Why get a flu vaccine?

Why get a flu vaccine? Many people put off or avoid getting protected from flu because of misconceptions about the vaccine and about influenza in general. Here are a few common myths, with correct information provided by the CDC about the 2013-2014 flu season so far.

Myth: Only children and seniors are at risk. 
Fact: The flu seems to be hitting young and middle-aged adults the hardest this year, rather than seniors or children, said Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Influenza Division. “The ones that tend to be sick this season are young and otherwise healthy adults,” added Daniel Spogen…board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “If you take a look at the data, the people who are getting sick enough to be hospitalized are the ones who didn’t get their flu shot.”

Myth: The flu is just a bad cold.

Fact: An estimated 6.9 percent of all deaths in the United States this season have been caused by flu or pneumonia — just under the epidemic threshold of 7.1 percent. Ten children have died from the flu so far this season, the CDC said.

Myth: I will get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Fact: The flu shot is a killed vaccine. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Flumist is live-attenuated, meaning it cannot multiply at body temperature. In blind, randomized trials, there was no difference in reported side effects between groups that got the flu shot or salt water, except for some increased redness and arm soreness with the group receiving the flu shot.

Myth: I will get really, really sick after receiving the flu vaccine.
Reactions to the flu shot:
The most common reaction to the flu shot in adults has been soreness, redness or swelling at the spot where the shot was given. This usually lasts less than two days. This initial soreness is most likely the result of the body’s early immune response reacting to a foreign substance entering the body. Other reactions following the flu shot are usually mild and can include a low grade fever and aches. If these reactions occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days. The most common reactions people have to flu vaccine are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu illness.
Reactions to nasal spray flu vaccine:
People also may have mild reactions to the nasal spray vaccine. Some children and young adults 2-17 years of age have reported experiencing mild reactions after receiving nasal spray flu vaccine, including runny nose, nasal congestion or cough, chills, tiredness/weakness, sore throat and headache. Some adults 18-49 years of age have reported runny nose or nasal congestion, cough, chills, tiredness/weakness, sore throat and headache. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of seasonal flu infection.

Myth: I got the flu shot, so I don’t need to do anything else to protect myself from flu.
Fact: The flu is a virus like any other. In cold and flu season, it is important to remember to keep yourself and those around you safe by washing your hands frequently, and covering your mouth and nose with the crook of your elbow rather than hand when you sneeze or cough.

Myth: The flu vaccine doesn’t work, so there’s no point in getting it. 
Fact: The flu changes every year, and researchers start racing each spring to beat its arrival in the West by trying to predict which strains are emerging in the East and making vaccines based on that. It’s not perfect, but after analyzing last year’s flu season data, vaccine effectiveness was estimated at 62%, with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 51% to 71%, according to the CDC. This is much better than the 0% prevention of not immunizing at all!

Myth: Flu season is almost over. It’s too late to get vaccinated. 
Fact: Flu season goes from October through March and typically peaks in December/January. It takes about two weeks for your body to develop protection after being vaccinated, so it is worthwhile to get vaccinated through March. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible, once vaccine becomes available, typically in late summer/early fall.

Myth: I got the flu, so I don’t need to get the flu vaccine. 
Fact: There are multiple strains of flu. Likely you were only infected with one of them. Depending on which form of the vaccine you get, you will receive protection against 3 or 4 types of influenza A and B, including H1N1.

Bee Well Pediatrics stocks Quadrivalent (protects against 4 strains including H1N1) Flumist, appropriate for children age 2 and up without asthma, and Trivalent (protects against 3 strains including H1N1) flu shot, appropriate for children 6 months and older.

Looking for a pediatrician in Westlake Austin TX?  Give us a call, we’d love to speak with you.