Ask the Doctor: What are the facts about the flu shot?
Every year I encourage all of my patients to get a flu vaccine—commonly called the “flu shot.” And every year, many of them cite the same three reasons for NOT getting a flu shot. Unfortunately, all of these reasons are based on misinformation. As a physician, I want to do everything I can to keep my patients healthy. Let’s address these myths about the flu shot once and for all:
“I am healthy; I don’t need a flu shot.”
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. Influenza (flu) is a contagious disease which affects the lungs and can lead to serious illness, including pneumonia. Even healthy people can get sick enough to miss work or school for a significant amount of time or even be hospitalized.
“I received a flu shot and then I got the flu. I am never doing that again!”
- Flu shots can’t give you the flu! Even if you got a flu shot, there are reasons why you might still get flu or a flu-like illness.
- You may have been exposed to a non-flu virus before or after you got vaccinated. The flu shot can only prevent illnesses caused by flu viruses. It cannot protect against non-flu viruses that may cause flu-like illness.
- You may have been exposed to flu after you got vaccinated but before the vaccine took effect. It takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccine for your body to build protection against the flu.
- You may have been exposed to an influenza virus that was very different from the viruses included in that year’s vaccine. The flu shot protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will cause the most disease during the upcoming season, but there can be other flu viruses circulating.
“I am not convinced the flu shot is safe”.
Flu shots have been given to hundreds of millions of people from more than 50 years and have a very good safety track record. I am so convinced of their safety, I get a flu shot every year and make sure my wife and children do too!
Getting a flu shot is one way to stay healthy this winter. It’s also important to have your own doctor who can take care of you when you are sick and also offer advice and guidance for staying well. If you are seeking an internal medicine physician who is dedicated to treating the whole person, why don’t you schedule an appointment with Dr. Yablonsky? If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yablonsky, please call (618) 288-8850. To learn more about the internal medicine treatment programs, click here.