Beat the Flu, Give It a Shot
Millions of people get the flu every year, several thousand are hospitalized, and manythousands die from flu-related issues. Getting your flu vaccination can help keep you safe from this potentially-serious virus. But people still find excuses to not get the shot.
“In today’s environment, with so much access to information, people believe everything they hear and read,” warns Millennium Physician Group Family Medicine Physician Frank Sirchia, M.D. “I advise my patients to get the pros and cons from a good source before making up their mind about getting the flu vaccine.”
Dr. Sirchia sets the record straight on some common flu vaccine myths:
You can get the flu from the flu shot.
“Absolutely not,” confirms Dr. Sirchia. ”You will not catch the flu from the flu shot.” The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection.
I got the flu shot, but still got sick, so why bother?
“It takes the flu virus a week to 10 days to get in your system, so if you were exposed before your vaccine, you still may get sick,” explains Dr. Sirchia. “But I can assure you that you would’ve been much sicker without the vaccine.”
It’s too early (or too late) to get the flu shot.
It takes about three weeks after vaccination for you to develop the antibodies that protect you from the flu, so you should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses start spreading in your community. Dr. Sirchia recommends getting it at the end of September or early October. “Look at when people get sick, it’s during the holidays when people are gathering and travelling,” he explains. “Make sure you’re protected before then.” The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October but states that vaccinations can be effective even into the most active part of the flu season.
The flu vaccine increases your risk of getting COVID-19.
“This doesn’t even make any sense,” he says. “In fact, if you do get infected with the flu, it weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to any sickness, not just COVID-19. Getting a flu shot helps keep your system strong.”
Flu vaccinations are a good example of how misconceptions and misinformation can get in the way of good medicine. The bottom line is, flu vaccinations can prevent you from getting the flu and will reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get sick. “Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool,” admits Dr. Sirchia. “But it is the best way to protect against it.”
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