Myths and inaccurate information about the flu vaccine may prevent you from protecting yourself against the potentially deadly flu virus.
Here are nine reasons why getting the flu vaccine is likely good for you and your family:
It's not too late. Flu season runs through the late winter/early spring so there's still time to get the vaccine to prevent the flu. (The vaccine may also make the flu much less severe or keep you from dying if you do get the virus. People with medical problems are at higher risk for flu-related complications.)
It's free. The flu vaccine is free for almost everyone in the U.S., with health insurance – including Medicare. You don't have to pay anything, even if you haven't met your deductible for the year.
It's easily accessible. You can get the flu vaccine from most pharmacists, but you should call ahead to make sure they have it in stock and check their hours appointments.
It's available in more than one form. There are different flu vaccine options – including one that is sprayed into the nose rather than injected – although the nasal spray may not be appropriate for all people. There also are versions of the vaccines specifically for people 65+, who often don't have as robust a response to the regular vaccine as do people under age 65. (If the vaccine for individuals age 65+ is not available at your pharmacy or health care provider's office, ask if the regular vaccine is an option for you.)
It works, but plan ahead. It takes a couple of weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective, unlike antibiotics prescribed for a bacterial infection, which can start working quickly. So, don't delay.
It doesn't cause the flu. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. (However, it may cause a mild fever in some people.)
It only works if you get vaccinated. Don't rely on the "herd immunity" to protect you from getting the flu since less than 50 percent of adults get vaccinated against the flu. So, protect yourself and your family.
It's a new vaccine each year. There are multiple strains of the virus, and they change from year to year. The vaccine is made to target the strains that public health scientists around the world expect for each year. So even if you got a flu shot last year, you're probably not protected from this year's flu strains.
It's safe and recommended for pregnant women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women should get a flu shot, and not the nasal spray flu vaccine. Not only does the flu vaccine given during pregnancy protect the mother, but it also protects her baby. Pregnant women are at higher risk for severe illness associated with the flue because of pregnancy-related changes, such as changes in the immune system, heart and lungs.
Disclaimer: This information in this article does not constitute medical advice. Please consult with your physician or pharmacist if you have any questions, including to determine which vaccine could be right for you.
Flu Vaccine Resources