Six myths about the flu and the flu vaccine

By Kelly DerCola, MD  |  12/5/2014

Misguided advice, myths and inaccuracies have steered some individuals away from the facts about the flu and the flu vaccine. The truth is, the flu shot is your best bet for avoiding influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated.

Here are six flu myths:

  1. The flu is something only the frail and elderly need to worry about. The CDC reports that last year about 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations involved people 18 to 64 years old. Most people who get the flu recover just fine, but the flu can be serious for anyone, not just for the young and old.
  2. If I get the flu, I’ll just stay away from my family. Keeping your germs to yourself is important. However most people are contagious one day before they show any sign or symptoms that they have the flu. That means you may spread your virus to someone else before you even know you are sick. Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect your family, coworkers and community. 
  3. The flu shot is not safe for children. Besides, they are healthy and will recover quickly. More than 105 children died from the flu during the 2012-13 influenza season, according to the CDC. Ninety percent of the children who died from the flu were not vaccinated and a little less than half of them had no recognized chronic health problem. 
  4. I was vaccinated, but I still caught the flu. You may have been already sick with the flu before you were vaccinated. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu. Or, maybe you were sick with a cold with symptoms similar to the flu. 
  5. I’ll get my flu shot later, when I have time. Last year, influenza-like-illness began increasing in mid-November, and peaked by late December. It’s not smart to wait. There have already been cases reported in New York state and our region.
  6. If I get the flu shot each year, my body won’t learn to fight off the germs on its own. Vaccination involves giving the body killed germs to allow the body to “practice” making the right kinds of antibodies against the germ. It’s the best kind of immunity you can have.

Get your flu shot at a Health Quest Urgent Care center or call to make an appointment with Dr. Dercola by calling HQMP Connect at (888) 525-HQMP (4767).

Previously published in the River Chronicle.
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