Dealing with Flu: MidMichigan Answers Myths about the Flu Vaccine
|Infectious Disease Specialist Ahmad Subhi, M.D.
The flu is a contagious illness that can result in missed days at work, school or other important activities. In some cases, it can lead to serious complications or even death. Flu vaccine is the single most effective means for preventing infection with the flu virus and complications associated with flu.
To better understand what can be done to prevent the illness, Infectious Disease Specialist Ahmad Subhi, M.D., who is with MidMichigan Physicians Group in Midland, helps dispel some common myths about the flu and flu vaccine:
MYTH: You can get the flu from the flu vaccine.
“The flu shot cannot cause the flu because the vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection,” said Dr. Subhi. “It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine. Some get a little soreness or redness where they get the shot; however, it goes away in a day or two. Serious problems from the flu shot are very rare.”
MYTH: Getting the flu vaccine is all you have to do to avoid the flu.
The vaccine is just one way to protect yourself during flu season. You should also avoid contact with people who have the flu, wash your hands frequently, avoid sharing mugs, cups and utensils, and consider taking anti-viral medications if you were exposed to the flu before being vaccinated.
MYTH: Younger, healthier adults don’t need flu shots.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year. It’s especially important that certain groups get vaccinated if they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. “People at high risk are those with asthma, diabetes, heart disease or have had a stroke, HIV or AIDS, cancer, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and children younger than five – especially those under two,” Dr. Subhi said.
MYTH: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
The flu virus changes from year to year, and so does the vaccine. That's why it’s important to get vaccinated annually.
MYTH: Cold weather causes the flu.
The only way to catch the flu is by being exposed to the influenza virus. “Going outside without a hat or sleeping with the window cracked open does not increase your risk for the flu. The natural cycle of the virus just happens to coincide with cold weather months,” Dr. Subhi explained.
Flu vaccinations are typically available for a fee through physician offices, the local health department or local drugstores. Those interested in a physician referral may call MidMichigan Health Line at (800) 999-3199 or visit www.midmichigan.org/doctors.
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