The signs are everywhere — at drug stores, at your doctor’s office, at schools, at workplaces, all encouraging you to get a flu shot. Ubiquitous but often misunderstood, the flu vaccine is an important tool for helping to avoid seasonal illness. During last year’s flu season, flu shots prevented 79,000 flu hospitalizations and 6.6 million flu-related illnesses, but a recent CDC report showed that less than half of all Americans have had their flu shot this year. What’s keeping you from getting your flu shot?
“It’s too late.” No, it’s not! Flu season may start in the fall, but it peaks in January or February, and it can last until May. There is plenty of time to protect yourself and get the benefits of the vaccine.
“I’ll get the flu from it.” This is untrue — a flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. You may experience mild side effects from the vaccine, such as soreness at the site of the injection or a stuffy nose or irritated throat from a nasal spray vaccine, but you won’t get the flu from the vaccine.
If you get the flu immediately after having a flu shot, it’s possible that you got a strain of the flu that wasn’t included in the vaccine or that you were exposed to the flu before your body could use the vaccine to build up its own immunity.
“I never get sick” or “I never get the flu.” Even if you have a very strong immune system and seemingly never get sick — or are only mildly sick for a short time, the vaccine can still help to protect those around you. Infants, small children, and elderly friends or family members may not have such a strong ability to fight off illness.
It’s time to stop making excuses — get your flu shot today!