Whether it is complacency, inconvenience, or lack of confidence, some patients just need an extra push to get their annual flu shot.

The good news is that the public’s views on vaccination may be trending more positively due to preventable disease outbreaks in recent years. However, reports of last year’s flu vaccine’s disappointing efficacy may lead more patients to forgo immunization this year.

Recently, Walgreens released flu index data that showed flu activity remains relatively low across the country. The states that were the most likely to have flu activity were Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Oklahoma.

Here are 5 facts about the flu vaccine that may prove helpful in persuading patients to get vaccinated:

1.     The flu may temporarily increase the risk of stroke in children.
Contracting the flu, a cold, or minor infections can put kids at greater risk of a stroke.

A recent study found that 18% of children who experienced a stroke had a cold or another infection prior to the incident.

“If our results hold up in further studies, controlling infections like colds and flu through hand-washing and vaccines may be a strategy for preventing stroke in children,” said study author Heather J. Fullerton, MD, MAS, of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

2.     Getting a flu shot can protect against flu-related pneumonia.
Patients who do not get immunized face greater odds of flu-related pneumonia.

Recently, researchers found that patients who were admitted to a hospital with influenza-related pneumonia were less likely to have received their flu shot.

The study authors estimated that the vaccine’s efficacy was around 57%, which means that patients without the flu were about twice as likely to have been vaccinated that those with pneumonia.

3.     The vaccine is expected to be better suited to the flu strains circulating this year.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, announced in September 2015 that the influenza vaccine should be a better match to this year’s flu strain.

Even if the flu season turns out to be a mild one, patients older than 6 months should get vaccinated since hundreds of thousands of patients will be hospitalized because of the flu and thousands will die from the flu each year—even in a good flu year.

4.     Immunization among young adults better protects the elderly against the flu.
Since senior patients are most likely to be hospitalized or die from the flu because of their weakened immune systems, the public should hold special interest in protecting this patient population.
One way younger patients can help is by getting immunized.

A recent study found that as younger patients got vaccinated, the number of flu-related illnesses among the elderly dropped.

“Our findings suggest that flu vaccination should be encouraged among low-risk adults not just for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of higher-risk adults in their community, such as the elderly,” stated study author Glen B. Taksler, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic. “In round numbers, we estimated that about 1 in 20 cases of influenza-related illness in the elderly could have been prevented if more non-elderly adults had received the flu vaccine.”

5.     The flu makes patients miss major life events.
A CVS Health study found that 40% of Americans have missed a major life event such as family gatherings, get-togethers with friends, and work meetings because of flu symptoms.

Americans reported they would feel the most distress if they missed vacation, family gatherings, weddings, graduations, and birthday parties because of how poorly they were feeling.

“The simple fact is that getting an annual flu shot is the best protection available against catching or spreading the flu,” stated Tom Davis, RPh, vice president of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS/pharmacy.