Getting the Facts about Getting the Flu Shot

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Haylee Hogie, Staff Writer

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Deciding to get a flu shot can be intimidating. The science behind a flu shot seems like a mystery to most.  Each year many people don’t know whether to get the vaccine or not especially in the middle of a pandemic. However, most doctors agree that getting an Influenza vaccine makes good sense especially since there is a relationship between the flu and Covid-19.  It is important to understand the facts about vaccinations to make the right decision.

People are encouraged to get flu shot to protect themselves from getting the flu virus. The flu is a disease that can’t be treated, but the vaccination can protect people from getting the flu, and it also helps protect the community because it won’t spread. Nurse Anne from Northern Kentucky Pediatrics, said, “Your body doesn’t have a natural immunity to the flu virus, and it isn’t treatable. It just runs its course. The flu shot helps protect against the different strains of the flu, so you’re protected completely and it doesn’t mutate.” She went on to explain how it is very important to get the flu shot, and it especially helps the very young and very old who don’t have strong immune systems.

In truth, there are some negative effects of flu shots.  Some believe that one can get the flu from the flu shot. That is a myth. According to the CDC, “Flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so that they will not cause illness.” Because the flu shot usually takes up to two weeks to fully develop and protect against getting the flu, what is really going on is that a person was exposed to the flu before getting the flu shot. So, it looks like the shot cause the flu, but that is not true. Mrs. Leah Snowball, a middle school parent, said, “The flu shot takes time to fully protect you so people think it gets you sick when it just isn’t done going through your blood stream.”

Another twist to all this confusion, coronavirus pandemic. It is very hard to tell the difference between flu symptoms and Covid-19 symptoms. They are very similar and can lead people to think they have the coronavirus when it is a cold or flu. The symptoms both have in common include cough, fever, chills, sore throat, nausea, and diarrhea. To be sure what is happening, it is best to get a flu test or a Covid-19 test.

One final thought about the flu vaccine.  Many people have a severe case of the flu. Last year The CDC reported, “Estimates of hospitalizations and mortality associated with the 2019–2020 influenza season show the effects that influenza virus infections can have on society. More than 52,000 hospitalizations occurred in children aged 18 years and younger and 86,000 hospitalizations among adults aged 18-49 years. Forty-three percent of hospitalizations occurred in older adults aged ≥65 years.”  In this time of a pandemic, it is important that society stays as healthy as possible, so they don’t take a hospital bed from a person with Covid-19.

Flu season is here once again.  Once all the facts are known, the answer is clear.  Help keep the flu from becoming another reason we have to be isolated.  Make that appointment to get the flu shot.