Many of us have heard mixed information about the flu shot and its effect on us and our bodies. Let’s clear up some of these flu shot misconceptions, so you and your family can stay as healthy as possible during this year’s flu season. Here are 5 things to know about the flu shot:
The flu shot does not give you the flu.
We often hear from others that “The flu shot gives you the flu”. Well, it doesn’t exactly work out that way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The flu vaccine does not give someone a live virus. In fact, the virus in the flu shot is inactivated (killed), which means it is not infectious. If someone does get sick after receiving the flu shot, it’s possible they were going to get sick anyway, with or without getting the vaccine.
Everyone benefits from the flu shot.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, including pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions and weak immune systems. Even if you’re in perfect health, you can greatly benefit from receiving the flu shot. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization, or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than taking the risk of getting sick.
Also, getting vaccinated yourself protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions. Vaccination is also important for health care workers and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading the flu to them.
Remember, the flu shot will protect you AND your loved ones!
The flu shot works.
Another flu misconception often heard is that “the scientists will get it wrong anyway” and “the shot doesn’t work”. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research shows will be most common during the upcoming season. So, while not all the flu types will be covered by this year’s vaccine, research has shown that the flu vaccination reduces the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. Any protection helps! If you’re concerned about the vaccine’s coverage, talk with your health care provider about the type of flu vaccine they provide. Some vaccines are called “trivalent” and prevent three flu virus strains, while another is called “quadrivalent”, preventing four flu virus strains.
The flu shot should be part of your yearly routine.
Just because someone had a flu shot once in their life does not guarantee they will be protected against this year’s flu season. The flu virus changes each year, so yearly vaccination is the only way to stay up to date on flu prevention. As mentioned earlier, the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older. The CDC recommends a yearly vaccine because every flu season is different, affecting people differently.
The flu shot is just one part of flu prevention.
You got the flu shot? AWESOME! Now, let’s practice some other important flu prevention skills, such as handwashing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and receiving care if feeling sick.
- Handwashing. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Regular hand washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
- Avoiding contact. Avoid contact with others who are sick or if you are sick. If you can’t avoid contact with others, cover coughs and/or sneezes with a tissue or upper arm. Throw out the tissue after use, wash hands routinely, and clean surfaces that may have been exposed to germs.
- Receiving care. If you get sick with the flu, talk to a doctor about taking antiviral drugs to treat your illness. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, or an inhaled powder) and are not available over the counter. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
Now you have the facts to help you and your family prevent the flu! Ready to get a flu vaccine? Visit any one of our convenient AppleCare Urgent Care Clinics today! Our clinics are open days, nights, and weekends and there’s no need to make an appointment.