The 5 most common influenza vaccine misconceptions

I’m a little late with this one! The flu season is upon us which means you can now get your annual flu shot. So many people have questions or misconceptions regarding the vaccine I though I’d answer the 5 most common ones I get in the pharmacy.

An article in Pharmacy Times helped inspire this post. For those contemplating getting their annual flu shot for themselves or a loved one, this is for you.

People still get sick with the flu even after vaccination so getting vaccinated is pointless.

The vaccine is aimed helping your immune system fight off the virus. If you don’t take the necessary precautions to avoid getting infected, then nothing will stop you from actually contracting influenza. However, with the vaccine the severity of infection will be less.

Also, most vaccines take into account the 4 most prevalent strains but infection with a strain not included in the vaccine is also possible.

I still get sick with coughs and colds even though I get the vaccine.

The influenza vaccine does not protect against other viruses such RSV, adenoviruses and the rhinovirus which can cause coughs and the common cold.

I’ve gotten vaccinated before so why do I need to get vaccinated again this year?

Immunity obtained from the influenza vaccine wains over time so the protection it gives patients lessens. Also, each year the latest vaccine takes into account new mutations that have surged in the virus.

Influenza vaccine will help me if I catch COVID-19.

I would say, not necessarily. Although there are studies coming out that suggest that vaccinating against flu will help lower disease severity if you were to catch COVID-19. This does not mean you can be lax with your safety precautions. One good thing is that the same safety precautions, hand washing and mask use, lowers the chances of getting either one.

If I get influenza, can’t I just take Tamiflu so I don’t have to bother with getting vaccinated?

Although Tamiflu can reduce flu duration and severity, it is most effective during the first 36 to 48 hours of illness onset. Still, the immune system is being compromised and this can be dangerous especially for an elderly person. While it takes your body to recuperate, if a patient were to contract COVID-19 this could lead to serious and deadly complication.

Elderly people can have strong symptoms to the flu that often requires hospitalization even with Tamiflu treatment. Once you’re in the hospital, the risk of complications may increase. Getting vaccinated will help give your body that boost in defenses your body might need in order to lessen the possibility of complications.

Have any of these comments regarding the flu shot popped up in your head or in conversation with your health care provider?
References

Barna Bridgeman, Mary. “Responding to Influenza Vaccine Misconceptions: Counseling Points for Pharmacists in 2020.” Pharmacy Times, July 2020.

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