Sick days: Getting the flu can wreak havoc on your finances
Every year around this time, the ever-evolving influenza virus begins descending upon the Northern Hemisphere, bringing misery to the millions of Americans who end up suffering from it.
On top of the wretched physical symptoms it causes — including fever, chills, muscle aches, cough and fatigue — the cost of getting the flu is generally greater than a dose of prevention.
Yet most people apparently don't mind the risk. In the 2015-2016 flu season, just 43.3% of U.S. adults got the flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those under age 18, the rate was 59%.
At the same time, an estimated 24.5 million were stricken with the flu, resulting in 11 million medical visits, 308,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths.
The financial impact? An estimated annual $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults.
"Getting the flu shot should be a no-brainer," said certified financial planner Chris Chen, wealth strategist with Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, Massachusetts. "The low or free cost of the shot is one of the great deals of everyday living, given what it can cost if you get the flu."
In the 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC estimates that the flu vaccine prevented about 5.1 illnesses, 2.5 million flu-induced medical visits and 71,000 hospitalizations.