An Asthmatic’s Tale: I’ll Take that Flu Shot Now, Please

Flu seasons always seemed to come and go without really affecting me, so I never bothered to get a flu shot. I have asthma, but it’s well-controlled and I was healthy—I thought I didn’t need the flu vaccine. Then something happened that changed my mind.

One morning seven years ago, I woke up and was unable to get out of bed. My breaths were rapid and shallow and I was too weak to stand. My husband took one look at me, and told me we were heading to the doctor’s office. (Not without an argument, of course.)

When he saw me, my doctor immediately ordered a chest X-ray and wanted me on breathing treatments. I had all the symptoms of pneumonia. And as I saw the nurses scramble, I thought “How bad off am I?”

Each year, 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for flu-related complications, such as pneumonia. Some people die. As a person with asthma, and as bad as I felt, I had no idea if I would become one of those people.

I was lucky. After four hours of breathing treatments and tests, my doctor saw some improvement and sent me home with a handful of pills, an inhaler and a manual spirometer.

My doctor explained that my lungs are already compromised with asthma, so getting the flu puts me more at risk for pneumonia. One shot could have saved me from paying for doctor visits, X-rays, breathing treatments, tests and prescriptions, plus weeks of missed work.

Ever since then, I listen to my doctor and I get my flu shot. I had to learn the hard way that a quick shot in the arm is better than a stay in the hospital.

Most Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and all Blue Care Network members can receive their flu shot at no extra cost. To find out more, go to bcbsm.com/preventflu.

Photo credit: NHS Employers

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