Flu shots make the holidays healthier

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We know you’re probably already in the middle of this year’s holiday rush, but treat yourself to a big Christmas present if you haven’t already: Get a flu shot.

There are plenty of practical reasons to follow through on that advice and one stark one. We’ll address the most first: Three people in North Carolina already have died in the flu season that just began, including one person in the Eastern part of the state.

Complications from the flu can go dangerously beyond a sore throat and stuffy nose. It kills far too many people each year, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

On a less alarming note, it makes sense to get vaccinated for practical reasons, too.

Smaller needles have made the shot considerably less uncomfortable. It takes only a few seconds to administer. It’s readily available at health departments in Nash and Edgecombe counties. And many health insurance plans cover the cost, as well.

The vaccine isn’t a guarantee that you won’t contract the flu, but it greatly reduces the risk, and it also helps mitigate the impact of influenza if you do catch it. Getting vaccinated is a welcome act of kindness for your loved ones, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even your enemies. If you’re less likely to contract the flu, then they’re less likely to catch it from you.

In fact, vaccination has big health advantages for the entire country. The United States spends an estimated $87 billion a year treating and fighting influenza, according to a task force called the National Adult Vaccine Program.

North Carolina’s adult population is woefully lackadaisical when it comes to taking care of itself.

Only about 45 percent of the adults in the state are vaccinated each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The state has a goal of doubling that number to 90 percent.

A vaccination against the flu typically takes about two weeks to reach full strength once you’ve had the shot.

With the flu season expected to peak in January and February, now’s the perfect time to roll up a sleeve and take care of yourself.

The holidays will be significantly brighter if you’re healthy enough to enjoy them.