What Seniors Should Know about Flu Shots
Every fall caregivers at the Five Star Senior Living communities across the country receive questions from residents and their families about the influenza vaccine. Some are convinced receiving a flu shot will cause them to come down with the flu. Others don’t think they need to have the shot each and every year.
To help separate fact from fiction when it comes to the vaccine, we have pulled together the most common myths associated with flu shots.
Myth #1: If I get a flu shot, I will develop a mild case of the flu because that is how the shot helps me build resistance to the flu
FACT: This is the most popular and persistent myth about the flu shot. It often keeps older adults from agreeing to have it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the agency that has oversight for the flu vaccine, the answer is a resounding NO. The influenza vaccine does not give you a mild case of the flu to build up resistance. The CDC explains it this way:
“A flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The viruses contained in flu shots are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the flu shot during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe.”
Myth #2: If I get the flu vaccine too early I won’t be protected for the entire flu season
FACT: The flu shot generally protects you for one full year. Experts advise seniors to be vaccinated in mid-October or November every year, although while the virus is still active it is never to late to get vaccinated.
Myth #3: You can skip receiving the vaccine for a few years and still be safe
FACT: This is another popular and dangerous myth for seniors. The flu shot is an annual vaccine. It isn’t like the pneumonia or shingles vaccines that protect you for longer periods of time. Each year’s vaccine is targeted to protect you from the strains of the virus that are predicted to be bad during that particular flu season. They are NOT the same from year to year.
Myth #4: If you catch the flu before you have time to receive the vaccine you don’t need to get flu shot
FACT: Unfortunately this is another hazardous myth. The flu vaccine protects you from several strains of the influenza virus. Even if you’ve had the flu already this year, you will likely be protected from only one particular strain.
Myth #5: You can’t spread the flu if you are feeling well
FACT: This statistic speaks to how important it is for people who will be around seniors to receive the vaccine. According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, 20 – 30% of those who carry the influenza virus are symptom-free and don’t feel sick.
Have more questions? You can learn more by visiting Flu Vaccine and Prevention. The video series sponsored by the CDC will likely answer any additional questions you may have about flu season.