It’s that time of the year – your doctor has probably already reminded you to get your annual flu shot. But many wonder, is it really worth it? Susan Rehm, M.D., debunks some common myths.
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CLEVELAND – It’s the time of the year when doctors are reminding people to get their annual flu shots, but many people often wonder if it’s worth getting one.
According to Susan Rehm, M.D., an infectious disease expert at Cleveland Clinic, the flu virus can be unpredictable.
She said while most people consider the flu to be a minor setback, with a day or two home from work or school, we shouldn’t underestimate how dangerous it can really be.
“I think we tend to forget that the flu is a very serious illness,” said Dr. Rehm. “Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized in the United States and unfortunately there may be somewhere between 4,000 and 40,000 people who die of influenza every year.”
More than 100 infants and children died of flu last year – the majority of which, had not been vaccinated.
The current recommendation from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that everyone ages six months and older receive a flu shot each year.
Dr. Rehm said it’s also important to vaccinate adults who are around children, especially those younger than six months of age, who are not able to receive the vaccine yet.
She said there are still many myths about the flu shot that exist. One of the most common myths is that a person can get ‘sick’ from the flu shot.
“You can’t get the flu from flu vaccine,” said Dr. Rehm. “All of the vaccines are inactivated, so they are just proteins, and you can’t actually get the flu.”
And while it is possible to feel a little tired and run down after getting a flu shot, Dr. Rehm said those symptoms are usually related to the body’s natural immune response, which is necessary for the body to build up the antibodies it needs to fight off the flu, should we come in contact with it.
Another common myth is that it isn’t necessary to get a flu shot every year.
“We need to get vaccinated against flu every year because the flu viruses can change from year to year, and our immunity to flu viruses goes down in between each injection,” said Dr. Rehm.
Dr. Rehm said it’s best to get the flu shot as soon as it is available, as it takes the body several weeks to build up immunity.