When counseling patients about why they should receive the influenza vaccine, I remind them that each year the disease kills 250,000 to 500,000 persons worldwide and more than 37,000 persons in the United States. This means that influenza kills more people per year than auto accidents. I tell healthy, younger adults that even though influenza tends to be more lethal in young children and in persons who are elderly or immunocompromised, getting the flu can put them out of commission for 1 to 2 weeks. I also note that the vaccine can never cause influenza, since it contains only small pieces of the virus. After going over these quick facts, my success rate in convincing patients to receive the vaccine (as my nurse can attest!) is higher than 90%.
—Scott Graham, MD
St Petersburg, Fla