It’s flu season again, and Bremo Pharmacy is here to help keep you protected! Our patients often have questions and concerns about the flu vaccine. We want to help debunk some of the myths that are often associated with this vaccine and help ease your mind about the safety of receiving an annual flu vaccination.
Myth #1 The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
False. Many organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state that the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Because flu shots are made with inactivated (dead) viruses, they cannot give you the flu. Unfortunately, most patients come to the pharmacy around the time that the common cold is circulating. They may already have an underlying cold or illness when they get their flu shot.
Myth #2 The flu shot makes you sick.
False. While mild reactions are possible with both the flu shot and nasal spray, these are not serious and last only a few days. The most common reactions to the flu shot are soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site. For the nasal spray, the common reactions include runny nose, nasal congestion, and cough.
There are a few reasons why you may experience flu-like symptoms after getting a flu shot.
- Since the vaccine takes about 2 weeks to be effective, you can catch the flu if you are exposed to the virus just before getting the vaccine or during the 2 weeks after. (This is also why we recommend getting vaccinated early in the season.)
- You may be exposed to other viruses that can respiratory illness with similar symptoms as the flu, such as rhinovirus which causes the common cold. The flu vaccine does not work against these other viruses. Learn more about how to stay healthy during the common cold season.
- The flu vaccine is designed to protect against the most common strains of flu. If you are exposed to a strain of flu virus that is not covered by the vaccine, you may be able to catch the flu.
- Like all vaccines, the flu vaccine is not 100% effective. Although it does work very well, it may not provide as much protection for certain groups of patients.
Myth #3 It won’t affect anybody else if you don’t get a flu shot.
False. Since you can carry the virus without showing symptoms, you can pass the virus to others without being aware of it. This is especially important if you are around infants and small children who have not yet gotten the vaccination, or elderly patients or others with weakened immune systems. Patients with certain disease, such as diabetes, can become very ill if they get the flu without receiving the influenza vaccine each year.
Myth #4 If you don’t get a flu shot early in the flu season, there’s no benefit to getting it later in the season.
False. Flu activity is unpredictable. It can begin in October but is highest between December and February. Even a late-season vaccination can protect against flu during the winter months. However, our pharmacists recommend getting vaccinated as early as you can, since the vaccine takes about two weeks to be effective.
If you have any questions about the flu vaccines, or if you are ready to be vaccinated, your Bremo pharmacists will be happy to help. We provide flu shots on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday from 9am-6pm and on Saturdays from 9am-1pm. Please give us a call at 804-288-8361 or visit us on the web at www.bremorx.com for more information about our services.
By Sara M. Hudson, PharmD Candidate 2016
Adapted from CDC’s Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm. Retrieved Sept. 9, 2015