There are a lot of misconceptions about the flu shot that keep people from getting the vaccine each year. Be informed before you make your decision.
Influenza is not the same as the stomach flu or a bad cold. It is a respiratory virus and is not something you want to mess with. It will make you feel completely miserable and usually confined in bed for two weeks. People die every year from the flu.
As careful as you may be, you can still catch the flu from airborne particles. If you catch it, antibiotics won’t work because it is a virus. You can treat the symptoms, but it will still take a while to fully heal.
I have been skeptical about the flu shot for years. After doing a lot of research, I have realized the truth behind many of the misconceptions. I am in no way a doctor, but the Center for Disease Control and flu.gov gives a lot of helpful information.
While there are a lot of myths, I think the following three are the most popular and are in need of being corrected.
Myth number one: Getting the vaccine will give you the flu.
The shot has a killed version of the virus so that your body can build up the strength to fight off the illness. There are some small side effects from the shot, but they are minimal compared to the way you would feel if you had the flu.
The nasal spray version of the vaccine does have a live virus, though it is weakened. It is cold-adapted, meaning it only causes a small reaction in the colder places, like the nose. The weakened virus would die by the time it reached the lungs or other warm places.
Myth number two: I’ve gotten the shot before, but I got the flu anyway.
The influenza virus changes every year, and some years the type of virus is stronger than others. The developers do their best to figure out what types will be attacking each year, and sometimes the completed vaccine isn’t a perfect match for the virus.
When this happens, your body will have built up antibodies. Your immune system is stronger than it would have been without getting the shot. If you do get the flu even when you got the vaccine, it won’t be as bad as if you hadn’t gotten the shot.
The vaccine is developed to fight off three, sometimes four types of viruses each season, giving a lesser chance of getting sick. Some years the shot is more effective than others.
Myth number three: I’ve never had the flu before, so I don’t need to start getting the shot now.
We can’t predict the future, which is why we take preventative measures. You wear a seatbelt even when you have never been in an accident, just to keep safe. Vehicle and health insurance are carried even when you don’t use it often.
Getting the flu shot is one of those preventative measures. You may or may not get the flu, though you want to protect yourself to the best of your ability. Even healthy people have caught the flu and gotten sick, or even died.
Everyone 6 months and older, especially those pregnant, the elderly and the disabled, including asthmatic, should get the shot. The immune system is at its peak at early adulthood, but that means we should build it up as much as we can so we can keep running.
After all this research, I know this “high risk” student will be going to get her flu shot this year to be as ready as possible for influenza season.
Prices for the vaccine vary by place and if you have insurance or not. The flu shot at Walgreens costs 32 dollars for the uninsured and less, if anything, for those with insurance. Consider investing in your health and get the shot.