Flu season is just getting underway, which means millions of us soon will get our annual flu vaccination.
And while the vaccine has a longstanding reputation for combatting the flu virus, the shot may have other important benefits that can boost your health in potentially life-saving ways.
So, if you are on the fence about getting a flu shot this year, perhaps these surprising benefits will persuade you to roll up your sleeve soon.
It could lower your Alzheimer’s risk
Several studies have found a link between getting an annual flu shot and a lower risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2022 study out of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that people age 65 and older who had received at least one flu shot in their lifetime were 40% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s compared with people the same age who had never received a flu shot.
Research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in 2020 found that getting at least one flu vaccination dropped the risk of Alzheimer’s by 17%. Additional, frequent vaccinations dropped the risk by another 13%.
It could lower your stroke risk
As we reported in “Getting This Vaccine Might Lower Your Stroke Risk,” the influenza vaccine might lower your risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke.
People age 40 or older who were vaccinated were 12% less likely to have had this type of stroke, according to research published in 2022 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
In addition, a separate 2022 study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke found that illnesses such as the flu increase the odds of having a stroke in the first month following infection. The risk was highest among unvaccinated people age 18 to 44.
It could lower your heart attack risk
The danger of sudden cardiac trouble also may rise sharply shortly after a bout of the flu. A 2018 Canadian study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of a heart attack jumped six-fold during the first week after the flu is detected in laboratory tests.
In a summary of the findings, Dr. Jeff Kwong, lead author of the study, said:
“Our findings, combined with previous evidence that influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events and mortality, support international guidelines that advocate for influenza immunization in those at high risk of a heart attack.”
It might protect you from severe COVID-19 illness
Getting a flu shot might also reduce your risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, according to research presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in 2021. As we reported:
“In some cases, the protective effect was large. For example, people who did not receive the flu vaccine were up to 58% more likely to end up in the emergency department, and also up to 58% more likely to suffer a stroke.”
If you are ready to get vaccinated, consider doing so at one of the “6 Retailers That Will Reward You for Getting a Flu Shot in 2023.”