Less than a year ago, we lost a family member. He died from the flu.

My wife’s cousin, Rafa, was a great guy. He had a huge passion for life. That passion extended from his family to classic cars, to his motorcycle club and his “iron butt” status. He always greeted me with a big smile and a warm hug. He was not much older than I am. And he was taken from us way too early.

Flu season is approaching. And as it does, I’m once again urging all my readers to get the flu shot. I do this every day at the clinic. But this season, I’m not only encouraging my patients to get one, I’m asking that they reconsider the reasons they use for not getting one.

These are the most common reasons I hear.

“I never get the flu.”

“I got the flu from the flu shot.”

“One year, I got the shot and got the flu anyway.”

“I heard you can die from the flu shot.”

“I hate shots.”

Let me counter with a few of my own responses.

Rafa died from the flu.

Thousands of people die from the flu every year.

You cannot get the flu from a flu shot.

Nobody likes shots. But it is not as bad as getting the flu.

You shouldn’t need to get lung cancer to know that smoking is bad for you. You don’t need to get into a car accident to understand that seat belts save lives. Likewise, we know that flu shots save lives. The flu is a serious disease. Every year it leads to severe illness, hospitalization, complications and even death. It is contracted by healthy people as well as those most vulnerable, like senior citizens and children. We know that the best way to reduce your chance of getting the flu and spreading it through your community is to get a flu shot. The more people get vaccinated against the flu, the less it can spread to others. Think of it this way. If you didn’t get the flu last year, it’s largely because a lot of other people did get a flu shot and contributed to keeping it from spreading.

So this year, do your part. Get a flu shot. Don’t do it for Rafa or for me. Get a flu shot because it will reduce your risk of dying from the flu – and also help to keep your loved ones and your community safer and healthier.

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