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The Flu Shot Should Not Be Mandatory

1324 words - 5 pages

Should the Flu Shot Be Mandatory?

Vaccines have been proclaimed by many people as one of the miracles of
modern medicine. Vaccines are credited with saving thousands of lives
and wiping out many contagious diseases. Recently, there has been a
tremendous debate whether annual influenza vaccines should be
mandatory. Influenza vaccines should be voluntary because people have
the right to examine data on vaccinations and make their own informed
decisions. Although people should have the freedom to choose to be
vaccinated, the public needs to be educated about the personal,
economical, and social benefits of receiving the influenza vaccine. In
addition, people who are at a high risk of contracting influenza as
well as health care providers should be encouraged to receive an
influenza vaccine in order to decrease the major health burden
associated with the disease.

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection of the
respiratory system and it is characterized by abrupt onset of fever,
sore throat, and nonproductive cough. Influenza is spread from person
to person by inhalation of the droplets produced when a person
infected with influenza coughs or sneezes. In addition, it can also be
spread by contact with infected objects such as utensils. Current
influenza vaccines are about 70% to 90% effective in preventing
influenza in healthy adults. Since the vaccines are made of dead
fragments of influenza viruses, they cannot cause influenza. The
strains of influenza that circulate change every year and therefore,
it is necessary to make a new influenza vaccine annually. After
vaccination, the body's immune system produces antibodies against the
"inactivated" virus in the vaccine. Therefore, if a person is exposed
to the real virus, the antibodies prevent the infection or reduce the
possibility of severe illness if the infection does occur. Although
the majority of people infected with influenza recover completely
within a week to ten days, some people are at a greater risk of
experiencing more severe and long-lasting complications. The flu can
lead to complications such as pneumonia and in some circumstances,
severe complications in high-risk groups can lead to death. The number
of deaths attributed to influenza varies each year, but it is
estimated to be approximately 500 to 1500 deaths per influenza season.

People who are at an increased risk for complications include very
young children, people over 65 years of age, and those already
suffering from medical conditions including bronchitis, heart disease,
diabetes, and kidney disease. Influenza vaccinations administered to
high-risk people reduce hospitalizations, premature deaths, and they
result in substantial cost savings to the health care system. As a
result, the burden placed on the health care system is significantly...

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