Flu season is upon us, so health experts advise getting your annual flu vaccine to help to stop the spread of the virus, which can cause serious illness in some people.
The team from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi address some of the common myths around the flu shot:
- The vaccine makes you sick. The flu vaccine contains a killed (inactive) virus, so it isn’t infectious and couldn’t cause you to become sick with the flu germ. Some people may experience a mild reaction following the shot, with symptoms including a low-grade fever, headache and achy muscles. You may also experience some soreness, tenderness or redness around the site of the vaccination. Severe reactions are rare, and like mild reactions, will typically occur within a few minutes to a few hours of having the vaccination.
- I had the vaccine last year, so I don’t need it again. This isn’t the case. Firstly, your immunity declines over time, so an annual vaccination is the best way to ensure you’re protected. Secondly, the flu vaccine isn’t identical every year. Research is carried out to identify which three or four strains are most likely to circulate each year, and the vaccine is then developed accordingly
- I’ve had a COVID vaccine – I don’t need the flu shot This is not true. While both cause respiratory illnesses, the flu virus and the COVID virus are different. The COVID vaccine will not offer protection against the flu virus, and the flu vaccine will not offer protection against the COVID virus. Therefore, it is important to have both vaccines to protect yourself and those around you.
- I can get my flu shot and COVID vaccine at the same time! This also isn’t the case. You must ensure an interval of at least 2 weeks between your flu vaccine and any dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- The flu vaccine is only for young children and the elderly. Young children, the elderly and those with chronic conditions, like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, are more likely to suffer complications from flu. However, the virus can infect even the healthiest of individuals and when serious, can lead to hospitalization and even death. As such, the flu vaccine is recommended for anyone aged 3 years and over. Pregnant women are advised to have the vaccine after 12 weeks, and can pass immunity on to their babies, providing them with protection after they are born.
- I travel a lot so the flu vaccine isn’t necessary. If you’re a regular traveler, then the flu vaccine makes even more sense. The timing of seasonal flu outbreaks differs across the globe, and in some countries, influenza can be a threat all year. The flu virus is easily spread and traveling through airports and on airplanes gives you an increased risk of being infected. It’s best to get the flu shot 2 weeks before you travel to give your immunity time to develop.
Protecting our community, together.