It’s a shame more people don’t get the flu vaccine. It’s safe and protects you against at least one week of misery if not even more grave problems. Some folks are hesitant because there is a lot of misinformation regarding the flu shot. Let’s examine some of the common misconceptions:
· Some think that the flu vaccine can give you the flu. The normal vaccine contains the dead shells of the flu virus. Even the “live virus” nasal spray vaccine has viruses that were designed to lack the molecular machinery to infect people.
· People may think that the flu shot is good for more than one year, like most vaccines. Unfortunately, there are many different viruses each year and they change very quickly. It takes many public health officials working full time to stay one step ahead of the virus.
· Another concern is a very rare side effect of the flu shot, called Guillane-Barre syndrome (GBS). GBS can lead to paralysis, difficulty breathing, and death. Before you get too scared, realize that it only affects 1 in a million people vaccinated, and about 80% affected make a full recovery and only 2-3% die. So if all 300 million or so Americans were vaccinated, 300 would get GBS, 240 of which would recover fully and 9 would die. Compared to the 41,000 that die every year from the flu, that’s a pretty small faction.
So why are you waiting? Flu vaccines are available at many grocery stores, pharmacies, and your doctor’s office. The vaccine takes a few weeks to kick in, so it is best to get it now so you don’t find yourself sniffling and coughing around the holidays!
Dr. Bruce Feinberg