Flu Shot Myths
With flu season rapidly approaching, many will choose to skip getting a shot because of advice they've heard from friends or read online. The truth is that the flu can be deadly for some people, so it's vital that you get vaccinated. To help you distinguish between facts and fiction, below are five common myths you may have heard and the actual facts supported by science.
Myth 1: You Can Catch the Flu from A Flu Shot
This is a common misconception many people have about vaccines, and it is understandable to a degree. When you are vaccinated, you are injected with a small amount of the particular disease and your immune system works to build a stronger immunity to it. People are led to believe that they will catch the flu from the vaccine itself which is not the case. With the flu vaccine, you are injected with an inactive strain of the virus, so it is biologically unable to cause illness. If you receive the nasal spray variant, the viral strains are weakened but do not cause severe flu-like symptoms.
Myth 2: You Don’t Need a Flu Shot Every Year
Once you receive the vaccine you’re set for life, right? Wrong. The influenza virus is continually mutating from year to year, so it's essential that you're vaccinated each year. Much like you would update your smartphone to the latest software, you need to do the same with your immune system. In addition to the virus mutating, your body’s immune system will have less of a response to the flu vaccine over time. Receiving the latest and greatest flu vaccination is your best defense against the flu.
Myth 3: You’re Better Off Taking Your Chances
Many people skip the flu vaccination because they think that their immune system is robust and on the off-chance they'll get sick they can just power through this. While this may seem like the selfless, heroic choice, you're really doing more damage than good. When you get the flu, it affects more than just yourself. Once the virus is in your system, you become a carrier for it, spreading it in the air when you cough, and on every doorknob or handrail, you touch. The flu is highly contagious, and the symptoms don't usually show for up to four days after its entered the body. Be mindful of others and don't unknowingly spread the virus to those that aren't healthy enough to tough it out.
Myth 4: The Flu Isn’t That Serious
While the flu might not seem severe to those with healthy immune systems, the flu can be very deadly to many people, especially the very young and old. In fact, the CDC estimates there have been 12,000 to 56,000 flu-related deaths since 2012. That's serious. Even if your immune system is resilient, the flu can still put you on the sidelines for up to two weeks. Do you really want to miss work, school, or social activities because of the flu? If not, make sure you get vaccinated.
Myth 5: You Can Only Be Vaccinated in the Fall
Many people associate flu season with winter which is fairly accurate since the virus tends to spread most during the cold months but the official flu season usually runs from October all the way until May. There isn't a correct time you should be vaccinated, just as long as you are immunized before you contract the virus so if you decide to get vaccinated in March, you're still protected from the flu for the remainder of the season. Now that we've separated facts from fiction and you have the right information make sure that you go out and get your vaccination! Even if you think you're healthy and your immune system will fight it off, it's better to be safe than sorry and prepare yourself for flu season!