While flu season kicked off a couple of months ago, there is still time to get your flu shot and be protected before the winter holidays.
This week (Dec. 5-11) is National Influenza Vaccination Week, which is an annual observance to remind everyone six months of age and older to get their annual flu vaccine. This reminder is especially important for those who are at higher risk for flu complications, such as people with chronic conditions
We hear many myths about the flu vaccine, and we’re here to bust them.
Myth: The flu vaccine can give me the flu.
Fact: You cannot get the flu from getting a flu shot—flu vaccines are made with either killed viruses or a single protein from the flu virus.
If you develop flu-like symptoms shortly after being vaccinated, it is likely a result of being exposed to the flu virus shortly before being vaccinated or during the two weeks after being vaccinated, before your body develops full protection.
Myth: I don’t actually need the flu shot every year.
Fact: Flu viruses are constantly changing and adapting so the strains that the annual flu vaccine protects against are reviewed and updated each year. Additionally, your immunity from the flu shot wanes over time, so an annual shot provides the best protection against the flu.
Myth: I got the flu vaccine, but still got sick—it doesn’t work.
Fact: The flu shot only protects you from three to four different flu strains that are predicted to circulate in a given year. It is possible to be exposed to a strain that is different from those in the annual shot.
It is also possible to develop flu-like symptoms resulting from exposure to other respiratory viruses beside the flu such as rhinoviruses, which are associated with the common cold. To determine if you have the flu, you can visit a UTMB Health urgent care clinic for a same-day appointment.
Additionally, if you get sick but have been vaccinated, studies show that it can prevent the severity of illness and lower your risk of hospital admission or even death.
Myth: I should just catch the flu to build natural immunity, rather than getting the shot.
Fact: Influenza can cause serious illness, especially among those at increased risk for severe disease, including young children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions. It is best to get the flu vaccine to build protection rather than risk developing serious complications from getting sick with the flu.
Myth: The flu vaccine can increase my risk of getting COVID-19.
Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that getting a flu shot increases your risk of getting sick from the virus that causes COVID-19. Furthermore, flu vaccines are not thought to make people more susceptible to other respiratory infections.
To learn more about influenza or to schedule your flu shot, visit www.utmbhealth.com/health-blog/health-conditions/influenza.
Tips sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.