We've had years of experience holding flu shot clinics and have heard every excuse in the book for skipping out on your yearly vaccine. If you or a coworker have reservations or have heard rumors about the flu shot, send this handy list to them to ensure they know the facts about being protected from the flu.
1.) I've heard you can get the flu from the flu shot.
We hear this all the time and it is by far the most widely spread misconception about the vaccine. Flu shots are currently made in one of two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu viruses at all (ex. recombinant influenza vaccine). It's scientifically impossible to get the flu from a flu vaccine. In addition to this, the shot does not offer instantaneous protection, but rather takes a week or two to kick in. Therefore, anyone who comes down with an influenza virus right after getting the shot was going to get sick anyways.
2.) I don't need to get the flu shot every year.
The most common strains of the influenza virus change and mutate from year to year, and each year the vaccine is formulated for the strains that are most likely to cause a virus. Since the flu shot isn't the exact same from one year to the next, it's recommended that you receive the vaccine annually.
3.) I've heard I can have serious side effects as a result of getting a flu shot.
This is incredibly rare and a result of serious allergic reactions to the vaccine. If these reactions do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. While these reactions can be life-threatening (as with any allergic reaction), effective treatments are available.
The most common side effect to the flu shot in adults has been soreness, redness or swelling at the spot where the shot was given, typically lasting less than two days. Other reactions that can occur are generally mild and can include a low grade fever and aches, usually beginning soon after the shot and lasting 1-2 days. These common reactions to flu vaccine are much less severe than the symptoms caused by actual influenza.
4.) I'm not eligible receive the flu shot.
This is likely false; almost everyone who wants a flu shot is candidate. The only individuals who should not be vaccinated are children under 6 months of age and anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to the influenza vaccine. People with an egg allergy, moderate-to-severe illness (with or without fever) and people with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness) should first consult their primary physician before opting to receive the vaccine.
5.) Getting the flu isn't a big deal, so I don't really need the shot.
While many individuals can come down with the flu and fully recover, there is no reason to gamble with your health. Aside from the short-term illness and missing work, flu can have very serious consequences. Seasonal influenza is responsible for hospitalizing 200,000 people in the U.S. each year and killing between 3,000 and 49,000 people (more than double the number of people killed by AIDS). Take the flu shot seriously and get vaccinated every year.
6.) It's too late to get my flu shot.
We hear this excuse often. While we encourage all of our clients to book early for the best pricing and availability, we have held flu shot clinics as late as December. Flu season peaks in January or February of each year and can continue all the way through May, so there's no reason why you wouldn't want to receive the benefits of the vaccine even if it's late in the year.
7.) I'm pregnant.
We completely understand that you want to put the health of your baby first. The CDC has put out a great fact sheet about pregnancy and the flu vaccine, and we often direct our pregnant participants to do the research first before opting to take the shot. (Just be sure you're going to get the flu shot and NOT the nasal spray.)
8.) I'm really healthy and don't need it.
Even if you're absolutely sure you'd be able to recover from the influenza virus, about 20-30% of people with the flu don't show any symptoms. As a result, you could pass along the virus to a coworker, family member or friend that is much more vulnerable to the illness. Don't just get the flu shot for your health, but also for those around you.
Did you get the flu shot last year? Will you get it again this year? Comment below and let us know.