It depends on who you are
For some people that protection is still the best bet. If you’re a non-pregnant adult under 50, your immune system is in good shape, and you don’t have asthma, diabetes, or one of the other conditions that put you at risk for complications, you’ll probably survive the flu… or WILL you? (Kidding, you probably will.) You may look at the effectiveness history and choose to spend that time and money on a couple beers.
But if you are in the risky group, you want to be as protected as you can get. And if you’re one of those good people who work in the health field or take care of children or the elderly (or if you have contact with kids, or granny and gramps) you’d better be getting that vaccine -- otherwise you may end up being a jerk and giving the flu to someone for whom it can be serious. While the WHO might not say so, that’s just bad karma.
It’s not always a shot
It’s called a flu “shot,” but it doesn’t have to be an actual shot. Your choice depends on your age and other factors, like allergies and pregnancy. The two main options are the shot and the nasal spray, with the former being OK for a broad age range and for pregnant women, and safer for people with asthma. Meanwhile, the nasal spray is suitable for a more restricted population, plus it may cause a few more side effects. The spray is also less widely available, and tends to cost a couple bucks more. The other good one to be aware of is the recombinant shot, which is for those unfortunate individuals who are allergic to eggs.
It IS easy and cheap/free
To get a flu shot, you don’t really need free time, appointments, doctors, or insurance (but those are good, too). Heck, you barely even need money. You can walk into a pharmacy or health center whenever you feel so inspired, and bam, flu shot on the spot. There’s even a map that tells you how much it will cost to Uber it to the nearest flu shot source, which, if you’re feeling like you live in a dystopian futuristic world, is evidence of that. But it’s also convenient!
With insurance, you may be able to get a flu shot for free or with a small co-pay, but even completely out of pocket, you’ll most likely pay $30-something or less. If you can afford it, you might as well do it.
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Marina Komarovsky is a freelance writer for Thrillist who lives abroad and wishes that travel vaccines were as cheap as the one for flu. For more on public health, follow her tweets @MariKomarovsky.