September 24, 2020 - 4 min read
Myth-busting: 7 facts about the flu shot
Getting a flu shot is simple enough. If you’re a Blue Shield of California or Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan member, you can get access to flu shots at many convenient, safe locations.
For employers, it’s important to encourage your on-site and remote workers to get their flu shots as soon as possible. This year’s flu season is unlike any in recent history, and the ongoing pandemic poses a unique threat that may have a direct impact on your business operations.
As we enter into what state officials have described as the second wave of the coronavirus, vaccinations against the seasonal flue can help protect the wellbeing of your employees and keep your business up and running this winter and into the new year. While encouraging your employees might seem easy, finding accurate information about the flu shot can be less simple. Get the facts and protect yourself, your employees, your loved ones, and your community this fall.
Myth 1: The flu vaccine can give me the flu
FACT: No matter what type of flu vaccine you receive, it will not give you the flu. Have you ever felt achy or slightly feverish afterward? If so, it’s a normal reaction by the immune system to the vaccine. It normally lasts just a couple of days.
But it’s not the flu.
Flu shots are made with either:
Inactivated (killed) viruses
A single protein from the flu virus
Nasal spray vaccines do contain live viruses. But these are attenuated (weakened) so that they will not cause illness.
Myth 2: The flu shot isn’t safe
FACT: Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu shots over the past 50 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A lot of research supports its safety.
Severe allergic reactions from a vaccine are very rare. They’re estimated at less than one in a million doses. If a reaction were to occur, it would usually be within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
Myth 3: I’m young and healthy – so I don’t need
a flu shot
FACT: The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older (with rare exceptions).
The flu is a contagious disease. Even for generally healthy people, it can lead to:
What’s more, spreading the virus puts children and older adults at risk.
Myth 4: I don’t need a flu shot every year
FACT: Flu viruses are constantly changing. The vaccine that protected you last year, say, isn’t likely to protect you this year. That’s why flu vaccines are typically updated from one year to the next.
Also, the protection a vaccine gives you lessens over time. Getting vaccinated every year in the fall gives you the best protection.
Myth 5: It doesn’t work anyway – I got the shot before and still got the flu
FACT: It’s easy to mistake symptoms from a very bad cold for the flu. The flu vaccine only protects against influenza virus. It does not protect against other respiratory illnesses. It’s also possible you have may have come down with a different strain of the virus not included in the latest vaccine.
You may even have been exposed to the flu virus just before getting the vaccine. And because the vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect, you were probably going to get sick anyway. Even if you do get sick, the severity of your symptoms may be milder and/or the duration of your illness may be shortened.
Myth 6: The flu’s just a bad cold – why do I need a shot?
FACT: Some symptoms of the cold and flu do overlap. Think runny nose, sneezing, and cough.
However, the flu and cold are caused by different viruses. The flu certainly isn’t just a “bad cold.” It’s a serious disease that can cause hospitalization or even death.
During the 2018-2019 flu season, the CDC estimated:
35.5 million people getting sick with the flu
16.5 million people going to a healthcare provider
Myth 7: I can't spread the flu if I’m feeling well.
Actually, 20% to 30% of people carrying the flu virus have no symptoms.
Skipping your flu shot not only puts you at risk but also your family and friends who you may spread it to.
When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu virus can spread through a community. You’re also helping protect those around you who are unable to get a flu shot such as infants.
Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Do your part to help an already stretched healthcare system. Get your flu shot today!
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