Each year, 5 to 20 percent of Americans contract the flu virus, and 200,000 are hospitalized due to complications. Despite the number of people who fall victim to the flu each season, some Americans still hesitate to receive the vaccine. For many, the hesitation comes from misperceptions regarding vaccination side effects and effectiveness. To ensure you understand the real risks and rewards, learn the facts regarding the flu vaccine and how it can protect you from contracting the illness this flu season.
Myth: Receiving the flu vaccine can give you the flu.
Perhaps the most common misperception, receiving a flu vaccine has not been proven to cause the flu.
Fact: Side effects may occur after receiving the flu vaccine.
Vaccine side effects may include soreness at the injection site, redness, swelling, low-grade fever, and headache.
Myth: Only adults should receive the flu vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone six months old and older should receive an annual flu vaccine. Vaccinations are particularly important for those at high risk for serious flu complications, such as the elderly, and those with compromised immune symptoms.
Fact: Some may be susceptible to allergens in the flu vaccine.
Some may experience life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or its ingredients, which include eggs, gelatin, and antibiotics. Talk to your doctor if you have any allergies. He or she will be able to tell you if the flu vaccine is right for you.
Myth: There is only one flu vaccine appropriate for all ages.
There are different types of flu vaccinations and strengths. Your doctor will tell you which version of the vaccine is right for you. A high dose flu vaccination is available for those age 65 and older. It is recommended that adults younger than 65 should not get the high-dose flu shot or the flu shot with adjuvant. Those younger than 18 or older than 64 years old should not get the intradermal flu shot.
Fact: The CDC recommends the injectable flu vaccination.
The CDC recommends that during the 2016 to 2017 season, individuals should receive an injectable flu vaccine. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended during 2016 to 2017.
Myth: It’s better to get the flu than the flu vaccine.
The flu virus may cause severe complications and health risks, especially among the elderly, children, and those with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. Getting vaccinated is a safer choice.
Fact: It is best to receive a vaccine every year.
The CDC recommends receiving the flu vaccine annually for those six months old and older. An individual’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, making annual vaccination the best way to protect against the complications of the flu.
Myth: Getting vaccinated twice offers added protection against the virus.
Studies have not shown any added benefits or effectiveness when adults receive more than once dose of the influenza vaccine. This is also true among those with weakened immune systems, or the elderly.
Receiving an annual flu vaccine has been proven to be the best way to protect yourself against the complications of the flu. Talk to your doctor today about the risks and rewards of receiving the flu vaccine, and make the decision that is right for you.