Top 5 myths about the flu Vaccine

Question: Do you know the best way to fight the influenza (flu) virus?

Answer: Getting a flu vaccination.

But there are some myths surrounding the flu vaccine. We are here to settle it once and for all so that you can stay as healthy as possible this flu season. Here are five myths about flu vaccinations and the truth behind them.

Myth #1: only people who get sick should get the flu vaccine.

Not true! Actually, anyone over the age of 6 months old should get vaccinated for the flu. Yes, even if you are usually healthy, you should get the flu shot. The flu shot is especially important to:

  • Young children (less than 2 years of age)
  • Pregnant women
  • Senior citizens
  • Children or adults with chronic conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, CHF, congenital heart disease, or COPD)

Myth #2: the flu vaccine can give you the flu.

Not true! The flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. However, it can cause mild side effects that may be mistaken for flu. For example, people who are vaccinated may feel achy or sore. People vaccinated with the nasal spray flu vaccine may have a stuffy nose and sore throat. These side effects are not the influenza virus. If experienced at all, they are mild and last only one to two days.

Myth #3: If you do not get vaccinated and get the flu, you will recover quickly.

Not necessarily! Influenza can be serious and anyone can become sick with flu and experience serious complications. But even if you bounce back quickly, others around you might not be so lucky. Older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with serious medical conditions are at especially high risk for the flu. Even active, healthy adults can get very sick and spread it to others. Some people can also have the flu and show no symptoms. You do not want to be the one spreading the flu to those you care about.

Myth #4: you do not need the flu vaccine if it does not affect your community.

Not true! It is best to get vaccinated before the flu begins to spread. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to provide full protection, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the more likely it is that you will be fully protected once flu begins to circulate in your community.

Myth #5: you are completely safe from the flu after you get a flu shot.

Not necessarily! Even if you get a flu vaccine, there are several reasons why you might still get the flu or flu-like symptoms:

  • You were exposed to the flu before you were vaccinated.
  • You were exposed to the flu before the vaccine took effect.
  • You may have been exposed to an influenza virus that was very different from the viruses included in that year’s vaccine.
  • How well the flu vaccine works can range from season to season and can also vary depending on who is being vaccinated.

Along with getting a flu vaccination, try these methods to help fight the flu:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with others who may be sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Be healthier: eat more leafy greens, exercise regularly, and get seven to eight hours of sleep.
Prevention is key. Getting a flu shot along with the good health habits above will give you the best chance of not getting the flu.

Get Ahead of Flu Season

Now that we have debunked the myths, you know why it is important to get a flu vaccination. Flu vaccines are available at Optum or an Urgent Care Center near you. You can receive a vaccination during an appointment, a walk-in visit, or at a drive-through flu clinic. Ask your Optum staff for more details.

Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and Office of Health Communication Sciences