Getting a shot is not fun. We all understand that, and it’s why some people may be willing to accept some common misconceptions as reasons to avoid receiving a flu vaccine. But, being vaccinated is the most effective way to avoid influenza.
You may be thinking that it’s already December, we’re in flu season already, so it’s too late to be vaccinated. While you would have been better off receiving the vaccine in October, it’s still worth getting your flu shot now. Flu season can last into late spring, and it can peak as late as March.
Perhaps you have heard people complain that the flu shot gave them or someone they know the flu. While they may have gotten sick after their vaccination, the vaccine does not cause the flu. It does take a couple weeks for the vaccine to become effective; so if you’ve already been exposed, the vaccine may not prevent the illness. Colds and other respiratory illnesses may be mistaken for the flu. People often refer to an illness that causes vomiting as the stomach flu, but this is not caused by an influenza virus, which is a respiratory illness.
You might have heard people say they still came down with the flu despite getting the shot. As I mentioned, they may mistake another illness for the flu – but there is some truth to this one. The flu vaccine does not protect from all strains of the flu. However, the vaccine can provide some protection from these strains by limiting how hard it hits you and allow for a faster recovery.
And here’s one unfortunate truth: the nasal flu vaccine spray is not an option. It was found not to be effective enough, so you will have to get a shot to receive your vaccine.
Dr. Paul Hansen is Medical Director of St. Anthony’s Urgent Care Centers, which offers the flu vaccine without an appointment every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.