A few years ago, I thought I was dying. My body ached (hurt). I couldn’t breathe. I had a high fever (body temperature).
I had “the flu.”
The flu, short for influenza, is a highly contagious (easy to pass from one person to another) virus. A virus is a very small thing you can’t see that gets into your body and makes you sick. There are actually several different kinds of viruses that can give you the flu, and it is often different from year to year.
For some people, like young children and the elderly (old people), the flu can be life-threatening (cause death).
So since then, I’ve tried to get a flu shot every year. (A shot is a drug you get from a needle (sharp instrument that goes through your skin – see the photo).
Like many Americans, I’m part of an HMO, a Health Maintenance Organization, which is basically a type of private medical insurance. I pay a certain amount of money each month and I get health benefits, such as visits to the doctor, laboratory tests, and treatment for illnesses or medical conditions at a lower cost than if I did not have insurance.
One of the benefits of my health plan is a “free” flu shot every year. I go into the medical center, the nurse takes a needle, and injects (puts into my body) a vaccine into my arm.
The vaccine contains a little bit of the flu–not the part that makes you sick–and your body starts to fight it. Later, if you come across (meet) the flu, your body is ready to fight it off and prevent you from getting sick. (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as we sometimes say!)
It’s worked for me. I haven’t had the flu in years—knock on wood. (“Knock on wood” is something we say to mean “I hope my good luck continues.”)
So this week I’ll be getting another flu shot. Maybe you should, too?
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