(BPT) - Heavier jackets are out. Noses are running. Germs are thriving.
During this time of year, it’s important to arm yourself with information on how you can help protect yourself from the flu. This may be especially important this winter, with COVID-19 variants still prevalent in some communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a decline in flu hospitalizations and deaths last season, citing masking and social distancing as likely contributions. However, reduced COVID-19 restrictions may result in increased influenza activity.
Getting a flu vaccine may be the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones — and can help keep you from missing important events, like family gatherings over the holidays and into the new year.
If you’re unsure if a flu vaccine is right for you, you’re not alone. There can be a lot of confusion out there surrounding vaccines. To help, here are five common flu vaccine myths — and the facts behind them.
Myth 1: You can get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Every year, some people choose not to get a seasonal flu vaccine because they have heard you can get the flu from the vaccine. However, that’s not true. In fact, doctors strongly recommend getting the flu vaccine because it is the best way to help protect yourself from the flu. The flu vaccine has a good safety record, it doesn’t cause serious side effects and may even help reduce the seriousness of your symptoms if you do get the flu.
Myth 2: The flu vaccine isn’t safe for older adults.
The flu vaccine is safe, simple and a smart choice — no matter your age. In fact, the flu vaccine is especially important if you’re 65 or older because older adults are at higher risk for serious flu complications, which could result in a hospital stay.
Myth 3: The flu vaccine causes strong side effects.
Side effects from the flu vaccine are typically mild, if any happen at all. The most common side effects are soreness, redness or tenderness where the shot was given. A low-grade fever, headache or muscle aches may occur but usually only last a day or two. The flu vaccine also doesn’t interact with other medications, so you don’t have to worry about changing your medication routine.
Myth 4: I got a flu vaccine last year, so I’m fine for this year.
Even if you received a flu shot last year, the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for optimal protection, due to the fact that a person’s immunity from vaccination declines with time. Also, the flu viruses are constantly changing so the vaccine is updated each year, as needed.
Myth 5: I got the COVID-19 vaccine, or a booster, and so I can’t get the flu vaccine.
The two vaccines are very different and protect you from different viruses. There are no interactions between the two vaccines. Both are recommended by the CDC to help maintain optimal health and you can save a trip by getting both vaccines at the same time.
Whether you are enrolled in Original Medicare or have a Medicare Advantage plan, your flu vaccine is covered at no additional cost. So don’t wait — visit your doctor’s office or a participating pharmacy and get your flu vaccine today.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of a medical provider.