Runny nose, uncontrollable cough, pounding head, and fever chills up and down your body. These are all symptoms of influenza, better known as the flu. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Influenza is serious, and we recommend everyone gets vaccinated. It is the best way to prevent yourself from coming down with this nasty virus. There are many misconceptions regarding flu and the vaccine, so we asked Dr. Vasuki Nagaraj, Chief Medical Officer, and Family Physician at our Nashua office, to answer some common questions.
Do I need to get the flu vaccine every year?
Yes! Influenza causing virus changes every year, so you need the vaccine annually to protect yourself from new strains.
I hear you can get the flu from getting the vaccine?
No, you cannot get influenza from the vaccine. Like any vaccine, it’s specially formulated to give you the protection you need without exposing you to the disease.
I got the flu shot and still got sick.
Just like the question before, you cannot get influenza from the vaccine. However, that does not grant you immunity entirely from illnesses. The most common side effects from the vaccine are soreness, redness, and tenderness at the injection site, as well as a low-grade fever and headache. Usually, these symptoms will resolve within 1-2 days. Much faster than the actual influenza symptoms.
Aren’t the side effects from the flu shot worse than getting the flu?
The side effects of the vaccine itself are minimal; no different from any other vaccine. Any reaction you get from the vaccine would be nothing compared to getting the actual illness.
I’m pregnant and don’t want to expose my baby to all those toxins. I shouldn’t get the vaccine, right?
Pregnant women are at a higher risk for complications from influenza. The vaccine protects both mom and baby. The formula in the vaccine itself is both safe for adults and babies.
If I get the flu, I’ll just get an antibiotic:
Influenza is a viral illness. Antibiotics, which fight bacteria, will not help in treating the disease.
I never get sick, so I don’t need the vaccine:
Even healthy people can get sick from influenza. Also, by getting vaccinated, you are protecting people in your family and community who are more vulnerable or cannot get the vaccine.
I heard the flu shot actually weakens your immune system:
This is another misconception. Vaccines work by boosting your immune system’s natural defenses; not the other way around.
I waited too long this year to get the vaccine. I guess I shouldn’t even bother this year:
While it’s better to get the vaccine earlier in the season, it still protects you from the illness for the rest of the season. You can receive the vaccine as long as influenza is detected in the community, typically well into the spring.
If you find yourself still having questions or concerns regarding getting your flu shot, speak with your doctor. Don’t trust the internet with your health. Call our office to schedule your flu shot today. You can also visit the Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) for more information.