As the flu season is in full swing, many people, especially parents, are concerned about the flu vaccine and the flu in general. We hope to dispel a few common myths and misconceptions about flu vaccines in this article. Don’t get caught in scaremongering. Keep you and your children safe this flu season by arming yourself with the right flu vaccination facts.
Seasonal influenza, also known as “flu,” is a highly contagious virus spread mainly by coughing, sneezing, and close contact with those who have the virus. Flu symptoms can be mild to severe and include fever, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Other common symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, and muscle aches.
Flu vaccines are safe and effective in preventing the flu. Its safety record is excellent, and numerous scientific studies indicate that vaccines, with their formulations, are safe for people except for a few (people with egg allergies and those with Guillain Barre Syndrome}. Acquiring the flu shot protects you from the flu and its potential complications – like pneumonia or other viral infections that can result in hospitalization or death.
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts studies to assess the effectiveness of influenza vaccines. The effectiveness of flu vaccines may vary, but recent studies suggest flu vaccination reduces flu risk by 40% to 60% in seasons when scientists develop the vaccines to match flu viruses circulating at that time.
Flu vaccination offers many benefits, yet only half of Americans get the vaccine each year. With this, the flu continues to affect millions of people, results in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and claims thousands of lives annually. There will be more protection against influenza if more people have the immunization.
Below is a round-up of some of the most common flu shot myths, misconceptions, and confusions around seasonal flu vaccination with some facts on each subject to set the record straight.
Fact: Influenza vaccine shots contain no live viruses, so they cannot cause the flu. Even though the nasal spray version includes weakened, live influenza virus, the viruses cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream or produce an infection in the lungs.
Fact: You need to get the flu vaccine annually. Why? Every flu season, the virus strains circulating will vary, which means that immunity from prior vaccinations won’t be sufficient to protect you. Scientists revise flu vaccines each year according to the influenza strains in circulation during the upcoming flu season. This way, you will have the protection you need against the current flu strain. In addition, flu vaccine immunity gradually wears off with time, making it even more important to have a flu shot every year.
Fact: While most people think the flu is merely an inconvenience, it may actually pose a very serious risk for some people. This is especially true for young children, the elderly, and others with compromised immune systems. Complications can include nasal and ear infections, chest infections, and swelling of the heart or brain. In some cases, people can still undergo hospitalization or even die from the illness.
Fact: Flu season runs from October to May, and you can get the flu anytime within this timeframe. It is never too late to get a flu shot. If you are healthy and have not yet had the flu vaccine this season, it is not too late to get the vaccine. A late vaccination can still be more beneficial than not having one at all.
Fact: Regardless of your age or health, you are still at risk of catching the flu. The CDC recommends that people six months or older get an annual flu shot, except in rare circumstances. A flu shot is especially vital for kids, pregnant women, and the elderly, as well as those with weakened immune systems.
Fact: It is not possible to use antibiotics against viruses such as the flu. Antibiotics only work against bacteria. You run an unnecessary risk of adverse reactions if you take antibiotics for influenza. Additionally, you may develop resistance to antibiotics over time.
Fact: According to the CDC, pregnant women should receive the flu vaccine. As a matter of fact, pregnant women have a higher risk of serious influenza-related complications. Although there are two types of flu vaccines, pregnant women should only receive an injection, not the nasal spray.
Fact: The possibility of having the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously during this pandemic is particularly dangerous. Having two viruses can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health. In addition, the healthcare system may collapse if more people need treatment or hospitalization. These are why you should not wait to get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 virus.
Clinics like CMCFresno also have policies and procedures in place to ensure that they administer the vaccinations in a safe, virus-free environment. Find out how to arrange a doctor’s visit during this pandemic through this link.
Fact: Flu shot side effects can include soreness on the injected area, a slight fever, headache, and muscle pain. Nasal sprays may cause mild side effects such as stuffy nose, cough, and sore throat. The side effects are rare and, if they do occur, they are mild and usually last no more than two days. These side effects are typical indicators that your immune system responds well to the vaccine.
Flu shots are not only safe but proven effective in preventing severe complications from the flu. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu this season. Schedule an appointment with CMCFresno to get your influenza shots. Call (559) 455-1500 or visit our website today.