It’s the season of flu shots, and every year, the same debates rage over medical science and who should or shouldn’t get a flu shot. Let’s dispel some of those myths now!
The Flu Shot Gives Me the Flu!
False. There is no live virus in the flu shot, and it’s impossible to get the flu from the flu shot. Unfortunately, many people mistake correlation for causation – this time of year is when most people will catch a flu on their own. You often carry the flu around before getting the shot, because the times that we recommend it are often the times we are exposed. While some rare cases exist of people suffering aches, pains, and flu symptoms, it is not the flu, nor can you get complications like the flu from it.
I Don’t Need It! I Never Get Sick!
False. Congratulations! You may have the immune system of an ox, but that often means you are an asymptomatic carrier. That means you can spread an illness without actually getting sick. Hurray for you – but less hurray for the immunocompromised or even average person exposed to you. Remember that everything you touch and interact carries your germs. That elderly woman at your office or your mail carrier’s child are still exposed to whatever you’re carrying.
I Have Skin Reactions to the Flu Shot!
True! While most of the population can have a flu shot with nothing more than sore arm muscles, there are some people who have a skin reaction at the site of the injection. That may be uncomfortable, but it isn’t life threatening, and the flu can be. If you believe that you have a severe reaction to the shot which warrants skipping it, consult a doctor and find out the real risks to you and others.
But No One Dies from the Flu!
False. While fatalities from the flu are rare, they unfortunately strike the most vulnerable populations the hardest. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and children are the most likely to succumb to the flu. The best defense against flu complications and severe illness caused by the flu is a strong herd immunity.
Herd Immunity? Doesn’t That Mean I Don’t Need It?
False. Herd immunity is based on the percentage of the population that has taken a vaccine. The more people opt out, the weaker the herd immunity. Relying on herd immunity when you don’t have to is likely to result in a lowered immunity for everyone.
Please reach out to your primary care physician today to get your flu shot or explore the options available to you. If you have concerns, follow up with them on whether or not the flu shot is right for you – and everyone exposed to you.