Every flu season, as many as 20 percent of Americans get sick with a virus that causes seriously uncomfortable, even lethal complications. Getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from a totally avoidable illness.
Although we don’t know whether this year’s influenza will be better or worse, make sure you know the truth and how you can reduce your risk. Dr. Xinmeng Zhao, specializing in internal medicine at Florida Hospital Physician Group, discusses four often-repeated flu myths—and facts to set the record straight.
Myth # 1: You can get the flu from the vaccine.
Not true. The fact is the vaccine in flu shots is made with either inactivated viruses or no viruses whatsoever. You may know someone who’s come down with the flu even after being vaccinated, but that’s not because the shot made them sick. Rather, they may have been exposed to the virus before receiving the flu shot—or more likely, they may have contracted a different strain of virus than the three or four types against which the shot provided protection.
Myth #2: Pregnant women shouldn’t get the flu vaccine.
To the contrary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends expectant mothers receive the flu shot to protect themselves and their unborn children. Why? Because the flu is particularly dangerous for women during pregnancy, making them more susceptible to serious illness and putting their babies at greater risk for problems, including being born prematurely.
Myth #3: I’ve already had the flu this year, so I don’t need to be vaccinated.
Sorry, but no. The strain of flu you had earlier may not have been one of the several forms of the virus circulating now. So, your best bet to avoid a second bout with serious illness is still to get the flu shot.
Myth #4: Flu vaccines are for the sick and elderly. I’m young and healthy, so no worries.
Sorry to bust your bubble, but the CDC recommends everyone, ages 6 months and older, receives a seasonal flu shot, with few exceptions. That’s because even the healthiest people can get very sick from the flu—and they can spread it to others for whom the virus is particularly dangerous, like babies and people of all ages with compromised immune systems.
Xinmeng Zhao, DO, specializing in internal medicine
Florida Hospital Physician Group › 2801 SE 1st Ave., Bldg. 300, Suite 302, Ocala › (352) 873-2880 › FHPhysicianGroup.com