Spread joy, not influenza, this holiday season!
New for the 2016-17 season: The most important change for this flu season is that only the injectable vaccine is available and recommended. That means everyone (over 6 months of age) gets a flu shot this year instead of nasal spray. A few other important things to note, flu vaccines have been updated to match the circulating viruses out there and recommendations for vaccination of people with egg allergies have changed. If you have an egg allergy here’s a link to more information, and of course always talk to your health care provider if you have questions!
Flu vaccine is safe: The vaccine is given to millions of people in the US and around the world every year. The strains may change from one year to the next but vaccines are always thoroughly tested and are safe.
The flu shot can’t give you the flu: It’s impossible to get the flu from the flu shot because the vaccine doesn’t contain live viruses. A small number of people experience side effects like achy muscles but this is simply the immune system responding to the vaccine and showing your body that the vaccine is working!
You need the vaccine every year: You won’t be protected from last years shot; there are always new strains of flu circulating. The composition of the flu vaccine is looked at each year and always updated to ensure the best chance of matching the flu viruses that are circulating.
Anyone can get the flu: One of the most common reasons for not getting vaccinated is “I’ve never had the flu before.” There’s no such thing as natural immunity to the flu; it’s best to get vaccinated each year.
Flu vaccine protects the community and you: It’s not just about protecting yourself, it’s also about protecting your colleagues, community, family, elderly, those immunocompromised and those too young to get the vaccine. Did you know that you can carry and pass on the virus to others without having any symptoms yourself?
Healthy diets won’t prevent flu: Your diet could help boost your immune system, but eating well and taking vitamins won’t protect you from flu. The best protection is the flu vaccine.
Pregnant women can and should be vaccinated: Pregnant women can get vaccinated at any stage of pregnancy. Having the vaccination while pregnant also helps protect your baby from flu over the first few months of life.
And the extra awesome super-duper bonus, drumroll please…. Flu vaccine is free and it’s very easy to get vaccinated: Your health insurance will pay for the full cost of the vaccine and you can get it by simply walking into most local pharmacies – no appointments, no copays, no excuses! Use the Vaccine Finder to locate a clinic or pharmacy near you. You can also connect with us through www.Parenthelp123.org or by calling the Family Health Hotline 1-800-322-2588 to find a free clinic near you!
It’s time to give the flu vaccine the respect it deserves
Recently, I was talking with my pro-vaccine friends who became parents not too long ago. They have an eight-month old baby and are following the CDC’s recommended childhood vaccination schedule. They consider themselves to be strong vaccine supporters and trust in the science of vaccination and the protection vaccines provide. You can find Facebook posts of their baby immediately following her vaccine doses. In the pictures she’s smiling with captions like: “I got fully vaccinated and this is how happy I am about it only 3 minutes later.” However, when I brought up the flu shot they were quick to dismiss it.
Why is the flu vaccine viewed differently from other vaccines?
If I’m perfectly honest, there was a time when I too thought of the flu vaccine as somehow inferior and less important than the other vaccines. Data shows that I am not alone. Even though the flu vaccine is nearly universally recommended for individuals over 6 months old, it has one of the lowest coverage rates when compared to other vaccines. Last year, less than half of those eligible received the vaccine. People often opt out of the flu vaccine due to some key misunderstandings, but below are the compelling facts for consideration.
Here are the facts about flu strains.
Unlike other viruses, the flu is constantly changing. Each year influenza experts predict which strains of the virus will be most common and develop a vaccine to protect against those strains. Some years these predictions are better than others. The good news is that even when the vaccine does not match with the circulating viruses as perfectly as we hope, some protection is still better than no protection. And more good news: early tests indicate that this year’s vaccine is a better match than last, which will make it more effective against preventing the flu.
The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu.
The vaccine is comprised of either dead or weakened virus strains (depending on which vaccine you receive) making your likelihood of contracting the flu from the vaccine impossible. The flu vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to provide protection, so get your shot early to maximize its benefit.
The flu can be miserable and dangerous even for healthy people.
I used to think I was tougher than the flu. My immune system is strong – I can handle the flu. Let’s assume I’m right and that I survive two weeks of muscle aches, chills, sweats, fevers and vomiting caused by the flu. Many aren’t so lucky and by hosting the flu virus, I could pass it to others when I’m infected but have no symptoms. The flu is most dangerous for those 65 and over and infants under two, as well as people with common health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and even pregnant women. Each year, thousands of hospitalizations and deaths are a result of the flu. By getting the vaccine, I not only protect myself from the dreadful symptoms but I also protect those around me who may be at a higher risk of suffering serious complications.
So get out there and get your flu shot! I may not have been able to persuade my friends but I’ll keep presenting them with the facts. The flu vaccine is available at pharmacies and doctor’s offices. I got mine and feel happy about not only protecting myself but relieved to be protecting vulnerable individuals in my community.
Why We Get the Flu Shot
By day I work at WithinReach and by night I’m a musician performing around Seattle with my band. I meet a lot of people and shake a lot of hands in both professions. Back here at WithinReach I sit next to my co-worker, Jeannie, who is pregnant. I got immunized to protect myself, Jeannie (and her baby), my co-workers, my family and my band members.
I got a flu shot early on, because I wanted to play with my little nephew. The flu is more dangerous for a baby! I would also hate to use up Paid Time Off (PTO) because I had the flu, when I’d rather save it for a vacation.
As someone with asthma, I am at increased risk of complications from the flu because the flu can cause further inflammation of airways and lungs. A few years ago, I was sick, and it led to a persistent cough and lung inflammation. It was hard to breathe and I felt terrible. I get the flu shot to avoid that happening to me again, and I also want to do whatever I can to protect the community and others who are high risk for complications from the flu.
I got a flu shot this season because I live with a toddler and a newborn, and I don’t want to put my family members at risk of getting sick! I also rely on public transportation and don’t want to take any chances if someone on the bus is sick.
I get the flu shot to avoid getting the flu and to protect others around me from getting the flu. I got the flu in 2009 and was out for 2 weeks, it really impacted my school work and it was a horrible experience. I also live with my dad and he has an autoimmune disease, I don’t want to risk exposing him to the flu by not getting immunized.
I get my Flu shot every year because I don’t want to risk being really sick. I also want to protect my co-workers, my friends, and my family including my teenage daughter, her Girl Scout troop – which I lead, and my own Mom who, at 82 years old, is my weekly yoga buddy!
Besides wanting to stay healthy myself and protect the health of my community, I also got a flu shot because I have a young nephew who is too young to be immunized against influenza himself, so I’m doing everything I can to protect him.
I get the flu shot because I don’t want to pass a really nasty sickness on to those around me, whether it’s my coworker with her adorable baby or the granny next to me on the bus. The more of us that get immunized, the smaller the pool the flu virus has to circulate in, and the safer vulnerable members of our families and communities will be.
I get the flu shot every year because I have a small child who I don’t want to risk getting sick. I am also currently pregnant and it is imperative that I do everything I can to protect my unborn child from illness.
I got the flu shot because I spend a lot of time outside of work with small children and elderly folks. I have a strong immune system and have not gotten the flu in years (even when I did not get the shot), but I want to make sure to protect the people in my life who are more at risk. I feel like getting the flu shot is an easy way to help keep my family and friends healthy and safe.
Our family of four gets vaccinated against the flu every year and we all go in as soon as the vaccine is available. It’s especially important that both of my boys get vaccinated as they are in preschool settings where they are around a lot of other children and teachers. I don’t want them bringing the flu to school or bringing it home. For us, vaccines are all about prevention!
Go today to get your flu shot! Any flu vaccine available from your healthcare provider or local pharmacy will help prevent the flu. Flu vaccines don’t prevent the common cold or the “stomach flu” (which is caused by different viruses, such as norovirus) – but they are our best defense against a disease that kills Americans of all ages, sick and healthy alike, every year. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans are required to cover flu vaccines without co-pay, as long as you get them from an in-network provider. Contact your primary care provider or find a flu vaccine provider near you at ParentHelp123.