When it comes to the flu shot, healthcare providers have heard all the excuses:
“The flu shot gives you the flu.”
“I’m healthy; I don’t need a flu shot.”
“I got it last year.”
“It doesn’t always work.”
Trying to convince patients to get their annual flu shot can be challenging. Here are some flu shot facts to help you meet that challenge and encourage your patients to get vaccinated against the flu.
Can the flu shot give you the flu?
No. Flu vaccines are made with either ‘inactivated’ flu viruses that have been killed and therefore are not infectious, or by using a single gene from a flu virus. The single gene produces an immune response without causing an infection. However, an immune response can cause mild symptoms such as achy muscles or a low-grade fever.
Do healthy people need to get a flu shot?
Yes, even healthy people should get a flu shot. The flu virus can spread quickly from others up to six feet away and even from surface contact. To avoid influenza and to protect yourself and your family, the CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months get the flu vaccine annually.
I got a flu shot last year, why do I need it again?
Flu virus strains change over time, and new vaccines are produced continuously to combat them; that’s why it’s vital to get vaccinated for each flu season. In addition to that, your body’s immune response to vaccines declines over time, so staying current on your vaccines is vital to your health.
The shot doesn’t always work, so why bother?
For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that the vaccine was about 40% effective; however, this number only measures the risk of being diagnosed with the flu, it does not take into consideration how getting the flu shot can reduce the severity of symptoms.
According to Dr. Grein of Cedars Sinai, “data shows that the flu shot not only reduces your risk of getting the flu but can also significantly reduce how sick you get. Overall, people who get the flu shot but still get the flu have shorter symptoms and are much less likely to be hospitalized or suffer serious complications.”
Flu season typically begins in October and peaks between December and February. The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine by the end of October. Use the flu vaccine finder to locate an Immunizer near you.