As we begin 2019, the flu virus has been more active across the country. Nine states, including Kentucky, reported a high level of influenza-like illness according to the most recent weekly report from the CDC. Will we reach that level in Indiana? That’s hard to say. But even in January, you can still do your part to prevent the spread of flu by making sure you’ve had your flu shot.
Most people don’t love getting shots, but the flu vaccine truly is quick, mostly painless, and safe. If you’re still not convinced it’s worth it, or if you’re worried about negative effects, keep these facts in mind:
A flu vaccine can’t give you the flu.
It’s true that flu vaccine is made with flu virus. That’s how immunization works: a small, harmless form of the virus produces an immune response to protect the patient. The flu in flu vaccine is specially adjusted in a number of ways, depending on the vaccine, to prevent actual infection.
Each year’s flu vaccine protects against those flu strains thought to be most threatening in a given flu season. Sometimes those calculations are off. But even if you do get the flu after getting the flu vaccine, the vaccine itself was never the cause. And getting the vaccine has been shown to reduce the length and severity of the flu.
A flu vaccine protects those around you, too.
Getting yourself vaccinated helps to protect people around you: especially those more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions. Especially in bad flu years, keeping flu from spreading by getting vaccinated becomes especially important.
Flu vaccines (and other vaccines) are safe.
For decades, concerns have circulated about the supposed dangers of vaccines to children and others. You may have heard that a preservative in vaccines has been linked to autism. The research claiming this has been thoroughly debunked and the researcher’s medical license revoked. Vaccines are a longstanding, safe, and effective means of controlling the spread of disease—and have helped us virtually eliminate once devastating diseases such as polio and smallpox, so long as the vast majority of people keep getting vaccinated! The history of safe and effective vaccines goes back as far as the 1700s.
You need a new flu vaccine every year.
Your immunity to flu does decline over time, so you need a new flu vaccine every year. The CDC recommends getting your flu vaccine in October for optimal protection across the flu season, but if you weren’t vaccinated in the fall, getting the vaccine is still as effective in the new year.
Flu vaccines are covered by most insurance.
Unless your policy was written before the ACA and grandfathered out, your insurance will most likely cover the cost of a flu shot. Just make sure to check if there are any network or location restrictions.
It does take around two weeks for your immunity to build up after a flu shot, so don’t put it off. Call your doctor and arrange to get your flu vaccine today!