Guest post from the staff at the American Lung Association, a proud StayWell partner
Fever, cough, chills, sore throat…could it be the flu? Millions of Americans get the flu each year, with a large number ending up in the hospital because of it (710,000 were hospitalized from 2017 to 2018). The contagious respiratory infection affects the entire body and is typically spread when a person coughs or sneezes.
The most effective way to avoid it is to get a flu shot every year. However, there are a few misconceptions about the shot that cause people to skip the important preventative measure. Here’s some fact and fiction about the flu vaccine.
Myth: Influenza is kind of like the common cold. It’s really no big deal.
Fact: Influenza is a severe respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, sometimes even death. Symptoms that lead to hospitalizations often include shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, and ongoing vomiting.
Myth: The flu shot can give you the influenza virus.
Fact: It’s not possible for the shot to spread influenza because it doesn’t contain the live virus. Some people might experience mild soreness, redness, or swelling where it is given. More rare flu shot symptoms include headache or having a low-grade fever.
Myth: I’m healthy and never get sick, so I don’t need to get a flu shot.
Fact: Even people that are extremely healthy and active can get influenza. Serious complications can occur for anyone. Everyone six months and older should get vaccinated as the circulating strains of the virus change each year. Older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and those with certain chronic medical conditions are most at risk.
Myth: The flu shot doesn’t prevent me from getting influenza. What’s the point of getting one?
Fact: Getting a flu shot doesn’t 100% guarantee you won’t get influenza, but it significantly reduces your risk. The flu shot protects you and those around you from several of the common types of influenza. In general the flu vaccine is very effective.
This content was originally published on the ALA website.