Know The Truth (About Flu Shots)--It Just Might Set You Free (From Miserable Illness)

Health & Medical Blog

What's your stand on flu shots? There is much misinformation about flu shots, made all the more of a hot topic because the CDC issued a statement that this year's version is not going to protect you from the current strain. What are the myths--and the truth--about flu shots? Should you still get one this flu season?

Myth #1: The flu shot doesn't work.

Your coworkers or friends may wave you off when you tell them you are going to get a flu shot, assuring you that the vaccine isn't effective. They're right--sort of. Different strains of flu are active each year, and researchers, while making their best guesses at predicting which ones to vaccinate against, can't be 100% correct. Further, flu vaccines are less effective overall than vaccines such as MMR. However, the truth is that flu vaccines do reduce the risk of becoming ill.

Myth #2: The flu shot will give you the flu.

This seems to be the most common know-it-all statement heard around the water cooler or over lunch when the subject of flu shots comes up. In every crowd is someone who will attest that he or she got the flu after getting the vaccine, and therefore has never gotten the vaccine again. The truth is that it takes two weeks after receiving the vaccine to develop protection against influenza. It takes 2-5 days to develop the flu after having been exposed. Because it is impossible to contract the flu from the inactivated vaccine, your friend probably had already been exposed to the virus. Another possibility is that your friend contracted it before the vaccine developed antibodies in his or her body. However, the flu shot cannot give you the flu.

Myth #3: The flu isn't that big a deal.

There are people who do not get flu shots because they believe the flu really isn't something to get worried about (maybe they secretly think it's worth it to get a couple days off work). However, the flu is a pretty miserable experience at its most routine: fever, body aches, sore throat, and cough. Add in a complication such as pneumonia, an ear or sinus infection, or an asthma flare-up and it can become dangerous. The truth is that over the past ten flu seasons, about 32,000 people have died each year from the flu.

Flu severe enough to result in hospitalization, medical complications, and even death is usually caused by the strain H3N2.  That is the strain prevalent this year--the strain not covered in this season's flu shots. However, other strains circulating are covered, so vaccination may still prevent illness. If your flu symptoms are severe, you should seek medical attention at a clinic like Harrison Medical Center.

The flu shot saves lives every year, and it is a good practice to get your vaccination each fall. The next time your coworkers or friends say it doesn't work, or will give you the flu, or isn't necessary, you can respond with the facts.


30 December 2014

Help Others Make Health Decisions when They Cannot

One day I was playing a game of basketball with a friend, and the friend I was playing ball with tripped and took a hard fall to the ground. He hit his head hard, but he insisted he was okay and just wanted to go home and take a nap. I knew in my heart that he was not thinking clearly, and I didn't feel right letting him go home. I talked him into letting me take him to the hospital, and after some tests, it was determined he had a bad concussion. The doctors told me that if I had let him go home and sleep, things could have taken a turn for the worse. I created this blog to remind everyone to look out for each other after injuries. Not everyone thinks clearly after a head injury, and just being a good friend could save a life.