Flu season is right around the corner, and the Sona team is busy vaccinating!
While we are believers in the importance of getting your flu shot each year, we understand that many of our patients may have concerns.
In this blog, we aim to dispel some of the most common myths about influenza and the flu shot:
Myth #1: Getting the flu shot can give me the flu.
While it is true that the flu vaccine contains parts of the flu virus, getting a flu shot cannot give you the flu.
The parts of the virus contained in the flu shot are either inactivated (killed) or use only a single gene from the virus and are unable to cause infection.
Most reactions from the flu are very mild, and may include tenderness, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Some people do experience low-grade fever, headache, or muscle aches, but these are usually mild and subside within 48 hours.
(It is worth noting that the flu shot takes about 2 weeks to reach its full protective effect. Some people may get sick with the flu during this time and mistakenly attribute their symptoms to the flu shot.)
Myth #2: Flu shots are unsafe for children.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months of age get a flu shot.
Children are particularly susceptible to dangerous complications from the flu, which may lead to hospitalization or even death. The flu shot has been shown to reduce flu-associated hospitalizations and deaths in children.
At Sona, our pharmacists are able to vaccinate children age 10 years and older without a prescription. We can also vaccinate children age 6-9 years with a prescription from the doctor.
Myth #3: Flu shots contains dangerous ingredients.
Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative contained in flu shot multi-dose vials. Preservatives are used to keep the flu shot vial from getting contaminated.
The thimerosal in flu vaccines is an extremely small amount, and has been shown to be very safe in several studies. There is no evidence to suggest a link between thimerosal and autism in children.
Formaldehyde is used to kill toxins in the flu vaccine and is highly diluted. The amount of formaldehyde is very low compared to the amount that is already naturally in the body and is considered safe.
Myth #4: The flu isn’t that serious, so I don’t need a flu shot.
The flu can be very dangerous, especially in young children, older adults, and those with chronic health conditions.
Complications can include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and dehydration.
For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC reported 959,000 hospitalizations, and nearly 80,000 flu-related deaths. 70% of these hospitalizations were older adults, and almost 50,000 were children.
Getting your flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and prevent these complications.
Myth #5: The flu shot isn’t very effective at preventing the flu, so it doesn’t matter whether I get one or not.
The effectiveness of the flu shot changes each year, but typically it is around 30-40% effective at preventing the flu.
Even if the flu shot does not completely prevent someone from getting the flu, it can reduce the duration of the illness and the severity of symptoms.
Myth #6: I cannot get the flu shot because I am pregnant.
The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive the flu shot, even pregnant women.
The flu shot is safe for pregnant women and will help protect you and your baby.
Myth #7: I should wait until November or December to get my flu shot, so my immunity won’t wear off too soon.
The CDC recommends everyone get their flu shot by the end of October. Although flu season peaks between December and February, flu outbreaks can start as early as October.
Myth #8: If I have not gotten my flu shot by December, it is too late.
Even when flu season has already started, there is still benefit to getting your flu shot. Flu activity can last as late as May!
Myth #9: If I am over age 65 and the high-dose “senior” flu shot is out of stock at my pharmacy, I should wait to get my flu shot.
The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age get a flu shot each year, but they do not specify which flu shot.
If you are over age 65 and the high-dose flu shot is not available, it is better to get the regular dose flu shot than waiting for the high-dose shot.
However, if you prefer to receive the “senior” flu shot, we will certainly do our best to accommodate you!
Myth #10: I need written medical permission from my doctor before getting a flu shot.
There is no recommendation for people, even pregnant women or those with chronic medical conditions, to get special permission from their doctor before getting the flu shot.
If you currently have a fever, you should wait until you feel better before getting the flu shot. Keep in mind that the sniffles or mild common cold don’t count — if you are well enough to leave the house, you should be okay to get your flu shot!
Those with a rare health condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome should consult their doctor before getting a flu shot.
We hope you found this blog post helpful. Please be sure to stop by Sona and get your flu shot today!