As far back as she can remember, 22-year old Jessica Diamond has never had the flu, so getting a flu shot was never top of mind.
“I didn’t really understand the importance of it, but for the past couple of years I started getting it,” says Jessica Diamond.
She’s in the minority for her age group. Last year the CDC found only 1 in 5 young adults were vaccinated. While they’re one of the most healthy demographics, experts believe they are key in avoiding an outbreak.
“What we are really aiming to prevent is the transmission to the rest of the population so once again the more people you immunize the less chance you have of developing an epidemic,” says Arlene Wright, nurse practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
Babies were actually most protected. Seventy-five percent of those between 6 months and 23 months were vaccinated. It’s important because they have less developed immune systems.
“They try to slip it in with their regular routine immunizations as best they can, but that’s also why it’s important for everybody that’s around those babies is immunized., it’s sort of like cocooning that baby,” says Wright.
At the same time, only 68% of seniors got the shot. That number’s been dropping for years. It’s a dangerous trend, because they’re among the most vulnerable.
“Because if they do get the flu and they get ill then they are more prone to the complications,” says Wright.
So Diamond has become part of the firewall, protecting herself to keep those around her safe.“My family has a lot of younger children and older people. It’s good to have it and make sure you don’t spread it because younger kids and older generation might get sicker,” says Diamond.