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Get Your Flu Shot and Have a Healthier Winter

Posted by on October 18th, 2018 Posted in: NLM Resources, Public Health
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illustration showing herd immunity from the CDC: if only some get vaccinated, the virus spreads. if most get vaccinated, spreading is contained.

Illustration from the CDC showing Herd Immunity, also known as Community Immunity

It’s that time of year again, the wind turns cold, the leaves change color and everyone is talking about the flu.  This year get the facts and get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family and your community.

Anyone can get the flu and have serious complications, but people over 65, people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, pregnant women and children under five are at higher risk for hospitalization or death from the flu.

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot every season. Children younger than 6 months and people who are allergic to some vaccine ingredients can’t be vaccinated. So getting your flu shot also protects them by containing the spread of the flu virus.

Why every year?  Because the flu strains that the vaccine protects against may change from year to year.  Even if it doesn’t change, the immune protection can decline over time, so getting your flu shot every year gives the best defense.

There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about the flu and the vaccine.  Below are some of the most common, but to learn more about flu and flu vaccine myths, visit the CDC’s Flu and Flu Vaccine Q&A page.

  1. You can get the flu from the vaccine.
    • FALSE: You can’t get the flu from the vaccine. Flu vaccines are made with “inactivated” (killed) viruses that can’t cause infection or by using a single gene from a flu virus instead of the whole virus.
  2. It’s better to get the flu than the vaccine. The flu isn’t that big of a deal.
    • FALSE: It is NOT better to get the flu instead of the vaccine. Flu can cause serious health complications, hospitalization or death even in generally healthy children and adults.
  3. You can get the flu if you’ve been vaccinated.
    • TRUE, but being vaccinated can still protect you from the more severe consequences.
    • And some people who think they got the flu after being vaccinated may have had a rhinovirus (common cold), or may have been exposed to the virus shortly before getting the shot. So it’s still important to get your shot.

Learn more about the flu shot by visiting MedlinePlus.  MedlinPlus also has flu and flu vaccine health information in multiple languages to share with family and friends.

And finally, flu season is a good reminder that kids aren’t the only ones who need vaccines.  Visit the CDC’s Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults to learn about vaccines that adults should be getting beyond their annual flu shot.

Image of the author ABOUT Sarah Levin-Lederer

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This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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