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Three good reasons for getting a flu shot

I nominate Athos, Porthos and Aramis to be the official spokesmen for this year’s influenza vaccination campaign. That’s right. It is once again time to roll up our sleeves for yet another worthy cause. But who are Athos, Porthos, and Aramis? They are much better known as The Three Musketeers, of course, and they are famous for their motto, “All for one, one for all.” Their motto should be our battle cry.

Why? Because deciding to get a flu shot is about much more than protecting yourself from an inconvenient illness. Each year, influenza kills about 20,000 Americans. Who are they? Most are elderly, very young, or those unfortunate to be battling a chronic heart, lung or metabolic disease.

Not all of these people can get a flu shot. Infants under six months old cannot be vaccinated because their immune systems are too immature to respond. That is why influenza has a much higher death rate in this age group. The elderly also have weaker immune systems, so that even if they do get vaccinated, it does not provide as much protection as for people in the middle age groups. That is where you and I come in.

Each one of us needs to get an influenza vaccination every year in order to protect all of us. That is the “one for all” part. All of us need to be vaccinated so we can protect those most very vulnerable individuals. That is the “all for one” part.

Remember, each inconvenient and annoying case of influenza that we can avoid for ourselves is one fewer person who can transmit a deadly infection to the weakest ones among us. There are dozens of flimsy excuses that you can come up with to justify not getting your influenza vaccine. However, I hope that you will remember the three good reasons in the spirit of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.

P.S.: I am a retired Bemidji Family Physician and have been the hospital infection control chairman for more than 25 years. I have gotten an annual influenza vaccination every year for the past 33 years.