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The yearly influenza (or flu) immunization is starting to crop up at the peak of cold and flu season once again. This immunization is covered by insurance and available for a nominal fee at various retail walk-in clinics and health fairs for the underinsured/uninsured. However, the immunization still leaves a short percentage of society iffy: “I can’t afford to take off of work. Can I still get the flu? How safe is it?”
Baring the same thoughts in mind, I decided to put this post into the knowledgeable hands of guest poster, Allison Clayton, an infection prevention liason working in a major metropolitian hospital, sees it first-hand and has volunteered to put her hands first to provide helpful information on the cold and flu season for readers.
Flu Season is upon us
Flu season is upon us and there is virtually no reason to protect yourself via a flu vaccination. People will make up a myraid of excuses not to do so. Working in the Department of Infection Prevention and Control at a major metropolitian hospital, I certainly know the scoop when it comes trying to stop the flu in its tracks! Let us touch upon some of the reasons people refuse vaccinations and debunk some myths.
“The flu shot gave me the flu.”
Impossible! In order to create the appropriate flu vaccine each season, common dead (inactivated) stands of influenza compose the vaccine. Dead influenza cannot beget live influenza, can it? It is common however, for some people to get a reaction through the vaccine itself. That includes pain in the injection site and mild cold-like symptoms (e.g: fever). This is common with any vaccine.
On the off-chance you do come down with the flu after receiving a vaccination, one of two things may have occurred:
- There is an approximate two week period in which the vaccine takes effect. If you obtain a strand of the flu shortly before getting vaccinated or in the two weeks prior to immunity setting in, yes, you can get the flu.
- Through research and knowledge, certain dead flu strands are added to the vaccine every year. (e.g: Since the H1N1 strand was prevalent in years past, it is currently added. However, due to seasonal mutations and not being able to predict the future, some flu strands may not be covered in any given year’s vaccine. If H1N1 was not added to the vaccine this year, for example, but a strand was floating around and a vaccinated person obtained it, yes, it is possible they may get the flu.
The point is clear, however, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot itself!
“I do not like vaccinations.”
For a majority of you, that is no longer a valid excuse. An intranasal form of the flu vaccine can be given to those (under the age of 50 and in good health) who do not prefer vaccinations or may have an egg allergy. (Traditional flu vaccine is grown in an egg protein base.)
“I never had the flu!”
Well, I’ve never been in a car accident, but I still wear my seatbelt to protect myself just in case! It was not until five years ago that I got the flu shot annually. As someone that is immuno-compromised, it is important for me. Complications from the flu have the potential to leave me hospitalized. I want to protect myself as best as I can. Others should consider this as well. Prior to getting regular vaccinations, I could get the same. I never got the flu. Honestly, it was sheer luck. Nobody is naturally immune. It is important to remember that.
Another important note: Getting the flu shot is important to your own health, it is also important to the health of others. Protecting yourself helps reduce the risk of transmitting it to those around you via droplet transmission. (e.g: coughing and sneezing)
All of this being said, it is up to you to decide whether getting the vaccine is actually worth it. Consider what I have discussed in this post but remember: questions about the vaccine and how its benefits/risks pertain to you should be discussed with your healthcare professional.
Thank you, and I wish you good health!