Flu season is just around the corner, and pharmacists are urging Ontarians to learn the facts and get vaccinated early, before the virus strikes. Getting the flu shot early in the season helps to prevent the spread of the virus and reduces the chances of catching the flu, but there are many common misconceptions around the flu and flu shots, which can often keep people from being protected.
Top Seven Flu Misconceptions – Courtesy of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA)
#1 “I can get the flu shot later.”
Fact: Flu outbreaks can occur as early as October. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu, it’s best to get vaccinated in time to be protected before the flu begins to spread.
#2 “I won’t have time to get the flu shot, I’m too busy.”
Fact: Last year more than 750,000 Ontarians received their free flu shot at a local pharmacy. Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers, with almost 2,400 pharmacies offering flu shots, and close to 7,000 Ontario pharmacists trained to provide vaccinations on-the-spot or through scheduled appointments.
#3 “I’m pregnant – I can’t get the flu shot.”
Fact: Influenza immunization is safe for expectant mothers and highly recommended for the health of the pregnant mother and to provide her baby with immunity in the first six months of life when they are most at risk of serious disease.
#4 “The flu vaccine can give you the flu.”
Fact: The flu vaccine is made of a dead virus, so you cannot catch the flu from the flu vaccine. However, people who get the flu shot are less likely to get the flu than someone not vaccinated. If you do get the flu after receiving the flu shot, your illness will likely be milder.
#5 “I got my flu shot last year, so I don’t need it this year.”
Fact: The flu doesn’t skip a year. Each year, about 10 to 20% of Canadians contract influenza, approximately 12,200 people are hospitalized and 3,500 die. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so getting a flu shot is part of an ongoing healthy lifestyle and helps you build up your immunity and be more resistant to the virus.
#6 “The flu shot doesn’t work.”
Fact: The flu is highly contagious and can spread rapidly from person to person, but the flu shot can prevent illness. Up to 80% of influenza cases are prevented by the flu vaccine, and a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the flu shot reduced children’s risk of hospital admissions by 74%.
#7: “I’ve had the flu already, so I don’t need the vaccine this year.”
Fact: Flu is caused by several viruses, and you could catch another strain, which is why it is important to get the vaccine even if you’ve recently had the flu. Children, seniors and people with certain chronic health conditions are at higher risk to catch the flu, and so it’s vital that they get a flu shot every year. Pharmacists can administer the flu shot to children five years of age or older. Talk to your local pharmacist today.
Dispelling these myths can help people stay as healthy as possible during flu season. For more info visit opatoday.com.