What's Keeping You from Getting Your Flu Shot?
If you haven't gotten your flu vaccine this flu season, what's stopping you? Take a look at some of these common excuses, and the truth behind them.
"The flu isn't really that serious."
Actually, the flu is a serious illness. It can make you feel terrible, and the symptoms are usually more severe than that of a common cold. It can lead to hospitalization, most commonly for people who are 65 and older. Every year, thousands of people die from flu-related complications.
The flu can also lead to other serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, sinus infections and dehydration. And it can cause chronic medical conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes to get worse.
"I got vaccinated last year, so I'm protected for this year."
Unlike some other vaccines, which can protect you for your whole life with one or two shots, you need to get a flu shot every year. Why? Because flu viruses are always changing, and each year's flu vaccine is changed to best fight those particular virus strains. Also, your immune protection wears off over time. So last year's shot can't protect you this season.
"If I get the flu, I'll just get antibiotics to take care of it."
Antibiotics only fight against bacterial infections. The flu is caused by the influenza virus, so antibiotics can't do anything to help with the flu. There are medications that can help with flu symptoms, but there's no cure for the flu.
"I'm afraid getting a flu shot will make me sick."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are clear about this: the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Some people may have side effects from the vaccine, but they're usually short-lived.
"I can't afford a flu shot."
The flu vaccine is covered by your Medicare plan. There's no copay or additional cost to you.
"It's too much trouble."
Remember, when you get a flu shot, you're not just protecting yourself. You're helping keep family, children, friends and caregivers safe from the flu, too.
"I can't get to the doctor to get the flu shot."
You can get your flu shot in other places than your doctor's office. Pharmacies, community centers and other locations near you may offer flu shots in the fall.
"It's too early." / "It's too late."
Generally, you want to try to get your flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available. That can help protect you before any influenza outbreak in your community. But getting vaccinated later in the season can still help protect you and those around you. So even if you've waited, it's still a good idea to get the shot if it's available. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.
Created on 07/21/2014
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014.
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