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 your employees have reservations or have heard rumors about the flu shot, send this handy list to them to ensure they know the facts about getting protected from the flu.
Excuse #1: I've heard you can get the flu from the flu shot.
We hear this one all the time! It’s 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 flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and are therefore not infectious, or with no flu viruses at all.
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 already had the virus in their system.
Excuse #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 highly recommended that you receive the vaccine annually.
Excuse #3: I've heard I can get serious side effects from receiving a flu shot.
This is incredibly rare and a result of serious allergic reactions to the vaccine. If these reactions do occur, it’s 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 injection site. These reactions are typically mild and only lasts less than 48 hours. Other reactions that can occur are also generally mild – like a low grade fever and aches – and usual begin shortly after the shot and last only 1-2 days. It’s important to realize that these common reactions to flu vaccine are much less severe than the symptoms caused by actual influenza.
Excuse #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. Individuals with an egg allergy, moderate-to-severe illness (with or without fever), and those with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness) should first consult their primary physician before opting to receive the vaccine.
Excuse #5: Getting the flu isn't a big deal, so I don't really need the shot.
While many individuals come down with the flu and fully recover, there’s no reason to gamble with your health. Aside from the short-term illness and missing work, the 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). This is why it’s so important to take the flu seriously and get vaccinated every year.
Excuse #6: It's too late to get my flu shot.
We hear this excuse all too often. While we encourage 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.
Excuse #7: I'm pregnant.
We completely understand that you want to put the health of your baby first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put out a great fact sheet about pregnancy and the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is completely safe for pregnant women.
In fact, health experts heavily encourage pregnant women to receive their flu shot because they are at high risk for health complications caused by the flu. If you have any questions or doubts about receiving your shot while pregnant, please consult with your doctor first. Also, always be sure to receive the flu shot and NOT the nasal spray when pregnant.
Excuse #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 co-worker, family member, or friend who is much more vulnerable to the illness. Don't just get the flu shot for your health, but also for those around you.
As you can see, there’s really no valid excuse to skip your annual flu shot this year – especially if your employer is bringing the flu shot to you! Don’t take a gamble on your health.
Are you planning on receiving your annual flu shot this year? Comment below and let us know.
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Editor's note: This blog was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and relevance.
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