We are once again on the cusp of winter, and while it may be fun to curl up on the couch with a good book and hot chocolate, winter is also accompanied by seasonal viruses that make their rounds each year. There is also the misconception that people get viral infections when they are cold, but the only reason influenza is more common in winter is because it thrives indoors longer in air that is less humid. People also stay indoors and closer to each other during colder months, which contributes to quick spreading. Fortunately, people can get annual flu shots to help prevent acquiring and spreading the main local strains. Below, we take a look at common myths and misconceptions about influenza vaccinations.
Myth 1: Getting the Flu is Good for the Immune System
While getting a mild cold may not be dangerous, influenza strains are often far more serious and can lead to life-threatening complications. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 650 000 people can die of influenza annually based on only respiratory deaths. Immunocompromised individuals and those with vulnerable immune defences are especially prone to complications such as pneumonia and inflammation in the heart or brain. There is also the myth that flu shots weaken the immune system, but this is untrue. They simply prepare the immune system for a potential infection.
Myth 2: Flu Shots Give You the Virus
Flu shots have an inactivated virus or only a single protein from the virus that cannot give you the flu. Some people may experience mild fever or aches for a day or two, but this is a normal immune system response, not a viral infection.
Myth 3: Influenza Immunisations Don’t Really Work
Some people claim that they received a vaccine but still got influenza, which means that immunisations don’t actually work. It is important to remember, however, that there are other seasonal illnesses that circulate apart from the mains strains of influenza. These can include rhinoviruses associated with milder colds and infections.
Myth 4: The Side Effects Are Dangerous
Influenza vaccines are considered safe. Some people do report mild side effects such as tenderness and mild swelling at the injection site. Low-grade fever, headaches, and aches are also possible. These are not dangerous side effects, but rather, positive indications that the immune system is responding precisely as it needs to.
Myth 5: Flu Shots Protect Against All Infections
Vaccines only protect against the strains that health experts predict will likely be prevalent and most dangerous during a season. They will not protect you against other viruses that cause similar symptoms. Therefore, it remains important to take precautions in terms of your health, such as regularly washing your hands.
Myth 6: Influenza Vaccines Are Harmful to Pregnant Women
Becoming pregnant weakens the immune system, and so pregnant women are especially vulnerable to complications from viral strains. Influenza vaccines are safe for both mother and baby during any stage of the pregnancy. Flu shots are highly recommended for expecting mothers.
Myth 7: Once Vaccinated, You Will Never Need Another Shot Again
Viruses mutate and change, which means this year’s influenza strains will look different next year. That is why annual immunisations are so important – it keeps your system up to date and able to fight whatever popular strain comes its way.
Here at The Local Choice, our commitment to serving our valued customers and patients is reflected in the wide array of services we offer, including annual flu shots. Our Baby Clinic also offers immunisations for babies and children, and you can rely on us for expert advice and healthcare support. For more information on our services, you can contact us here.