It’s flu shot season

dum-dums

After my most recent flu shot I grabbed a green apple lollipop before walking out the door. I am not a fan of needles, but felt fine afterward.

It is flu shot season.

For at least the past 9 years I have gotten a flu shot. My company provides them for free and onsite.

I am more inclined to get my flu shot if my company provides them and if they are easy to get onsite. I have had several jobs provide free flu shots onsite. It makes sense to me. You want your employees to be healthy and, of course, be productive.

I know some people don’t get flu shots for a variety of reasons and that is their choice. But I ask all of you that when you are sick, please keep your germs at home and don’t bring them to work, which includes your sick kids. (I have co-workers who will bring their sick kids to work because they can’t go to day care of school …)

But today’s post isn’t about any of that. It is about some of the myths about the flu and flu shots.

When I asked one of my co-workers if he was going to get his flu shot his response was, I don’t want to get sick.

Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu

According to WebMD, injected flu vaccines only contain dead virus, and a dead virus is, well, dead: it can’t infect you. There is one type of live virus flu vaccine, the nasal vaccine, FluMist. But in this case, the virus is specially engineered to remove the parts of the virus that make people sick.

Despite the scientific impossibility of getting the flu from the flu vaccines, this widespread flu myth won’t die. Experts suspect two reasons for its persistence.  One, people mistake the side effects of the vaccine for flu. While side effects to the vaccine these days tend to be a sore arm, in the past, side effects often felt like mild symptoms of the flu. Two, flu season coincides with a time of year when bugs causing colds and other respiratory illnesses are in the air.  Many people get the vaccine and then, within a few days, get sick with an unrelated cold virus. However, they blame the innocent flu vaccine, rather than their co-worker with a runny nose and cough.

Myth: (Flu) vaccines are dangerous

In recent years, there’s been growing mistrust of vaccines, including the flu vaccine. Some believe that there could be a link between vaccines–specifically the ingredient thimerosal–and developmental disorders in children, like autism.  However, there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, and experts say that we’re losing sight of how important vaccines are.

If you’re still concerned, you should know that there are thimerosal-free flu vaccines available. In fact, every year, manufacturers produce more of this vaccine than people use. If you want your child to get it, just ask your doctor.

Myth: Cold weather causes the flu

No matter what your grandmother may have said, going outside in the winter hatless does not increase your risk of flu. While there might seem to be a connection–since flu season coincides with colder months in the U.S.–there isn’t. After all, flu season is the same throughout the whole country: even if it’s frigid in Minnesota, it’s still warm in Florida. The rise and fall of flu season each year has more to do with the natural cycle of the virus, although experts aren’t exactly sure how it works.

Colder weather might increase the risk of flu in one way: We might come into closer contact with other people because we’re all stuck inside. That could make it easier for the virus to spread.

WebMD provided the top three myths. Read more in the link provided.

Myth: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated

Harvard Health Publications say it’s true that the flu vaccination is routinely recommended for people who have a chronic illness. But anyone—even healthy folks–can benefit from being vaccinated. Current guidelines suggest that children ages 6 months to 19 years old, pregnant women, and anyone over age 49 be vaccinated each year. In addition, the flu shot is recommended for healthy people who might spread the virus to others who are particularly susceptible.

Myth: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to do to protect yourself from the flu

There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself during flu season besides vaccination. Avoid contact with people who have the flu, wash your hands frequently …

Myth: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well

Actually, 20% to 30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.

Harvard Health Publications provided the next three myths above. To read more myths, read more from Harvard Health Publications.

The CDC provides a flu/vaccine misconception Q&A. Here are some highlights:

Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?

No. Flu is a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes.

Can a flu shot give you the flu?

No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection.

Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?

Yes. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season.

The three questions and answers came from the CDC article on flu misconceptions.

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2 Comments

  1. I am ever so grateful when someone explains the importance of vaccines, especially for those who really need it yet believe the flu vaccine will do more harm than good. I have asthma and an auto immune disease and wouldn’t even consider NOT getting the vaccine. The one year I failed to get the flu vaccine, I spent Christmas Eve in the ER. Thank you for taking the time to explain a sometimes complex and thought provoking issue in a way that is comprehensive and coherent.

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