Autumn is here – cue the pumpkin spice lattes, apple cider donuts, changing leaves, cozy scarves, and flu shots. That’s right. If you have not yet gotten your flu vaccine or have been on the fence about whether even to get one at all this year, don’t delay—especially if you are a senior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting your flu vaccine during September and October for the best protection against the virus. Furthermore, for the first time this year, the CDC advises one of three higher-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccines instead of the standard vaccine for those age 65 and older. Unfortunately, some misinformation exists about the flu vaccine, so let us take a moment to clear up some of the myths to highlight its importance and ensure that you do all you can to protect yourself this upcoming flu season.
Myth # 1: Getting the flu vaccine will give me the flu.
Truth: You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Suppose you develop flu-like symptoms after being vaccinated. In that case, it is likely because you had already contracted the virus prior to getting the vaccine, you caught the flu before your vaccine had taken full effect (about two weeks after receiving the shot), or you contracted a variant of the flu other than the one you were vaccinated for.
Myth #2: I’m healthy and don’t need a flu shot.
Truth: Getting sick with the flu can absolutely make otherwise healthy people sick enough to miss a considerable amount of work or school. The flu is a severe illness that can lead to hospitalization, especially for those who are already at higher risk of severe illness, including seniors.
Myth #3: I already got a flu shot last year, so I’m protected.
Truth: Flu vaccines are recommended yearly, and here’s why. Not only does the effectiveness of the vaccine wane over time, but the various circulating strains of the flu are constantly changing. Not only will last year’s flu vaccine likely not be strong enough anymore to protect you this year, but it’s also likely that it is not formulated to protect against this year’s strain anyway.
Myth #4: I can just wait to get the flu shot until the flu ramps up in my community.
Truth: After receiving the flu shot, it takes about two weeks for it to offer its full protection. If you wait until the flu is already spreading in your community, you’re taking the chance that you could become infected during that two-week window instead of ensuring you are immunized from the get-go.
Myth #5: The flu vaccine alone is enough to protect me from getting the flu.
Truth: While vaccination plays a crucial role in overall protection from the flu, additional lifestyle habits such as washing hands, maintaining proper nutrition, and avoiding others who are ill are no less critical in protecting yourself against illness.
Knowing the facts about the flu vaccine is important so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to get vaccinated. The Hickman senior living community in West Chester PA is committed to providing accurate information about the flu and other health concerns. We hope this article has helped dispel some of the myths surrounding the flu vaccine and that you will consider getting vaccinated this year.