Facts vs. Fears: Flu Shot

The flu can have a serious impact on the health of our communities, and this year with COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for everyone to get the flu vaccine this fall to protect you and your loved ones.

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19 but will reduce the risk of flu complications, hospitalization, and death. You can receive a flu shot covered by insurance or a $20 cash price at any Singing River Medical Clinic.

FEAR #1 COVID-19 + Flu = Death 

FACT:

While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen if you catch both at once, the CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading simultaneously. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever.

Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. 

How do you get the flu?

Similar to COVID-19, the transmission of the flu from one person to another is through respiratory particles, which are typically spread from sneezing or coughing.

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. 

How do you know if you have the flu?

Flu symptoms: body aches, fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

These symptoms are usually abrupt but typically start with the first three (body aches, fever, and chills) followed by cough, sore throat, and congestion. If flu symptoms arise, you should contact your medical provider. Your provider may prescribe an anti-viral medication specifically for flu, which can decrease the duration of the symptoms.

FEAR #2: The Flu Shot is NOT for Everyone just the Elderly. 

FACT:

Everyone 6 months and older should get it every year. It will help guard you against the three or four strains predicted to affect most people that flu season. Scientists update the vaccine each year. 

FEAR #3: The Flu Shot Never Works 

FACT:

While it’s true that the flu shot cannot offer 100 percent protection against the flu, it does reduce your risk of getting it. 

Many people mistake symptoms from colds and other illnesses for the flu.

Flu strains change all the time. They can vary from year to year. They can even change in the middle of the flu season.

FEAR #4: The Flu Vaccine Gives You The Flu  

FACT:

The flu vaccine does not contain a live virus, so you can not get the flu from the shot. A common misconception from many years ago when the Influenza Vaccine did contain live strains, but even then was weakened to not cause you to become sick with the flu.

However, some people may feel tired, feverish, or achy, for a few days after getting the shot. Fewer than 1 in a million people experience severe allergic reactions. It takes about two weeks after receiving the shot when antibodies (remember those guys thanks to COVID antibody testing) are formed providing you protection.

It is possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test).

This is possible for the following reasons:
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with the flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection develop in the body.
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.

FEAR #5: The Flu (Influenza) is the same as the Stomach Flu/Bug

FACT:

The stomach flu refers to a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses unrelated to influenza.​

FEAR #6: Flu Shots contain dangerous ingredients like Mercury, Formaldehyde, and Antifreeze

FACT:

Flu shot ingredients are safe and even those with egg allergies can now receive flu vaccines safely.

FEAR #7: I Need Antibiotics to Fight the Flu

FACT:

Antibiotics only help with infections caused by bacteria. The flu is caused by a virus, not bacteria.

Instead of antibiotics, antiviral drugs like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) can fight the flu virus and make you feel better faster. They work best if you take them within two days of getting sick, be sure to ask your doctor about these medications as soon as symptoms arise.

FEAR #8: If You Haven’t Gotten the Flu Shot By November, There’s No Point In Getting One

FACT:

Getting the flu shot any time during flu season will reduce your risk of getting the flu.

FEAR #9: BUT IT HURTS!

FACT:

The flu vaccine is just like any other shot, you can expect some soreness in the arm where it was injected but that’s about it.