December 2-8, 2018, marks the annual National Influenza Vaccination Week. Here are 5 things to know about getting your flu shot.
1. What is the flu?
Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness
that infect the nose, throat, and occasionally the lungs. It can cause minor to severe illness and can sometimes lead to death. The best method of protection is to get a flu vaccine each year. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.
2. Who should get the flu shot?
The CDC recommends
everyone 6 months and older receive a vaccination. The vaccine does not take effect immediately; it takes about 2 weeks for an immune system to develop the antibodies after receiving the injection. In order to optimize the protection offered by the flu vaccine, the CDC recommends people receive the shot by the end of October, before the season reaches its peak.
3. Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?
No, this is a myth
. Flu vaccines are not made with live strains of the virus, so patients cannot get sick from the vaccination. If a person contracts the flu after already receiving the vaccination, it is either from a different strain of the virus, or the person was already infected prior to receiving the vaccine.
4. What if I don't want to be vaccinated?
A new study
from the University of Chicago found that 41% of adults have not received their flu vaccine this year and don’t plan to. This statistic is surprising, as nearly 80,000 people were killed during last year’s flu season, making it the deadliest in decades. The study found that people over the age of 60 reported the highest vaccination rate, while those under the age of 45 were the least likely to be vaccinated. According to the poll, 39% of adults with children under the age of 18 reported that they don’t plan to vaccinate their children during this flu season either.
This hurts “herd immunity” significantly, as widespread vaccination helps to protect vulnerable groups who are unable to be vaccinated. “That community immunity is what we want to take home today; 80,000 deaths last year and they all got the flu from someone else,” said Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
5. Where can I get vaccinated?
If an individual has significant health issues or a severe allergy to eggs (as some versions of the flu vaccine are developed in eggs), the safest place
to get vaccinated is at their healthcare provider’s office. However, flu vaccines are also available at pharmacies, walk-in clinics, grocery store clinics, and hospitals.