Have you made plans to get your annual influenza (flu) vaccine? Fall will be here before we know it, and that’s a good time to get the vaccine. It’s usually available in September through the winter months, but some providers are already setting up appointments to administer it. Flu is unpredictable, but the peak of the season is usually in January or February.
Here’s some common myths and facts that may influence your decision to get the vaccine.
Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
Fact: Some people may get a little soreness or redness in the area where the shot was given, but this usually goes away in a day or two. Complications from the flu shot are very rare.
Myth: The flu shot does not work.
Fact: Most of the time, the flu shot will prevent the flu. Studies have shown the effectiveness of flu vaccines ranges from 70 to 90 percent. Getting the vaccine is your best protection against the disease.
Myth: Stomach flu is the same as influenza.
Fact: In reality, there is no such thing as the stomach flu. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are usually caused by a virus, bacteria or parasite. The flu is a respiratory disease, not a stomach or intestinal disease.
Myth: The flu is annoying, but harmless.
Fact: A lot of people think of the flu as just a bad cold, but it’s much worse than that. You will feel terrible! You will probably have congestion, cough, body aches and fever. You may be unable to work. People are hospitalized, and many people have died from influenza. The actual number of flu-related deaths in the past 30 years has ranged from about 3,300 to a high of about 49,000, according to a 2010 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Myth: You can skip years between vaccinations.
Fact: Most vaccines are given once and are effective the rest of your life. The flu vaccine isn’t like that. That’s because flu strains change each year. You need to get a flu vaccine every year.
Myth: Healthy people don’t need to get vaccinated.
Fact: Although young, healthy individuals will probably bounce back from the flu, why should you suffer through it? Another reason to get the flu vaccine is to protect others. If you get sick, your family and friends are more likely to get sick.
Before winter rolls in, please roll up your sleeve for the flu vaccine!
By Kris Ponto, MSN, RN-BC, RAC-CT
Clinical Nurse Consultant