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Flu shot: do i or don't I get it?

It’s That Time of the Year: Sharing the Myths and Facts about Flu to Help You Make an Informed Decision

The flu season is just around the corner, and you can expect to hear plenty about the flu and flu vaccine especially this 2020 season.

In this COVID environment healthcare professionals all over the country are recommending patients to get immunized and keep hospital beds free for COVID and other medical emergencies. 

Nonetheless, it is still a very valid concern to many whether they get the flu vaccine or not.  There are plenty of rumours each year that frighten or turn people off from getting the flu vaccine.

So let’s share some of the more common myths and facts about influenza and influenza immunization.

Myth #1: Influenza is not a serious illness, it’s like a cold.

Fact: In years when influenza is widespread in our province, hundreds of people may die from the flu itself or its complications, such as pneumonia. Particularly in those over 65 years or high risk groups.

Myth #2: Can the vaccine give you the flu?

Fact: No, the inactivated flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. These vaccines contain dead viruses which are incapable of starting an infection. However, they are ideal for teaching your body to build immunity without infecting you.

Myth #3: If I got the flu vaccine last year, I am still protected this year.

Fact:  Every February, members of the World Health Organizations (WHO) gather together to assess international infection data and determine which strains of influenza will go into the vaccine.  There are MANY strains but only a few can go into a vaccine any given year.  It’s challenging to predict in February which strains will soon get to go into production to have a vaccine ready for October of the same year.   Sometimes in that gap of time, a virus can mutate and then make the predicted vaccine less effective. Furthermore, viruses can mutate over time, making some vaccinations less effective than anticipated. 

Because the influenza virus strains change most years, you need to get immunized each year to be protected against the new and current strains.

Myth #4: I had the flu shot last year, but I still got the flu.

Fact: There are many different types of viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms any time of the year, but these are not actually the influenza virus.

The influenza vaccines protect against the strains of influenza viruses that health experts think will likely cause influenza during the current flu season. The vaccines do not protect against other viruses that cause similar illnesses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or parainfluenza. 

In elderly people and people who have certain chronic health conditions, the vaccines may not prevent influenza completely but may decrease symptoms, complications and the risk of death from influenza.

Myth #5: The influenza vaccines protect against the viruses or bacteria that cause colds or stomach illnesses.

Fact: Influenza vaccines do not protect against the viruses or bacteria that cause colds or stomach illnesses, often called the stomach flu. The influenza virus is very different and typically causes more severe illness than the common cold or the stomach flu. Influenza vaccines only protect against the viruses that cause influenza.

Myth #6: I should not get an influenza vaccine because I have allergies.

Fact: Most people with allergies can get an influenza vaccine without any problems. However, if you have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine or any part of the vaccine, talk to your health care provider. You may need to be tested for allergies before being immunized. People with egg allergies can be safely immunized with an influenza vaccine.

Myth #7: Pregnant mothers should not get the vaccine.

Fact: The inactivated influenza vaccine or flu shot is considered safe at any stage of pregnancy. Women in the second half of pregnancy are at higher risk of hospitalization due to influenza, especially those in the third trimester. As well, women at any stage of pregnancy who have chronic medical conditions are also at higher risk of serious influenza complications and should be immunized.

Myth #8: I am a nursing mother and should not get an influenza vaccine.

Fact: It is safe for babies to breastfeed after mothers receive the influenza vaccine.

The flu vaccine is one of the greatest tools in our tool box for helping to prevent influenza. Not only are you minimizing your risk of getting sick, but you are also protecting loved ones around you and those more vulnerable than perhaps yourself  (e.g. infants, elderly, immunocompromised) from being exposed to the virus.  

If you are wanting more information or to book an appointment with one of our pharmacist please call the store of your choice OR download our APP for iPhone & Android and book from there at the selected store.


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