The flu vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the flu by between 40 and 60 percent, but only 47 percent of the U.S. population gets vaccinated, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Associated Press last week that an estimated 80,000 Americans died of complications from the flu last winter, the highest death toll from the virus in four decades.
Medical professionals across the country have been emphasizing the importance of getting the flu vaccine. At a recent panel hosted by the CDC and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases in Washington, D.C., Surgeon General Jerome Adams told the crowd that it was their “social responsibility” to get vaccinated.
Even with clinical evidence and overwhelming support from the medical community, many are still skeptical of the vaccine's effectiveness. Some worry it could cause permanent damage to their children, a claim that has no evidence to support it.
Art Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, refuted these claims Wednesday on Boston Public Radio.
“There are people all over the internet saying, 'If I take my vitamins I don’t need a flu shot. If I get out in the fresh air and exercise I don't need a flu shot. The flu shot gives me the flu.' There are some people that say, 'The flu shot gives my children or potential children autism,'” Caplan said. “There really is no reason to not get a flu shot. It is safe. Maybe it doesn’t work as well as we wished it did, but what does it take to get it, 20-seconds?”
Caplan urged listeners not to procrastinate and to get the vaccination soon, when contracting the flu is unlikely.
"Don’t wait, get it soon. Don’t get it in the middle of the flu season. It is risky then, because you are probably going to have the flu," he said.