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Hate getting your flu shot every year? You’re not alone! Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off actress Jennifer Grey previously felt the same way. But now, she’s shifted her mindset and found a new way to actually enjoy the day around getting her annual vaccine.
What’s her secret? She’s making a day of it and hopes others will too thanks to an initiative called Flu Shot Fridays, a collaboration between the American Nurses Association and pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.
Like many of us, Grey didn’t think too much about the flu last fall when we were just a few months into the coronavirus pandemic. “Because we were in lockdown and everyone was observing social distancing and mask wearing, there was basically no flu season,” she explains to Woman’s World. However, that’s not necessarily a good thing as far as our immune systems go. Each annual flu season helps us build up antibodies to protect us from sickness the following year, and because we were all quarantining, we didn’t get exposed to those germs.
But now, on top of Covid-19 causing thousands of health complications, hospitalizations, and deaths around the country, we could be looking at a devastating flu season if people don’t get their annual shot and protect themselves and their communities.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control show that anywhere from 140,000 to 810,000 people are hospitalized with the flu every year, and roughly 12,000 to 52,000 people die from it. Moreover, 77 percent of flu-related hospitalizations were adults ages 50 and up. Given that many healthcare facilities nationwide are already at or over capacity with Covid-19 cases, it could be harder for flu patients to find a bed or receive treatment. Receiving a shot not only lessens your likelihood of contracting the flu, but also lowers your risk of hospitalization.
However, getting that flu shot doesn’t have to be a chore! Grey thinks people can turn that jab into an act of self-care. Instead of just heading to your local pharmacy to get your shot and then going straight home, Grey recommends making it more of an activity. Head to your favorite lunch spot with friends beforehand, or go for a walk on the beach once you’re done. Even grab a scoop or two of ice cream after you get the jab while the weather is still relatively mild!
“The reason I really love the idea of Flu Shot Fridays is that they’ve dovetailed it with having a day off and having some fun,” she explains. “We are working so hard, and we’re in such a deficit of pleasure and connectivity from life as we knew it.”
No matter how people end up spending their Flu Shot Fridays, Grey hopes they center it on making time for themselves. “A lot of women take care of a lot of other people and a lot of other people’s needs, and they don’t think about themselves as much,” she says. “Instead of having it on that to-do list and feeling bad about not doing it, just go for it. It’s such a relief to actually do something that you are dreading doing. And then you do it, and you’re like, ‘It was nothing!’”
Not sure where to get your flu shot this fall? The Flu Shot Fridays website makes it easy to locate the nearest healthcare provider to you!
This article was sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur.