2018-03-14 06:02

AT this time of the year when the flu is rife many people don’t get their flu shot because of myths and misinformation surrounding the vaccine.

We would like to dispel these myths and give you the facts surrounding the flu vaccine.

“It’s not safe to get a flu shot while I’m pregnant...”

Since pregnant women experience changes to their body that may affect their immune system, lungs and heart, they are especially susceptible to getting the flu.

CDC recommends that pregnant women receive a flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy to protect themselves and their newborn babies from flu for up to six months.

“The flu vaccine is only necessary for the old and very young...”

The flu vaccine is for anyone who does not want to be sick with the flu or inadvertently spread the virus to others. CDC recommends annual immunization for all people aged 6 months and older.

“I’m afraid of needles, and flu vaccines are only available in a shot...”

The intradermal flu shot is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot. The nasal spray* flu vaccine (live weakened virus) is cold-adapted and is administered in the nose where the virus can only cause infection at the cooler temperature found in the nose.

“I’m better off taking my chances...”

Getting the flu also means becoming a carrier. Since the flu is highly contagious, with symptoms starting one to four days after the virus enters the body, even the most conscientious person may unknowingly spread the virus.

“I exercise and eat healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated...”

The flu can spread when a sick person coughs, sneezes or talks, and can also be transmitted on surfaces that are touched by both sick and healthy people. Even healthy people can be infected with the flu virus without showing any symptoms.

“Flu shots don’t really work. I got the vaccine and still got the flu...”

The vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the flu by approximately 50 to 60 percent. Vaccine effectiveness is subject to such variables as:

• amount of time between vaccination and exposure to the flu,

• age and health status,

• match between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation.

“It’s too late to get vaccinated. Besides, I got one last year...”

While the end of October and November are the recommended months for vaccination, getting vaccinated later in the season (December-March) can still protect you because flu season often peaks after January and can last as late as May.

“All flu vaccines contain the preservative mercury...”

The majority of single-dose vials and pre-filled syringes of flu shot and the nasal spray* flu vaccine do not contain mercury because they are intended to be used only once.

“There are no flu vaccines made just for seniors...”

There are two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 years of age and older. The high dose vaccine is tailored for adults over 65, and contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot.7 The adjuvanted flu vaccine has an adjuvant added to help enhance immune response in those 65 and older.

“Getting sick with the flu is not that serious...”

According to CDC, since 2012, flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000.3 Flu symptoms, (including fever, headaches, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, extreme tiredness and body aches), can disrupt your work, school and social life for up to two weeks.

“I could get the flu from the flu shot...”

A flu shot will not give you the flu. The viral strains in injectable influenza vaccine have been inactivated, making it biologically unable to cause illness. The viral strains in the nasal spray* vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness.

“I got vaccinated last year. That flu shot should be good for this year too...”

Since the body’s immune response to a flu vaccine declines over time, a yearly vaccine is the best protection. And, because flu viruses are always changing, the strains are reviewed each year and are sometimes revised to keep up with changing flu viruses.


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