The leaves are starting to change colors and the air feels a bit cooler. Winter is almost upon us, and whether we like it or not, we will soon be pulling out our parkas, scraping our windshields and regretting that we ever prayed for cooler weather.
This cold weather, though, also means that we better prepare our immune systems for yet another flu season. The flu shot, although sometimes not as effective as it should be, comes with some misconceptions: Can’t the flu vaccine actually give me the flu? If I haven’t received the flu this season, shouldn’t I wait to get vaccinated to strengthen my immunity? The following addresses some of these common questions to set straight what is fact from fiction:
- Fact: While flu vaccines can be made with a flu virus, this virus is “inactivated” meaning that it is not infectious. This can sometimes cause misconceptions of believing that the flu shot actually causes a person to have the flu.
- Fiction: If I haven’t received the flu shot this season and still have not become infected, I should hold off on getting the flu shot to strengthen my immunity. Flu activity typically peaks between December and February and can sometimes last until May. Even if you haven’t contracted the flu yet, the CDC still advises getting the vaccine. It’s recommended to get the flu shot in October, but receiving the vaccine in January or February can still protect against infection if the virus is still lurking around.
- Fact: Those who are six months and older should be vaccinated every year. According to the CDC, a person’s immunity from the flu tends to decline over time. It is recommended that vaccinations should occur every year for optimal protection.
Still not sure if you should get vaccinated? Visit the CDC’s website for more answers to your flu vaccine questions.
– Penny Kokkinides