their flu shots: “The flu shot’s overrated.” or “It’s too late in the season to bother getting a flu shot. I’ll do it next year.” or “I’m a healthy adult, so I don’t really need a flu shot, right?” 

I hear comments like these in my practice all the time. Though many of these beliefs are widely held, they couldn’t be more wrong. 

With 80,000 flu-related deaths in the United States last season, influenza is nothing to ignore. Falling vaccination rates made last winter the deadliest flu season in more than four decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The responsible thing to do

Though you may think you’re healthy enough to take a pass on getting pricked this year, you may be carrying the disease — and can spread it to vulnerable populations, including children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems.

Skipping the flu shot literally puts the lives of others at risk.

As a pediatric allergist and immunologist, I often work with patients who are the most at risk come flu season: kids with asthma. One sneeze by an otherwise healthy adult fighting the flu can quickly turn into a life-or-death infection for a child with asthma who comes in contact with the germs.

Simply put: Skipping the flu shot literally puts the lives of others at risk. 

Never too late

There's another common myth that needs to be addressed. No, it’s not too late in the season to get your flu shot. As long as doctors and pharmacies are still offering them, it’s not too late to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. 

Though what we call “flu season” tends to refer to the winter months, the CDC confirms that flu activity continues throughout the year, peaking as late as May in the United States

The nose may not know

A quick warning about nasal sprays. At least one well-known spray was previously approved to protect people from getting the flu. But that is no longer the recommendation. New research as shown the spray does not offer as much protection against flu as the traditional vaccine shot.

That said, getting the nasal spray is still better than no protection at all — so if you absolutely can’t do the traditional shot, experts still recommend nasal vaccination over nothing at all.

Spread the word, not the flu

Want to be a real champion? Don’t stop with getting vaccinated — spread the word about their importance.

As a doctor and as a volunteer with the American Lung Association, I’m proud of my work to get the word out about the importance of the flu shot. You can help by encouraging your friends and loved ones to get vaccinated themselves. Together, we can reduce flu deaths this year and in years to come. 

Learn more about protecting yourself and the ones you love from the flu at Lung.org.