It’s no secret that we are currently in the infamous “Flu Season.” Every clinic, including the on-campus Lancer Wellness Center, has been advertising free flu shots. Additionally, this week is National Influenza Vaccination Week.
Based on the fact that there is a week set aside in honor of the flu vaccination, I assume that it’s a big deal. I understand, however, that although it is very urgent for everyone to get a flu shot, some are hesitant due to the common misconceptions of receiving the vaccine and of getting the flu.
Consider this an episode of ‘Mythbusters’ because we are going to examine the truth of the flu and the flu shot!
Here are a few things people believe:
1. ‘If I get the shot, I’ll get the flu.’
2. ‘The nasal spray could give me the flu too.’
3. ‘The flu can’t be that bad, so I’ll just deal with getting it.’
4. ‘I’ve never gotten the flu shot in the past, so I’m scared to get it now.’
5. ‘I’ve already gotten the flu earlier this year, so I probably won’t get it again.’
And aside from all of these beliefs, there has also been a concern for the link between getting a flu shot and autism.
Now, I have never gotten the flu, nor have I ever been vaccinated for the flu, so I basically have no personal experience regarding side effects of the flu shot or how bad the flu is. However, there are wonderful online sources that ‘debunk’ these myths, so let’s get to it!
Because many vaccinations are basically a toned down version of the virus injected into someone’s body so his or her immune system is able to fight that particular virus, the thought that the flu virus is being placed into a person’s immune system sounds legitimate. And who in the right mind would willing have the flu injected into their body? The flu shot and the nasal spray have either a weakened or inactive flu virus. Some flu shots don’t even have the virus at all, so worst case scenario, side effects could be a sore arm from the shot, a slight cold, a headache, maybe a slight fever…but it’s highly unlikely.
I know the side effects don’t sound appealing whatsoever, but based on what I’ve read about the flu, I think I’d rather deal with getting the shot and chancing it with the side effects. Here are a few mild flu symptoms, a runny nose, weakness, nausea, vomiting, possibly even diarrhea. Sometimes the flu can be severe enough to the point that you experience difficulty breathing, severe vomiting, seizures… yeah, those side effects are definitely sounding a lot better now.
If you’ve never gotten a flu shot in the past and haven’t gotten the flu, maybe the flu shot isn’t for you. On the contrary, if you’ve never been vaccinated and experience flu-like symptoms frequently (especially around flu season), maybe you could try it out. Read up on the vaccine and the flu and decide from there.
There are two types of influenza that go around during the flu season, Type A and Type B. If you already got the flu, you could possibly get the other type in the same season. It is also possible that you won’t get the flu again. Keep in mind, however, that it is better to be safe than sorry. Consult your doctor and articles about the flu and flu shots and whether it’s right for you!
There has been speculation in the past that getting a flu shot is linked to autism. This speculation was based on an ingredient that was once included in the vaccine, thimerosal. This was used as a preservative in vaccines to keep bacteria and fungi from forming. People believed that exposure to thimerosal caused autism because there is a type of mercury in it (but it’s different from methyl mercury, which is detrimental to cognitive development). Many studies have been done, and they discovered that this ingredient had nothing to do with autism, but they still decided to remove it from the vaccine to be completely safe.
Although many doctors along with the CDC recommend that you get a flu shot for your safety, keep in mind that some people do well with the flu shot, and some do just fine without it. Getting or not getting the flu shot is up to your own discretion. But make sure you are at least making an educated decision. And so…for your education…
Links and Resources about the Flu Shot
Marketing & Social Media Intern