Get the Facts About Flu Shots

Myth #1: If I get the flu shot, I will get the flu.

FACT: This is the most persistent myth about the flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “A flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are given with a needle (flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been killed (inactivated) and are therefore not infectious, or b) with proteins from a flu virus. Nasal spray vaccine is made with weakened live flu viruses, and also cannot cause flu illness.

Myth #2: I didn’t get around to getting the flu shot until late in last year’s flu season, so I won’t need it at all this year.

FACT: Because the flu virus changes from year to year, the vaccine changes with it. Therefore, every year it is different than previous year. That means no matter how late you received your flu shot last year, you need it again this year.

Myth #3: I really don’t need a flu shot every year.

FACT: Much like myth #2, this is fiction. Because the flu shot is referred to as a “vaccine,” people sometimes think they are safe getting it only every few years. This is not true. The vaccine changes each year to target strains that are projected to be problems for that year. It is not like the shingles or pneumonia vaccines that last longer.

Myth #4: If I get my flu shot too early (for example, in September or early October), it won’t protect me for the whole flu season.

FACT: This is another myth. The flu shot is generally very effective for one full year from the time you receive it. It is important to get it early so you are protected from early outbreaks of the flu.

Myth #5: I have to go to my doctor’s office for the flu shot or Medicare won’t pay for it.

FACT: If the healthcare provider you want to get your flu shot from accepts Medicare, there is no cost to you to get it. You don’t have to go to your physician’s office.

Myth #6: I can’t spread the flu if I don’t have any symptoms.

FACT: This is another popular and potentially dangerous myth. It is why it is so important for caregivers and family members of older adults to get their flu shot each year. Experts predict 20–30% of those who carry the flu virus don’t show any symptoms.

If your senior loved one is still resistant to receiving a flu shot after getting the facts, these statistics might change their mind. According to the CDC, between 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.

Source: Harvard Health Publishing | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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