Like it or not, flu season is just around the corner. SSM Health at Home can help you get ready by sharing some myths, facts, how’s and why’s of influenza and flu vaccinations.
As most people know, flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It is highly contagious, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Steps you can take to reduce your risk of flu include:
- Avoiding close contact with someone who is sick.
- Staying home when you are sick.
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
- Washing your hands often.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practicing other good health habits, like disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking lots of fluids.
Getting Vaccinated: Myths and Facts
The best and easiest way to defend yourself against flu is to get vaccinated. Here are some myths and facts about vaccination.
Myth: It is recommended that everyone older than six months of age get vaccinated. But what if you were vaccinated last year? Isn’t that good enough?
Fact: “No,” said Julie Hitt, SSM Health at Home’s Director of Xtra Care. “Circulating flu viruses change year to year. It is important to get vaccinated every year to protect against the viruses that may not have been included in the previous years’ vaccines.”
Myth: Once you get flu, you can’t get it again.
Fact: Also false. Again, since flu viruses change every year, it is possible to get flu multiple times. Your natural antibodies that develop against the virus after you’ve had it don’t protect against any new strains of influenza.
Myth: Some people refuse to get vaccinated because they believe the vaccine itself is what gave them the flu.
Fact: Since the viruses in the vaccine are inactivated (killed), it is impossible to get flu from the vaccine alone. While mild fever is one of the possible side effects of the flu shot, people who get true flu-like symptoms after receiving the vaccine likely contracted it for one of the following reasons: they came in contact with the virus during the two week period following the vaccine it takes for the antibodies to develop; the influenza strain they were infected with is one that the seasonal vaccine doesn’t protect against; or because of their age and/or health status they develop less antibodies to the virus.
The Number One Method of Prevention
Why should you even get vaccinated in the first place? It’s a fact that the flu vaccine is still the number one way to prevent getting the virus. Not getting the flu means less days of missed work, less visits to the doctor, and less antiviral medications.
If you do get flu this season, symptoms you may experience include: a fever or feeling feverish/chilled; cough, sore throat or runny nose; muscle, body or headaches and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea, which people often associate with flu, is actually a symptom seen more commonly in children than adults.
Now you know why you should get the vaccine; the next question is where you should get it? SSM Health at Home works with The Alliance to help employers offer worksite flu clinics (see box).
SSM Health at Home provides thousands of shots across Wisconsin every year. We’re happy to help people learn the facts – and avoid the flu.
Latest posts by Julie Hitt
- Influenza (Flu) Vaccination – Know the Facts - September 7, 2014