It's Flu Season...
Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. It affects the nose, throat and lungs. Different strains spread quickly and easily every year. There are many misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccine. Based on feedback from PANS members, we have put together a list of common myths and misconceptions regarding the flu shot.
I’m healthy, I don’t need an influenza (flu) shot.
Everyone is at risk of getting influenza, even if you are healthy. By getting the flu shot, you are also protecting others around you who may not be as healthy and are more prone to sickness.
Specifically, you are at increased risk if:
- you are under five years of age or over the age of 65
- if you are pregnant
- if you have a chronic condition such as heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, blood disorders, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma and chronic lung disease, neurological disorders, cancer or immune-compromising conditions
- if you are Aboriginal
- if you are a resident of a nursing home or other chronic-care facilities.
I never get sick.
Anyone can be easily exposed to the flu and are susceptible to catching the bug. By getting the flu shot, you are helping to protect yourself and others.
I don’t want to get sick from the flu shot.
The inactivated flu shot does not contain a live virus and cannot cause influenza. The side effects are usually mild, such as soreness where the needle went into the arm and a mild fever or aches for 1-2 days. If you were exposed to the virus prior to receiving the flu shot, the vaccine cannot prevent you from catching the bug but you are less likely to have severe symptoms.
Every time I get the flu shot, I get sick.
The flu shot is effective in preventing four strains of influenza (flu) virus. It does not protect against the common cold or stomach bugs. The "flu" is a virus that causes a high fever, achy joints among other symptoms and can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia. This is the flu that you want to prevent by getting the flu shot.
The flu shot doesn’t work.
All vaccine-preventable diseases have declined in countries that have successful vaccination programs. Vaccines have saved many lives and have reduced morbidity and mortality in adults, children and other vulnerable populations.
Getting the flu shot hurts too much.
Getting the flu shot should only feel like a pinch that lasts a second or two. It is best to eat a snack prior to getting the flu shot and stay relaxed during. If your arm is sore for 1-2 days following the vaccine, that means it's working!
I don’t have time/it’s inconvenient.
It's actually very easy to get your flu shot! The flu shot is offered at your local pharmacy, walk-in or family doctor. Most pharmacies offer a walk-in service for vaccines. It typically runs from October to mid-November, and it only takes a few minutes.
I got a flu shot last year.
The flu shot only lasts up to six months so it is important to keep up with the vaccine yearly to protect yourself. The strains of flu are constantly changing as well, so chances are the strain from the previous year will not be the same.
Pregnant women are encouraged to get the flu shot because they are protecting themselves, others and their baby. It is also highly recommended that breastfeeding mothers receive the flu shot because infants under six months are not able to. The antibodies against the flu shot are transferred through breast milk.
I’m allergic to eggs.
Individuals with an egg allergy may be vaccinated under the publicly funded flu shot program. An allergy test is not required and you are able to receive the full dose. Even if you have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs in the past, you do not need to take extra precautions to get the flu shot. People with an egg allergy, especially those with chronic conditions such as asthma, benefit from receiving the influenza vaccine. The risk of anaphylactic reaction to the flu vaccine is approximately one per one million doses. This is the same as your risk of being hit by lightning. However, it is important to be prepared in this rare event. Pharmacists have the knowledge and skills to respond to an emergency if need be.
The flu shot is too expensive.
Immunization against influenza is publicly funded and recommended to anyone six months and older. It is available to all Nova Scotians at no out-of-pocket cost.
The flu (influenza) can affect many people in different ways. Some may become very ill, some may only be mild cases. Flu symptoms typically appear within 1-4 days after being exposed to the virus, beginning with:
- muscle aches and pains
Other symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
Some people (especially children) may experience:
- nausea and vomiting
The flu can be highly contagious at least one day before the first symptoms and up to five days after the first symptoms.
Share this hashtag and an excuse on social media to raise awareness about the importance of the flu shot! Simply right-click and download the picture to post it, or visit PANS social media to share/retweet/repost.
*Your pharmacist will review a screening form with you prior to your flu shot. Very rarely there may be a valid reason that the flu shot is not right for you. Please ensure you discuss in detail with your health care provider.*