Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and the influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized, and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu every year. There are a lot of myths regarding the flu vaccine. Here’s what you need to know.
THE FLU VACCINE CAN GIVE ME THE FLU.
The flu shot cannot cause the influenza virus. It is not a live virus vaccine, and it can’t replicate in the body. Flu vaccines are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection. As with any vaccine, you may experience some side effects. The most common are redness, tenderness, mild swelling at the injection site, headache, nausea, and a low-grade fever. Side effects are generally mild and go away within a couple of days.
IT IS BETTER TO GET THE FLU THAN THE FLU VACCINE.
No. The flu is not just a bad cold. The flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. 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 risking illness to obtain immune protection.
THE FLU VACCINE HAS PRESERVATIVES LIKE MERCURY-BASED THIMEROSAL.
Most flu vaccines do not contain thimerosal or preservatives. There are some multi-dose vials that do have preservatives to safeguard them against contamination. If this is your concern regarding receiving the flu vaccine, make sure you request getting the preservative-free vaccine.
I CANNOT RECEIVE THE VACCINE BECAUSE I AM ALLERGIC TO EGGS AND POULTRY.
There are egg-free versions of the flu vaccine. The Recombinant flu vaccine is produced using a method that does not require an egg-grown vaccine virus and does not use chicken eggs in the production process. If you have an egg or poultry allergy and want to receive the flu vaccine, make sure to talk to your doctor about the egg-free vaccine.
PREGNANT WOMEN CANNOT RECEIVE THE FLU VACCINE.
Yes they can and they should! The CDC and ACIP recommend that pregnant women get vaccinated during any trimester of their pregnancy.
BESIDE THE VACCINATION, HOW CAN PEOPLE PROTECT THEMSELVES AGAINST THE FLU?
Make sure to eat healthy, exercise, and take care of yourself every day to help keep your body and immune system healthy. Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water or use a alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread this way. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. You can always wear a mask if you are around people that are sick or during a high flu season.
SHOULD I GET THE FLU VACCINE?
Vaccines can be controversial, and the decision whether to vaccinate you and your family is a personal one. I hope I provided some information for you that was helpful, and maybe cleared up some common misconceptions regarding the flu vaccine. Please do your research (check your sources for valid information) and talk to your doctor about receiving a flu vaccine. For more great information on the flu vaccine visit the CDC’s flu vaccine webpage.
Your Health Rx:
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Getting a flu shot is an effective way to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of receiving the flu vaccine to see if the vaccine is right for you.
Stay well my friends!